How to learn…

Martha. Tom Waits.

You know it I’m sure. One of Waits’ best-known ballads – a love story from a unique point of view. Underscored by an iconic piano track.

One of my earliest gigs as a musician was accompanying a singer-songwriter in various venues around the country as he played support to a great Tom Waits tribute band. Cian Boylan was the piano player in that band, and he played a beautiful version of Martha on the gig.

There was one particular chord he played that got me every time. One of those chords that sounded quite like the chord I would have played but I knew he played it in a particular way which made it magical.

I asked him to show it to me and he did. It wasn’t hugely different to what I played, but he voiced the chord in a way I would have never thought to do. I took it on board and have used it at various points in songs since.

You see no matter who you are or what you do, there’s probably someone out there who is better than you. Or at the very least, someone who does things differently to you, which creates an opportunity for you to learn from that person.

As Cristiano Ronaldo says about his time learning from senior players when he was at Manchester United – “The goal isn’t to imitate but to take aspects from those who are the best and adapt it to your own personality”.

And so today I launched a brand new online piano tuition platform. A website full of song-based videos showing exactly how I play various songs in a clear visual manner. And just as I learned from Cian Boylan and Ronaldo learned from Scholes, maybe some of you are at the stage in your playing where you could learn from me.

You can find out more about it here.

Or more about the new term of adult classes (which use these videos) here.