Correct your mistakes before they become habits.

So you’re trying to learn a new melody on your instrument. Or a new boogie bass line. Or, less glamorously, a scale. Or an exercise to improve your technique. You want to get playing it up to speed, so you try it faster and faster until you get it once at a decent pace. But you can’t seem to repeat it. Something keeps going wrong. Why? Here’s the why. You have practiced it until you got it right – and that’s fine. But you need to practice it until you don’t get it wrong. So in the above instance, your first priority should not to be able to play whatever you’re trying to play fast, but to be able to play it accurately, and repeatedly. Tempo is irrelevant at this point. It just needs to be slow enough so that it allows you to get the fingering right, get the feel right, in a relaxed manner and in a way

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Something to look forward to…

Back in my 20s, when air travel was easy, a group of us used to head away for a long weekend once a year. Usually somewhere in Europe, somewhere we hadn’t been before, somewhere with cheap flights. One of my friends who was part of this group used to claim that the value in these trips lay as much in the anticipation of them as the craic you would have on them. The excitement of looking forward to something. And this feeling is important. Especially now. I couldn’t get over the number of people who said to me in the aftermath of last week’s theme night that it was great to have something to look forward to, something to break up the week, the days. Because these things, the things we can look forward to, they prevent the days from rolling into one. From becoming just like the previous one, and the next one. And it doesn’t have to be

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Farewell Theme Night #26

It’s one we will always remember. One which demanded different talents and skills. One we all watched together but separately. One where a new generation of twenty somethings stepped up to the mark and delivered. One which put a much-needed smile on people’s faces. I had never watched a theme night live on TV before. Many of the participants have noted that never before would they have had the time required to create and shoot videos of such a high standard. And certainly no theme night before ever reached such a wide audience. If you missed it – you can see all videos here… The Golden Jacket – well the recipient this time will miss out on much of the craic associated with it unfortunately. But his name will (in time) be embroidered into it like that of the others and will go down in Theme Night History! It’s awarded each time to someone not necessarily for the level of

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Studio Time

I spoke with the Australian host of the Studio Time podcast last November in the wake of releasing A Year of Wednesdays. I have featured various episodes of this podcast on the blog over the last few years and Matthew has had some wonderful guests in the past and is a lovely man with whom to have a chat. We talk about Sligo and its history, the album itself, the origin of the theme nights, my experiences when it comes to learning piano and Matthew manages to sum up much of the work I do better than I ever could. The world has changed a lot in the meantime, and it’s interesting to hear how you looked upon things a few months ago – but much of it is still relevant today.

When the ball is thrown in…

I would like to some day, but up to now I have never managed a football team. Those who have done so tell me that the hardest part is not being able to influence the game once it starts. Sure you can make a few positional switches, you can make a substitution or two, but compared to being a player on the field, your influence is limited to say the least. When you’re playing a gig, like a player on the field, you can react to what’s going on around you. If you sense the crowd want to dance, you can change up your set to accommodate that. If you feel they aren’t listening to your patter between songs, well then you just shut up and play more music. And if your band aren’t performing as you would like them to, well one look or one forcefully played note can let them know that straight away. But when you prerecord

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The future of concerts

I read this yesterday. Bob Lefsetz – one of the smartest voices around when it comes to the music business. And one or two other things, depending on your point of view. And it seems concerts as we know them, especially the big ones, may not be coming back until 2021. An educated guess, but that’s all we have for now. So people are going to have to get creative. Because as Lefsetz says, concerts/gigs are about more than the music. Its the dressing up, the social interaction, the scene, the craic. And while we can get plenty of music online, the rest of the stuff is a bit harder to find. But hold on a minute. Rather than focusing on what we can’t do, let’s have a think about what we can now do in relation to concerts/gigs that we couldn’t 2 months ago. We can go for free. We can share the experience with friends/family from all around

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7 albums I love…

So I, like many others it seems have been asked in an online challenge to name seven albums I love. So here goes… The one where I discovered there were more notes. The one that got me trying to play guitar. The one with all the clever words…and the craic. The one that’s like a Greatest Hits album but isn’t. The one that is a Greatest Hits album (I’m not sure if this counts, but I’m putting it in because it was my introduction to this great band and I LOVED it). The one where I discovered there were even more notes. And the one which showed me you didn’t have to play all the notes (but could try the odd time if you wanted to). And in the spirit of the challenge – any regular blog reader who hasn’t been nominated yet and would like to participate – please take this as your invitation to do so! Let me

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It may be broke, but can you fix it??

I came out of the Hawk’s Well Theatre one night last December after one of the pantomime shows. I noticed it was fairly windy, and although there had been no major storm warnings for this night, the wind was sufficient that I thought that I should probably tie down the trampoline in the back garden when I got home. But I was too late. I went out to the garden to secure it and it was already gone. The wind had somehow hoisted the trampoline in to the air and 100 yards into the field behind the house. It stayed there until recently when we called a friend to help us dispose of it. But he reckoned it could be saved. Some parts were beyond repair, sure, but he knew someone who had trampoline parts and could provide what we needed. Needless to say there was much rejoicing in our house. In a similar fashion I thought that this promo

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Stephen O’Dowd came to me for a few piano lessons when he was 15 or 16. To be honest, he could play piano pretty well already, and was more keen to pick my brains on chord theory and the blues than any piano fundamentals. Even then it was clear that he had a great musical brain, and coupling that with his genes he always had a fighting chance of becoming a really good musician. So it came to the end-of-year concert that year, and one of my other students had learned the accompaniment to a song, but needed someone to sing it. Stephen, despite the fact that he didn’t sing much at the time, volunteered to sing the song, to dig his fellow student out of a hole. And he did fine – if I’m honest he probably didn’t blow anyone in the room away – but what was more impressive than his vocal performance was his willingness to try

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Get out there…

You can try and control your reactions to what is thrown at you, and regular readers of this blog will know that I believe it’s important to try and do so. However there is no doubt that it’s easier to make the most of the day in front of you when you wake up and see a sky like this. And in unusual and uncertain times like this, we all need a bit of help sometimes to make the most of the day in front of us. And this morning I got that help when I opened the curtains. I hope some of you did too. A day like this is a gift in the midst of this marathon we’re all currently running. So get out there, and do something good for you. Finally, as a new week begins, one of the best things I saw last week was this look ahead to when it’s all over – a collaboration

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