Teenage commitment

An old GAA coach of mine defined commitment as doing what you said you would do, even when you don’t want to do it. At the start of April, I put out a call to the youth musical community of Sligo – wondering would people be up for recording videos of themselves playing and singing to share with others. It was a way to keep people making music together while we couldn’t do it physically. And in the spirit of the times, 60 individuals/groups answered the call and said they would do it. 3 videos a week over the course of 20 weeks. And even though a lot has changed in those three months, each person has stuck to their word and delivered what they said they would. On time. We are into Week 13 of the 20 today, and I’d like to share some of the highlights so far. Enjoy. Here are two great original takes on classic songs…

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Theme Nights – The future…

Yesterday on Rosses Point beach the locals were given a surprise by the sight of a dozen musicians with instruments dressed in Hawaiian shirts and ballgowns shooting a video. Later in the evening, the bass section from the theme night choir were on a Zoom call figuring out the harmonies for one of the songs for the upcoming show. Then at lunchtime today one of the soloists found a quiet corner of her office and belted out Summer in Dublin into her phone so I could hear the key in which she wanted to sing it. And the next ten days will be full of little mini-events like this in various locations around our town and county in order to bring you the sequel to April’s online Theme Night #26. Ten days of shooting/recording, followed by ten days of mixing/editing and we will be ready to broadcast on 8.30 on the evening of Thursday July 16. Lockdown has provided much-needed

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Reaching for it…

Ask someone to think of moments when they felt satisfaction or a sense of achievement. It’s likely they will mention a time where they rose to a challenge. A time where they stretched themselves and succeeded. Something they reached for and just managed to grab perhaps. So if a sense of satisfaction or achievement is a feeling you like and perhaps strive for, then maybe it might be no harm to figure out when and how you can get out of your comfort zone next.

More is more

More notes are rarely the answer if you’re looking to write a great melody. Just as more words will probably not work if you haven’t already got your point across with your first go. And more money doesn’t usually make a problem go away. Not for long anyway. But more invention, more passion, more thought? That could be exactly what we are looking for. Photo by Miguel Orós on Unsplash

Who is the vital one?

You. You are always the vital one. It may seem to you that other people are more vital to the team you’re on or the band you’re in. But if you can see how vital your role is, and learn to do it better, it will release you from having to be THE vital one. And then you will become even more vital. I first heard this idea on this podcast. Cheers Matt and Charles.

The magic…

So it is important to know the rules. The patterns. The shortcuts. How and why others in your field have done what they have done in the past. Otherwise people won’t take you seriously. This is your foundation. But the magic never happens until you put your own creativity and personality on top of it.

Smile before you answer the phone.

So says blog reader Brendan Tierney, who won’t mind me telling you all that he is turning 40 this week. I’m writing about him because he was inspired by this blog I published last month – where I linked to two lists written by people on their birthdays according to the following format… X (well-known writer/businessman/sports star) turned Y today. Here are Y bits of advice from him – one for each year. Brendan sent me his 40 pieces of advice today and I loved them. The title of this blog is number 15 on the list, and here are my other favourites… 22. Dessert is way sweeter if you don’t go for that extra spud. 39. Don’t say ‘I’m useless at that’. Everyone is until they learn. 10. We are all influencers. 4. Wrestle with your kids. 36. Get paid to be hungover. Don’t leave it till the weekend. Happy Birthday Brendan!

The tale of the thirsty plant…

Imagine you were a plant in Ransboro yesterday. You have just endured three months of pretty dry weather…which is nice, sure, but at the end of the day you need to drink. All of a sudden, dark clouds approach and thunder begins to roll. A few flashes of lightning later and it’s happy days. The storm is moving in. We’re made up lads. Enough water to last us weeks on the way! But somehow it doesn’t. A few minutes of light rain arrives. Great. This is good, and surely it will turn into a downpour any second. But it doesn’t. The thunder stops and you slowly realize that the show has left town. To compound your misery, today you hear on the grapevine that the plants in Sligo town and Strandhill, a few miles either side of you had the best day in years yesterday. Rain of biblical proportions they say. And you’re still thirsty. It would be easy to

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I’m never taking it for granted again.

This is something many of us say in certain situations. Usually after again experiencing something important to you for the first time after you haven’t been able to for a while. You see music really is a language. I think we know that more than ever now. Because while languages work fine on your own, they work best when spoken to, for and with others. There isn’t a huge point to them otherwise. And you know when you haven’t seen someone for a while, you usually have a lot to say to them. Well it’s the same with music. And it happened today for the first time in ages. And the picnic in the park and the chat using actual words afterwards were a bonus. And later I came across a garden party with a gang of musicians playing in a (wide) circle. And it was lovely to stay for a while and listen. And later still I got to

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Practising tips…

Because we all need to be reminded from time to time… Accurate slow practice beats inexact fast practice every time. If you’re aiming for mastery, don’t simply practise until you get something right, practise until you don’t get it wrong. Focused short bursts of practice achieve more than long meandering sessions. You should not only practise but also play. And you need to be able to differentiate between them. Because once you can play something accurately with consistency, it no longer counts as practice, it becomes part of your playing. Once you are over the basics, the single best thing you can do for your practice is to learn note for note a lick, phrase or solo played by a musician you love. Play it and play it until you have internalised every nuance of their playing. Then you will be ready to integrate it into your own. Photo by This Guy on Unsplash