Bridge Over Troubled Water

This song was one of the big piano projects I took on in my later years in school. Larry Knechtel’s piano part was so good – and the chords were so mysterious to me – I was excited to get stuck into it. I didn’t know any of the story behind the song. I didn’t know of thejealousy felt by the writer of the song (Paul Simon) when his partner (vocalist Art Garfunkel) received all the glory for singing it. I didn’t know that it had taken a very long weekend to come up with the piano part. I didn’t even know that these chords I wanted to explore were actually gospel chords, and that Simon had written it as a gospel song. But oh how it is. Listen to how pianist Richard Tee sets up the song here, and indeed to his piano playing throughout. And to the backing vocals. Or to how Aretha Franklin interprets the song here.

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A fresh coat of paint…

It’s been more than 6 years since my room was painted. I thought that there must be a blog in this somewhere so to see could I find inspiration I googled the term – ‘a fresh coat of paint’. And here’s where Google brought me – A Canadian article detailing the 5 ways in which a fresh coat of paint can improve a room. Spot on and all true. But they didn’t mention my favourite part of the whole process – because after you move all of the furniture into the middle of the room to let the painters get at the walls, you now have a blank canvas on which to reimagine where all the pieces go back. When you make one change it can easily lead to more. The problem is plucking up the courage to make the first one. Don’t leave it 6 years!

You’re not responsible…

There’s nothing you can do to make cracked ribs heal faster. Except not to crack them again. Otherwise they will heal at their own pace. There’s a certain freedom to that. It means you’re not responsible. No amount of rest, compression, or exercises prescribed by a physio will make them heal any quicker. You just have to put up with the pain until it stops. Likewise the next time you get a puncture, the weather leads to your event being cancelled, or your life gets turned upside down because of an elusive and contagious virus. You’re not responsible. So instead of getting frustrated, enjoy the freedom. Photo by Harlie Raethel on Unsplash

When You’re Smiling…

Either this was a happy accident or a clever carving. Either way it was nice to come across it earlier today – and it reminded me of this great version of a famous song. Depending on when you read this it will either end or start your week off on a good note…

Those who do…

We played some music at a small outdoor gathering this evening. It was magic. I thanked the hostess for organising the evening. Her response? ‘No problem. Sure we have to do these things to get us through all this’. And tonight certainly helped us all. Everyone left in good spirits. But despite what the hostess said, we don’t actually have to do these things. Lots of people don’t do them. But the people that do – those who go out of their way to make things better for others – they are the people that deserve our thanks and praise, especially at a time like this.

Be like Brian

Brian Fenton hasn’t lost any of the 36 championship games he has played for Dublin. He is 27 years old, and has won 5 All-Ireland titles, 4 All-Stars and a Footballer of the Year award. He didn’t have a stand-out underage career, and almost out of nowhere, found himself starting at midfield in the 2015 All-Ireland final against Kerry. He scored a point after 15 seconds to settle his nerves, his team won, and for the cherry on top, he won the man-of-the-match award. Not bad for a young fella. But it’s in the following years that the story gets interesting. And for the second week in a row I have the Second Captains podcast to thank for inspiring this column. Because in a recent interview with them, Fenton revealed how he had heard a lot about second season syndrome – where hypothetically a player or team who has had an exceptional breakthrough year performs significantly worse in their second year.  So this became his driving force. He would

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One blog to which I subscribe always comes into my inbox when I’m asleep. So it’s among the first emails I read every morning. That’s a good thing – I like it – it’s for musicians and it’s clever. Often you read it and it’s gone, but sometimes it stays with you a bit longer and can affect your day. This morning’s post was one such post. It’s short – read it – the rest of this blog won’t make sense otherwise. It reminded me of some negative publicity Spotify has been getting recently. From musicians who like me like to release albums approximately every 2 or 3 years. Just like the blog says not to do. Which is probably good advice all things considered, and certainly what today’s world rewards. Spotify’s algorithm for one will reward you more if you release music regularly. And so lots of people who like releasing albums every 2-3 years don’t like Spotify. Understandably

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The problem with a gammy leg…

I have a friend who is a physio. His brother has a leg that he used to call his ‘gammy leg’. Until his brother the physio told him to stop calling it that. Because it was hindering his recovery. So if any of you musicians out there have a ‘weak hand’, a ‘timing problem’, or an ‘inaccurate voice’, stop calling it that. It just might help you get rid of it. Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Why do I blog?

The other day I rooted out a thesis I wrote in the final year of my philosophy degree. The subject? Individual creativity. I won’t bore you with the details, but it struck me that 17 years later here I am still writing about individual creativity. Someone once described my blogging to me as finding a different way every day to say the same thing. They may have been insinuating that I was boring, but I decided to take it as a compliment to my consistency. But the thing is – if you had asked me 17 years ago or indeed 3 years ago before I started the blog, I couldn’t have told you that individual creativity was necessarily something in which I was interested. But now I do know. And I know that similarly I’m interested in collaboration. And the power of community. Because I write about them. Regularly. And writing helps me understand and then organise my thoughts. Why

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5 months late but going ahead!

So at last, Teenage Theme Night #20 is happening. Oct 2 and 3 in the Hawk’s Well Theatre. I wrote earlier this month about the many milestones that the class of 2020 have missed, and so I’m delighted to say that their last teenage theme night won’t be one of them. Better late than never, as they say. Needless to say, it won’t be the like last year. Capacity in the theatre and numbers on stage will be significantly reduced as per government guidelines. The participants will have to sit in the auditorium as part of the audience and so the craic backstage won’t be the same. But I have a feeling that the atmosphere in the theatre will also be like nothing we have experienced before. Teenage musicians who started preparing for this show back in March. Some professional musicians coming together for the first time in months. A show which we feared would never happen and now is

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