When the teacher has to practice…

I spoke to a colleague of mine the other day who at the moment is practicing a really fast tune on her instrument that she hasn’t played in ten years. The tune that is, not the instrument. It’s funny – as a professional musician, you may find that the majority of the music you are asked to play is well within your capability, but every so often something comes along that challenges you technically. And when this happens it feels like being a student all over again. And so – if you are a professional musician who also teaches then you may find yourself following (and therefore testing) the advice that you give students all the time. Play the difficult passages slowly and repeatedly; only then speed up. Work out a fingering pattern and stick to it. Know the music really well in your head. Learn the music technically before you try and mess around with it. Enjoy the challenge.

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Sunday Music #10

The story of a song… This eventually turned into this. Similar melody and chords, but completely different lyrics and vibe. Fascinating. So if your song doesn’t work first time out, it doesn’t mean it has to be discarded.

Why Me?

I reckon I must hold some sort of record for speed while running the length of Dublin’s O’Connell St. I was just home from Belgium one Sunday – after a great weekend of gigs with local band No Crows there, and I got a taxi from the airport into the city centre, planning on spending some of my weekend’s wages before getting the train home from Connolly station. Until I realised that I left my wallet in the taxi. Full of said wages. And at that point in my career, it was about as much as I had ever been paid for a couple of gigs. I looked up and the taxi was stopped at a red light a few hundred yards further down the street. I took off, determined to catch it, but just as I breathlessly approached, the lights changed and he sped off. Not to worry – thankfully there were plenty of sets of traffic lights on

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Spring-cleaning

A few things about spring-cleaning… It doesn’t have to be done in spring. It does however have to involve cleaning, or at least tidying! It often refers to cleaning a premises, or home, but can equally apply to your affairs/desk/mind. You almost always feel good afterwards. If you want the thing you’re cleaning to remain clean in the long-term it’s probably best not to wait too long until after the last time you spring-cleaned to spring-clean again. Similarly, if you want your next bout of spring-cleaning not to take too long, it’s probably best not to wait too long until after the last time you spring-cleaned to spring-clean again. It was lovely to do a bit of online spring-cleaning today. And although it’s not quite finished, check out kieranquinn.ie for things like the new 2022 Vicar St date, the latest video playlist from Teenage Theme Showcase #4, and details of where to subscribe in order to be the first to

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I don’t want to live on the moon

This song has been part of the homeschooling schedule this week… In it, Ernie sings about travelling under the sea. The girls agree that it would be nice – but only for a short time. ‘I might stay for a day there if I had my wish. Though there’s not much to do when your friends are all fish’. Because that’s the thing – we all need others like us, others with similar interests to share the road. It’s not much fun being in a band with a bunch of heavy metal players if you’re into jazz. And similarly you wouldn’t last long on a rugby team if soccer was your sport. But sometimes you have to be intentional about it and not just wait for those people to turn up. So, where can you find them?

Summer in Dublin

An Irish classic or completely overplayed – depends on who you talk to I guess. Written by Liam Reilly, who sadly passed away aged 65 earlier this year, it did a lot to establish his name and that of his band – Bagatelle – on the Irish music scene in the early 1980s. Reilly said that the song came from a series of encounters he had one day in the city – he amalgamated them and out came the song. It follows the well-worn but undeniably effective path of a minor verse followed by a major chorus, and is a favourite anthem among Irish and especially Dublin people all over the world. Street names, place names, landmarks, even bus routes – the chorus cleverly contains them all, and hence connects with people who attach all sorts of memories to these places. Here’s a version we put together last summer…. It’s the featured song this week on pianowithkieran.com – you can

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Tuesday Trivia #9

On the most famous song in the world…what is it?? Have a look at the vid below to find out… You can check out the afore-mentioned Tuesday Trivia #7 here, and then this blog for a written description of the main points of the video, as well as Richard Tee playing some great piano on this most unlikely of songs…

Wincing…

Last night I stayed up for a while and watched videos of performances of some old songs I wrote. And while at times I smiled and was genuinely enjoying the music, other times I winced, and had to skip past some lines I really didn’t like, lines that if I wrote now I would replace before recording. Yet at the time it was the right thing to do to record them, to release them, perform them. Despite how I felt last night. Because if I hadn’t, I would be including lines like that in my next song. Thinking they were great and not realising they’re actually not for another few years. You learn by doing.

Sunday Music #9

There has been a lot of talk around this version of The Saw Doctors famous hit – N17 – over the last few weeks. And justifiably so – it’s imaginatively done – and most importantly it’s believable. I heard Leo Moran on RTE’s Arena show recently. He described the song as sweet and sour, and proceeded to tell the story of how the song turned out that way. He wrote the lyrics, which are quite sad in tone, but then when his songwriting partner Davy Carton got a hold of them, he turned the song on it’s head and gave it a more uplifting and lively beat – hence the mixture of moods that makes the song stand out. However – if what you’re looking for is a soulful reimagining of a Saw Doctors hit, for me it’s hard to beat this Sarah Crummy version of To Win Just Once.

Phil

A guy who taught me most of what I know about jazz piano had a stroke in June. A bad one. His independence has been diminished and he is facing a long and expensive period of rehabilitation. His name is Phil Ware. He’s an Englishman living in Dublin, and was a tutor on the Sligo Jazz Project for quite a few years and a regular visitor to this part of the world. I recently saw a beautiful post on Facebook about him, written by another ex-student of his – Greg Felton – who clearly had stayed in touch with Phil, and later became friends with him. I didn’t have that type of relationship with Phil. When it came down to it, I don’t think I liked or understood jazz piano to the same level as he did and this made it more difficult to connect in this regard. I possibly didn’t practice enough for his liking either! I do remember

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