So as well as the teenagers expanding their listening horizons in the hunt for a song to perform, we in the band do the same when the song choices come back. I have received much slagging about my age in recent days, and maybe I’m now showing it here but I had never heard the song Fireball before Eddie Fitzpatrick decided to perform it at Teenage Theme Night #19 last night. It was another great show last night…with more than enough highlights to fill a blog, but today’s blog is all about this standout performance. Because the reason these nights keep getting better is because the bar keeps being raised. By performances such as this. And then the others realize that they need to work a bit harder at their song, or put a bit more thought into their arrangement. And then they come back next time with more ideas. And more preparation. And we get a night like last

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Human. Sacrifice.

Sedated. Speechless. Bruises. Run………….. Freedom! Some of the darker song titles from the second half of last night’s show…with a happy ending of course! With thanks to emcee Penny Lee for pointing this out to us all in her own dryly humorous way. It was another entertaining show last night. Plenty of standout moments – some highlights for me were as follows… The first original piece of music at a theme night for a while (and what a piece!) – and we have another this evening. The girl who took a good swig of a hot drink from her flask during the saxophone solo in her song to make sure her voice could hit the high notes on resuming. The dramatic entrance of the 5 horn players from the back of the theatre at the start of the second half. Great idea and execution! The end of Perfect (Fairground Attraction). Those high notes coming. Will she go for it?? If

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Get it right…

The official count on songs being performed at Teenage Theme Night #19 this weekend now stands at 96. Average 24 a show over 4 shows. Now some are repeat performances of the same song, and some we don’t have to play on as the teenagers cover the instruments themselves. But that still leaves – at a guess – the best part of 70 separate songs for the band to learn and then play over the course of the weekend. Now they are great lads – good friends all, and top class musicians, and I’m not suggesting that there has been any complaints from any of them. Because there hasn’t. But just in case any of us were feeling sorry for ourselves, a friend put me right this morning. She basically said – ‘Yes – you might be playing 70 songs, but each of the teenagers is performing only one. They have put a lot into choosing that song, arranging it,

read more Get it right…

Where do all the old posters go?

I was out and about this morning and passed a number of posters for Gaslight – currently showing in the wonderful venue that is Kilmacowen Hall. On the way back however I spotted what I thought was my name on the back of the poster…and on closer viewing – it was! Immediately I was reminded of the lyric in The Green Fields of France – ‘in an old photograph torn and battered and stained’ – because this was how this side of the poster looked. Of course it was serving as good a purpose as it can now, but I took a closer look to see what gig it was advertising. And I remembered it – a fundraiser I was part of in the Knocknarea Arena a few years back – I sang Meadhbh’s Call as a duet with Sinéad Conway, and accompanied a few other pieces during the show. I remember the Grammar School Choir being particularly good that

read more Where do all the old posters go?

Are you brave and/or wonderful?

Watch this video for (some) answers to Monday’s Weekly Challenge #1. I would post all answers here but I have to save some special musically informative treats for the brave and wonderful people who have subscribed to this site in it’s opening few days. Thankyou all. Full lesson video on how to play Budapest (and 19 other songs to 3 levels) AND the complete chord chart with all answers are available now here.

The election is announced…

And so for those of us resident in Ireland, our news cycles, social media and lampposts among other things will be dominated by politics and politicians for the next three-and-a-half weeks until polling day on Feb 8. Running for election is an incredibly personal thing – it requires courage. For those who don’t get elected, their failure is always public and sometimes humiliating, and so people become desperate as campaigns go on to avoid this. But it may not be always their fault. A policy decision made by party leadership in Dublin doesn’t suit rural communities and hence representatives of that party in rural areas (who didn’t agree with that decision but are tarred with the same brush) lose votes and miss out. Or a late entry to the field takes a large proportion of another candidates votes away – someone who would have been elected if the late entry decided to stay at home. And the thing about politics

read more The election is announced…

Weekly Challenge #1 – Budapest

As promised last week, here is the first of my weekly challenges brought to you by my new online piano tuition platform. It’s a bit of fun, aimed at aspiring, amateur and even professional musicians of all shapes and sizes. It will improve your ear, as well as your understanding of songs and how they are put together. It’s a relatively easy one to start you all off this week! Click here for the exact nature of the challenges, a downloadable incomplete chord chart where you can fill in the blanks, and some clues.

The pub and the wall

I was out for a long walk over Christmas and called in to a pub a bit outside Sligo town for a well-earned drink on the way home. It was a Monday afternoon, and the pub was remarkably busy. I asked one local if trade was always this good – she said that since the publican built the wall in front of the carpark out the back it had done wonders for business. Now people could park their cars, have their few drinks and no-one driving by would know any better. You see being able to figure out what is actually important to others is a valuable skill in any area of life. And sometimes you have to delve a little deeper to get to the bottom of it. A publican may think that providing great service, a lively atmosphere and good music should guarantee him a regular supply of loyal customers. And he may be right. But this particular

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'I have an idea for this one…'

Music to my ears. Whatever the project, whatever the show, whatever the performance coming up is, it can only be enlivened by someone coming into a room and excitedly uttering the words in the title of today’s blog. The idea may not be much good. Yet. It might need to be tweaked, rethought, or even binned. But you coming in with an idea makes my day. It’s a sign of thought, effort, creativity, drive to make it great, desire not to settle for OK. And so over the last few days I have met dozens of teenagers, all thinking about their performance next weekend. And some ideas have been great. Creatively mixing two arrangements of the same song. Choreographing a dance. A grand entrance. A witty introduction. Reimagining the song from what was a solo to a duet. Changing a vocal number to an instrumental. A clever medley. And others needed more work. And that’s fine. Because the best way

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Shona and Nils

If you’re a singer, the first thing you must do is to connect with the song. If you’re an accompanist, the first thing you must do is to support the singer. Above are two of the core lessons we try and impart to the ever-growing gang of teenage musicians who take part in the Teenage Theme Nights. This pair below didn’t need much telling, in fairness to them. Every time Shona performs, she lives every word of the song, and hence the audience are with her all the way through her performance. And Nils must be the busiest participant in next weekend’s set of shows. Why? Because firstly he can play the piano well, but secondly he is easy to get along with, easy to work with, and is sympathetic to the needs of the many singers who have asked him to accompany them. Teenage Theme Night #19 takes place next weekend, with 4 shows over the course of 3

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