Deaths come in threes

Sad as the recent deaths of broadcasters Marian Finucane and Larry Gogan (below) have been, if you add them to the passing of their former RTE colleague – Gay Byrne – 2 months ago, proponents of the theory in the title of this blog may allow themselves a smile. Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for facts, circumstances or events that support an already-held belief. It is an error of reasoning, a result of selective memory, and can lead to people thinking things to be true that are untrue. A little confirmation bias towards ourselves is no harm however. When looking for the courage to try new things or attempt great feats, we sometimes need to believe that we are better than we are, rather than the opposite. And so if we remember only the praise we get and not the criticism, only the successes and not the failures, then if that selective memory leads us to stretching and

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Back into the swing of it..

“Are you back into the swing of it yet”? Nearly as common an utterance as “Happy New Year” at the moment. Some people are only getting out of the swing of it now of course after a busy Christmas at work. But if you are getting back into the swing of it – I hope you feel rested and ready for action. And so here’s to making it swing good – and to groovin’, funkin’ it up, jammin’, messin’, tuning, crooning and to making great music together for the next year. Anyway for anyone asking – I’m back into the swing of it tonight. The Monday nights are back – it’s my first gig of the year and I can’t wait. Thomas Connolly’s – 9.30pm – with Seamie and two very special guests….

Must get to more gigs…

Today I feel a bit like Peter Parker after he was bitten by the radioactive spider. Infused with extra strength, speed and clarity of thought. Because last night I went to a gig – what I would call a proper gig in a proper venue. The Dirty Jazz Club in Arthur’s to be exact. 6 musicians who have been playing together for years, including a friend and a regular guest of our own Monday night residency – Cathal Roche. And boy could you tell. The way they transitioned from one solo to the next was each time different yet always tight. The interplay between the three horns was fantastic throughout. And when the entire second half of the gig consists of just 4 tunes, you have to make each one count, and they did. And that’s what a great gig can do to you. Fill you with ideas, with spirit, with soul and with love for this thing we do

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Ice-skating and gambling

When you’re ice-skating it pays to move in the same direction as everyone else. Otherwise there is chaos and your chances of not falling and then getting into a groove diminish. Professional gamblers on the other hand know that it pays to move in a different direction to everyone else. When the market has moved too far in one direction that’s when value arises in looking at things in another way. The trick for us is to know what the best option is for ourselves in our own particular situation. And while thinking like others will probably help us to stay on our feet, to win big it often pays to think differently.

G for Jesus

Makes no sense when it’s written down. But if you hear it said it sounds plausible. It’s like music. Some people can’t make head or tail of it when it’s written down, but once they hear it it strikes a chord. If this sounds like how you connect with music, and the piano in particular, and you want to learn more about the possibilities in this regard, then here are some things for you to read. A blog about my philosophy of how to teach piano. How we all felt at the end of the first term of group adult classes. And an introduction to a new song-based online learning method I launched yesterday. Or send me an email if you have any questions.

How to learn…

Martha. Tom Waits. You know it I’m sure. One of Waits’ best-known ballads – a love story from a unique point of view. Underscored by an iconic piano track. One of my earliest gigs as a musician was accompanying a singer-songwriter in various venues around the country as he played support to a great Tom Waits tribute band. Cian Boylan was the piano player in that band, and he played a beautiful version of Martha on the gig. There was one particular chord he played that got me every time. One of those chords that sounded quite like the chord I would have played but I knew he played it in a particular way which made it magical. I asked him to show it to me and he did. It wasn’t hugely different to what I played, but he voiced the chord in a way I would have never thought to do. I took it on board and have used

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Dates in the diary

A new year. A blank diary. So much potential. So much unknown. So much excitement. And while this time of year is a good time to change things, it’s as much a function of people having time off and an opportunity to step back and reflect as it is of the actual time of year. So if you are in the mood to reflect and make changes, one idea might be to make sure you have enough time off during the year to ensure that this isn’t the only time in 2020 that you get to step back from everything. And then while you are ring-fencing that time in your diary…here are some other dates for you… Mon Jan 6: The resumption of Kieran and Seamie’s residency in Connolly’s. Tue Jan 14: The first class in the new term of adult piano classes. Fri 17- Sun 19 Jan: Teenage Theme Night #19 – One-Word Wonders. Wed 5-Fri 7 Feb: Theme

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Most-read blogs of 2019

2019 in Review: Part 6 So here’s the biggest lesson I learned in 2019 – If you want to make changes in your life, creating new habits is a more effective way of doing so than setting goals. For example, I could have said on Jan 1 2019 that my goal for 2019 was to write a blog every day that year. Like many New Years Resolutions, I went well for the start of the year, but come the end of February I stopped, and only blogged sporadically for the months March – May. So if I had set the specific goal mentioned above – there it is gone. Failed. What do I do now? However the work I did in January and February in making daily blogging a habit paid off as the year went on. When I was ready to begin blogging again in June I used the techniques I had learnt at the start of the year,

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Another Star

2019 in Review: Part 5 September brought Theme Night #24 – where we paid tribute to Mr. Stevie Wonder. This song summed up this particular run of Theme Nights for me – for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had never heard it before. Neither had most of the gang involved. But that was one great thing about doing a run of Stevie Wonder shows – he has such a huge catalogue of music that many of us discovered new gems along the way. Secondly, so much of his music can be made BIG. Choirs, horns, strings, throw in whatever you want and the music can probably take it – it’s so rich in harmony yet so melodic. And finally – like many theme night performers, Eoin chose this partly because he had never done it before. He threw it at us in Connolly’s one Monday night and ripped it up, but I’m not sure even he was prepared for

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2019 in Review: Part 4

The Teenage Theme Nights went from strength to strength in 2019, led by a small but powerful 6th Yr Unit. I have chosen this song as a highlight for a number of reasons, mainly because it really shouldn’t have worked! Our end-of-year showcase is usually planned meticulously, rehearsed well and delivered to a high standard. This song ticked the last box but neither of the other two. Julie had trouble choosing a song. She eventually settled on this one on the Friday, with the show on Saturday. Despite the short timeframe involved, she wanted it to be big – with 30 teenagers singing it with her, and in fairness to the gang they signed up and then showed up. We had 25 minutes set aside on the Saturday afternoon to arrange and then rehearse it and Julie herself was ten minutes late because of a class. Yet they nailed it. How? Well firstly she had a really strong core group

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