All posts by Jay

Musician, aesthete, lover of concord.

Advent calendar: 8

I was out in Howth yesterday, visiting my sister and her family. I had great fun with my wee niece and was given the honour of reading her a bedtime story. We had ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and then ‘The Nutcracker’.

So, for today’s Advent calendar, here’s Clement Clarke Moore’s evocative telling of ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’…

Click on ‘ADVENT 2015’ at the top of this post (above the title) to see the previous posts I’ve done.

Advent calendar: 7

Today I’ve got two great Christmas tunes for beginner piano players to enjoy — ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’ and ‘Frosty The Snowman’. This video will help you learn them by heart (there’s no music reading required). Have fun, and get everybody to join in and sing with you at Christmas time 🙂

Click here for more information on my music teaching.

Advent calendar: 6

Today’s creation is a version of Deck The Halls. I recorded a video of this song back in 2010, when we were living in Australia. I was looking for a good drum loop to use for this recording and stumbled on this interesting 12/8 flamenco pattern (3+3+2+2+2) called a Buleria, from Andalusia in Spain. I left out the ‘fa la la’ refrain (well, kind of…), and changed the chords a bit.

I’d been having some technical problems over the past few days, which had me down a bit, but I actually got myself Ableton Live earlier this year — a really powerful DAW (digital audio workstation). I had been thinking that I’d get round to learning its intricacies “one of these days”. Well, my other equipment stopping working forced me to just bite the bullet!

It’s so easy to use, and I had lots of fun putting down the harmony vocals and the guitar solo 🙂

I took the words from Cerys Matthews’ brilliant book, ‘Hook, Line & Singer’ (changing a couple). It’s a lovely volume of sing-a-long songs – a great Christmas present for a parent of small children.

Enjoy! Please like and share, too ❄❄❄

Advent calendar: 3

Juuuust sneaking in ahead of the deadline for this one today! I’m deviating from the Christmas theme a bit in honour of the fact that today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of ‘Rubber Soul’ by The Beatles. Their sixth album, and probably my favourite of theirs.

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Workers at EMI factory in Hayes, Middlesex, packaging Rubber Soul, 1965

I recorded this on my Yamaha Clavinova and used an app called Drumgenius for the drums. Check it out, musicians, if you’d like to replace your metronome with more interesting beats. There are over 400 loops on it now. You get three free when you download the app and then you can buy bundles (10 for €0.99, 50 for €2.99).

The arrangement is from a book called ‘The Beatles for jazz piano’: eleven classic Beatles songs arranged in jazz style by Steve Hill.

Please like and share 🙂

Advent Calendar: 2

Today, under the second window of my creative Advent calendar, is my cover of John Mayer’s jazz waltz Christmas love song, St Patrick’s Day.  The guitar chords are very, very much up my street, and our voices have a similar range. 

If you’re interested in learning how to play the song, I’d recommend getting the published sheet music. It’ll save you a lot of trouble. Believe me, there is a lot of incorrect stuff on the internet when it comes to music…! My go-to site for lyrics and chords is Sheet Music Direct. Paying a euro for their clear formatting and accuracy is absolutely worth it, compared to trawling around hoping the person who posted such-and-such a tab actually knows what they’re talking about :-/

Click here to go to St Patrick’s Day lyrics & chords on Sheet Music Direct.

Okay, without further ado, here’s my version of the song — enjoy!

Advent Calendar: 1

I’m going to post something every day of Advent!

First up is something special that I’ve been meaning to get done for aaaages. It’s a piano arrangement of the Christmas classic, Winter Wonderland, written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (lyrics by Richard B. Smith). I wrote this at the request of one of my piano students at the time, Chloe. A big, big thank you to my friend Mark Summers and his father, Ian, for their advice on the musical typesetting.

So, please have a listen 🙂 The mp3 is downloadable, so feel free to add it to your Christmas playlists! Just click the little ‘down arrow’ at the top right of the SoundCloud player below.

If you’re a piano player, the sheet music is available in PDF format at my online music store – click here to go directly to the score. I’d really love you to share this with friends, too.

Someone Like You (Adele) — piano tutorial

I’m teaching piano two days a week at the moment at a primary school in Dalkey. It’s a maternity leave cover and the teacher I’m covering for left brilliant notes and guidance for me. Some of the students are doing work on Royal Irish Academy of Music grades, but most are beginners. With the beginners I’m mostly using John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course, with a few using Me and My Piano.

  
One of my students has been coming in to lessons and playing snippets of songs that she’s learned from YouTube videos, mostly Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ and, last week, Damien Rice’s ‘9 Crimes’.

When I got home yesterday, I did a search for tutorial videos for the Adele song. Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few, and the one I looked at had nearly 800,000 views! It was okay, but didn’t particularly demonstrate a good hand position, or in fact have the exact accompaniment part that’s on the recording. So I decided to make my own.

It’s actually a bit tricky to set up a camera to shoot down onto the keyboard while you’re playing. I’d tried once before, a few years ago out in Dunboyne, using a music stand with my iPad on it. This time, I dug out an old PC webcam we had bought in Australia and clipped that to a tripod. It still had to sit awkwardly between my legs, but it didn’t matter much for this piece, since there’s not a lot of movement in the hands.

Anyway, see what you think. Any feedback would be much appreciated. What could I improve on?

PS I’m offering a discount on lessons if you sign up before Christmas.