Category Archives: videos

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.

Bad Ambassador

This is one of my favourite Neil Hannon songs, from the ‘Regeneration’ album. I hadn’t seen the video until this morning, when I got to it in rather a roundabout way. I was watching Portlandia, season 2, the episode where Kirsten Wiig plays the groupie/stalker/kidnapper. Amber Tamblyn does a turn as an intern in the feminist bookstore, too. And there’s another guest, Miranda July, who plays someone who’s had a bunch of jobs but, happily (and to a musical number) “she’s making jewellery now”.

Miranda July is a Portland-based artist, married to artist Mike Mills who directed the ‘Bad Ambassador’ video. There’s a connection, too, via the roller-skating theme, to the video Emma J Doyle and Cory Philpott shot in San Francisco for James Vincent McMorrow’s song, ‘Gold’…

…which we’ll be performing a special version of at Electric Picnic this weekend!

My favourite things, currently; also, a cool thing about Kimbra’s new album

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Portlandia (been binge-watching it on Netflix since coming home from Canada)

Running (I hurt my calves trying to run like an elite athlete. Jenny explained, with the aid of a lady from the internet, how to do good stretches. Now I have a book about running.)

Hendrick’s gin (which I completely ran out of last night)

Kimbra’s forthcoming album, ‘The Golden Echo’ (is that Prince on ‘Everlovin’ Ya’?? addendum: nope, it’s Bilal… Is that Little Dragon on ‘Love In High Places’???)*

* Tom Moon, the reviewer on the NPR site, muses on the album’s title; of how “there’s a trace of magic in an echo. It’s like Narcissus’ reflection, only better”. I was racking my brain trying to place the piano and orchestra melody that appears a couple of times in between tracks — was it Tchaikovsky? Then it dawned on me: Rachmaninoff’s ‘Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini’, variation 18.

This is an inspired choice. The melody comes late in Rachmaninoff’s work, a beautiful tune after a lot of virtuosic fireworks based on the famous Paganini Caprice for violin (you know it…). This new tune doesn’t seem to bear any relation to Paganini’s, though. And here’s the thing — it’s a literal “reflection, only better”. In music it’s called an inversion:

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Rachmaninoff taking stuff he loved from the music of the past and refashioning it. Tip of the cap to you, Kimbra 😉

Two inches below the heart

Yesterday we played on the radio — Ray D’Arcy’s show on Today FM. It was a really good experience. We haven’t done a lot of ‘pure’ radio as a band, i.e. without any video/webcast element. Not having a camera there made for a more relaxing atmosphere. Just as we were setting up, Eamonn Dunphy was being interviewed about the previous night’s Twitter-igniting football match between Brazil (1) and Germany (7!) in the World Cup. At one point — I didn’t catch the context — he got up out of his seat and held up a pink dress against himself. Radio allows odd things to happen. When we’d finished, a cool-looking Australian man swallowed a sword and then a lady called in and let us all listen to her enjoying a custard slice. A rich tapestry 🙂

Here’s the Australian man, Aerial Manx, swallowing the sword:

Ray asked him how far down the sword goes into his body — the tip ends up two inches below his heart…

We played James’s latest single from Post Tropical, Glacier. You can hear it here, four minutes in:

http://www.todayfm.com/James-Vincent-McMorrow–live-session

James also played his brilliant cover version of ‘Higher Love’, which you can hear just past the ten minute mark.

Finally, a video of an acoustic version of the last single from Post Tropical, ‘Gold’, that James and I performed back in April at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on the afternoon of our show there. I’m wearing a ‘Post Tropical’-themed t-shirt that I found in Hamburg earlier this year.