We are a five-piece band. I play keyboard and sing, Freya Monks sings, Scott Halliday plays guitar, Alan Elliott plays bass, and the lovely Paul Kenny plays drums. (They’re all lovely, but I’m singling Paul out because I’m feeling guilty at listing him last.)
We recorded some demos in February this year. Please have a listen and pass on this link to anyone who you think might like us. As I wrote in our bio, we are ‘seeking to spread music and joy throughout the land’!
A full-on share on your Facebook page would be absolutely wondrous. A message to a friend who’s looking for a band for a wedding or event would be sublime.
(So I’ve missed a few – I’ll fill in the gaps next year!)
Today, I’ve made a tutorial video for a piece that you might recognise from Greg Lake’s moody Christmas hit, ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’. It’s called ‘Troika’ and was written by the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev and is in his ballet ‘Lieutenant Kije’. This easy piano arrangement was done by the prolific composer and arranger Pauline Hall and is one of the 2016 Preliminary exam piano pieces set by the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
Troika is the Russian word for three-of-a-kind and here depicts a team of three horses pulling a sleigh.
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.
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 🙂
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
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.
I really like this melody (it’s a Basque carol) and I find its subject matter, the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, one of the most interesting episodes in the Gospels. Like a lot of the stories of Jesus’ genesis, it’s not dealt with in *all* the gospels. Matthew, after his lengthy family tree (*this* is what the bible’s editors ran with for the opening of the New Testament…?!), outlines quite clearly the rather delicate situation that the young couple found themselves in, concerning this surprise pre-nuptial pregnancy, but doesn’t go into the specifics of ‘The Annunciation’. Mark, the breathless, bounding lion of a writer that he was, skips it and everything to do with Jesus’ early life. As does John (although he wins for best introduction). Luke, the doctor, the man of learning, he gives us everything we know about Mary’s bizarre encounter.
“Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
She’s perplexed at his angelically formal hello (fair enough), but he hasn’t even got to the good part yet…!
Many artists have painted the scene throughout the ages. The one I’ve chosen is by Carl Heinrich Bloch, a prominent 19th century Danish painter. The light effect is incredible. (The original hangs in Denmark’s national museum in Frederiksborg Castle, north of Copenhagen.)
PS If you’re listening on headphones, or on good speakers, marvel at the beautiful sound of the Nord Stage piano sound (I’m using one that’s sampled from a Steinway Model D). Especially the harmonics and overtones on the ‘most highly favoured lady’ phrase.
Happy Christmas! This is a jazzy arrangement of ‘Winter Wonderland’ that I did last year for one of my piano students, Chloe, just as I was finishing up my teaching and preparing to embark on this year’s Post Tropical adventure. I’ve made it downloadable, so feel free to add it to your seasonal playlists…!
I’ve also revamped my website, so this is also an announcement of that. Feel free to ‘share’ and ‘bookmark’ and ‘like’ and ‘follow’ in the spirit of holiday cheer!!!