How music is like mountain biking

June 29, 2016
Mountain Biker

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I have rediscovered my love for mountain biking. Recently, I went out on an all-women’s mountain bike ride. I have to admit I felt a bit out of shape, especially on the climbs where I held steady as the caboose of the group. (In my defense I still ride a hard tail and was most likely twice the age of the women I was riding with). While I was out there sucking wind, I realized that you don’t ever forget how to ride a bike. But, if you don’t keep it up, you do however, forget how to ride it well.

It’s the same with music. Unfortunately, you can’t just pick up your fiddle every once in a while and play like Liz Carroll. You actually have to practice it, and often. Otherwise, you get a bit rusty. Read the rest of this entry »


Irish music in June

June 5, 2016

June, when the weather is warm, the days are long and music festivals and concerts in Vermont are abundant. June is the true beginning of summer and what better way to enjoy it but with some Irish music. There are a couple of Irish music events around Vermont this month that you won’t want to miss:

Irish Music Festival – June 17-19

Turalough O'CarolanIf you like the music of Irish harper and composer, Turough O’Carolan, check out the 10th Annual Carolan festival, a festival filled with lessons, workshops, concerts, sessions, dancing and more, all celebrating the music of Turough O’Carolan.

This year’s featured performers include Irish harper, Máire Ní Chathasaigh and guitarist, Chris Newman. Other performers include harper Dominique Dodge, harper Hilary Farrington, piper Benedict Koehler, The Fiddleheads and more.  See the full line-up of performers and festival events.

Deadline for pre-registration and to pay for meals is June 10.

Date: June 17-19, 2016
Place: Worcester, Vermont
Register:  Contact Us

Irish Fiddler, Frankie Gavin – June 21

Frankie Gavin, FiddlerFrankie Gavin began playing whistle at age 4 and fiddle at age 10 and by the time he was 17 he placed first in the All Ireland Fiddle Competition and in the All Ireland Flute Competition on the same day. His influences were Michael Coleman and James Morrison and helped to form the band De Dannan in 1973. He has recorded 16 albums with the band and a handful of solo albums. He’s played with Stephane Grapelli, The Rolling Stones and Earl Scruggs. Learn more about Frankie.

Date: June 21, 2016
Time: 6-8:30pm
Place: Burlington Violin Shop, Church Street, Burlington, VT
Cost: $25
Register: email mark.sustic@gmail.com

There are only 40 seats available so register today!


Music that makes you want to dance

April 10, 2016

One of things I love about Irish music, and most Celtic music in general, is it makes me want to get up and dance. After all, it is dance music. Dancing is such a big part of this tradition and learning the dances actually helps in learning the tunes. This weekend, whether you’re a musician or not, you too can learn to dance.

Read the rest of this entry »


The key to being a good musician

April 5, 2016

Key of a TuneI’m always impressed with melody musicians who can just call out the key of the next tune they are going to play. I have a hard time just lifting my foot to say I’m switching tunes. Not to mention, most of the time I have no idea what keys I play in. Aren’t all fiddle tunes in D or G?

I was talking to one of my friends the other day who is a great fiddle teacher. She said that when she teaches a tune to someone, she first teaches them the key and to get familiar with what notes might be in the tune. Then she teaches them the tune.

Because most tunes in this tradition are taught by ear, you may not know what key a tune is in. Here are a few ways to quickly figure it out on your own:

Read the rest of this entry »


100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising

March 20, 2016

Easter risingI didn’t grow up in a very religious family. We were not required to go to church on Sundays but we did celebrate Christmas eve and Easter at church every year. Easter for us as kids was more about waking up to a basket filled with candy that some imaginary bunny delivered, a big dinner with family and the Easter Bonnet parade on TV. But this time of year represents so much more.

This Easter, is a special year as it marks the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. To help commemorate the event there will be a gathering on Sunday, March 27 at 1:00pm outside Burlington City Hall. All are invited to attend.

Read the rest of this entry »


St. Patrick’s Day festivities

March 5, 2016

I’m claiming March St. Patrick’s Month. I mean why limit the music and celebration to just one day? There is so much going on in the next few weeks it’s almost impossible to keep track of it all. Below is my attempt. In the meantime, check out this band coming to the Barre Opera house:

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How playing music is like playing poker

February 14, 2016

poker chipsRecently, I was talking to an old college friend who is a professional poker player now and has been for over 10 years. I find this profession to be very intriguing (if only I could play poker).

I imagine the life of a poker player is similar to the life of a professional musician in that, some weeks you make a lot money and other weeks — not so much.

When asked what life was like in a non-traditional career, my friend told me that during the times where he seemed to be on a losing streak, he would play more to work through it.

I thought this was an interesting strategy which must take some serious discipline. Much like playing music.

Read the rest of this entry »


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