Smile, it’s contagious

November 27, 2016
African Djembe Player

Seny Daffe from Guinea teaches African drumming at the Zenbarn Studio in Waterbury, VT.

When my mom was alive. She’d come to see some of my shows. She’d sit in the audience, clap loudly, tap her foot and let everyone around her know that her daughter was the one playing fiddle on stage. She’d watch me with a big-ass grin on her face. It didn’t matter what I played or whether I played well or not, I could tell she was proud of me.

There was however, one critique she always gave me. Every show she went to she’d say “Trina, you need to smile more.”

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One Voice – Make it heard

November 7, 2016

More than a few years back, I saw the Wailin Jennys perform this song live in Vermont. If you have ever seen them perform, you know you can feel their 3-part harmonies through your core. Their songs are passionate and emotional and the stories behind them are poignant.

Today, on one of the most important 24 hours of our lifetime, I heard this song on my Pandora station and it nearly brought me to tears (what can I say it’s been an emotional election cycle):

I remember them singing this song when they were here and telling the story of what it was about and why it was written. I think you can guess where I’m going with this. It’s a message about how we’re all coming from the same place, we’re all reaching for the same goal. We are all truly one.

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Outside the circle

November 3, 2016

irish sessionWhen you’re caught up in playing at a session I think sometimes we forget that people outside the circle are actually listening to us and our music makes an impact.

A few weeks ago I attended the bi-weekly Irish session at the Jericho Cafe in Jericho. It was a small session but the tunes were mighty (and the food was good too!) and a good time was had by all. We sat in our circle drank beer and played for about 2 hours and then packed it up.

As I was packing up my fiddle, and getting ready to go, this older gentleman who was sitting at the table next to us listening intently, told me how much he appreciated our music. He told me that his wife had died a year ago, and his mother had died 3 years prior. His family was Irish so he grew up listening to Irish music and when he heard us play it reminded him of days gone by with his beloved family. He told me he goes out to hear music as much as he can and that this music was “just lovely.”

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The red string

October 14, 2016

Chas ConquestIn some Chinese folklore, it is believed that the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. I love this concept. I envision a red string attached to me throughout my life and everyone I meet touches it in some way, changing the course of my life.

It implies to me, that the meeting of someone new has an impact on both parties and shapes our future in some way. I can think of countless times throughout my life where this has held true.

One time in particular was when I met a man and musician, named Charlie Conquest. Those who knew him, knew him as Chas. Chas recently passed on from this world to play music in the heavens with countless other musicians who were taken from us far too soon.

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Creating a practice plan

October 2, 2016
music practice

Image courtesy of punsayaporn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In order to get better you must practice. I won’t say practice makes perfect because I’m not striving for perfect. I’m striving for better. And the only way to get there is to practice.

No one every really wants to practice. We all want to pick up our instrument and just sound great. But very few musicians are actual prodigies, most of us have to work at just improving where we are at today.

For most of my musical career, unless I was taking a class or lessons, I had no idea what to practice. So I would just learn tunes and work on the hard parts of those tunes. Occasionally, I’d play a scale or two but nothing was ever focused or planned.

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Going back to the beginning and starting over

October 1, 2016

Learning Tunes by EarAs a traditional Irish fiddler, I have never learned how to improvise on the fiddle. Like most other traditional musicians I know, everything I play, I learned by ear.

This past week I started a class at Berklee College of Music on basic improvisation. It’s only been a week and I can confidently say it’s probably one of the hardest classes I have ever taken. It’s challenging in so many ways. One because I never really learned my scales and most of the time I have no idea what key I’m playing in. And two, because I am starting from the very beginning. I’m doing something I’ve never done before and it’s intimidating and scary.

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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 »