The joy of coming full circle

The London EyeEverything comes full circle and I’m reminded of that more often than not. Take for example, bell-bottoms and leg warmers. Who would have thought they’d be cool twice in my life-time? Or platform shoes, of which I’m still afraid to walk in.

Even when it comes to my writing. I come up with an idea, I start writing. I take my words in another direction (maybe a few) yet I always end up writing about my original concept. Coming full circle.

For the last 4-5 months, I’ve been learning various other genres of music on my fiddle other than Irish music. I’ve been practicing some jazz, blues, folk and everything under the sun except for Irish music. It was not intentional. I was taking a class and Irish music was just not on the syllabus. I’ve also been participating in drum workshops and dance workshops that are completely unrelated to Irish music. Continue reading

Irish sessions: because playing with others is more fun

Irish flute playerNo matter how many tunes you learn, or how good you play them, it’s always more fun to play with other people. Whether it’s just getting together in someone’s house, performing for an audience or playing in a session, music is a social thing and is meant to be shared.

One of the things I love about living in Vermont besides the beautiful scenery and the fact that people care about each other, is there is a large community of Irish musicians and sessions all around the state to play in.

Aside from the weekly Saturday session at Bagitos in Montpelier (from 2-5pm), there are two more sessions coming up in the next week to play in or listen to:

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Smile, it’s contagious

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

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

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

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

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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