Reading My Way Around the World

Friday 9 February 2018

Keeping Interested

This is how motivated I've been feeling lately!!

As with most jobs, being a musician has lots of bits that are boring, repetitive and hard to stay focussed on ... I'm thinking mainly of PRACTICE!!   That dreaded word.   It takes a lot of discipline to keep doing your daily work, or in my case it's more like sporadic or at best weekly work a lot of the time, especially just after coming home from a tour or after finishing a project.   Problem is, when I don't do the work, come the start of the next tour or project, it's like starting from scratch again.   It doesn't help the mood, or the confidence,  one tiny bit.  

This quote has been attributed to many people of all musical disciplines.... Yikes.

So to stay interested I play games with myself.   And the internet is a great tool.   I find new singing exercise videos, or new guitar videos, or I'll try out songs from a singer that I haven't gone back to for a while.   And after teaching classes I'll occasionally take half an hour to sing songs out of one particular book and sing at the top of my voice (usually when Tom's out of the house!) while battering the hell out of the piano in the process.  And of course Singmarra keeps me focussed on a weekly basis where I have to do my warm ups or else my voice will collapse.

Recently I came across this great warm up voice video.  Perhaps you'd like to try it.  If you're at all interested in improving your voice or in just keeping it functioning well - I particularly think of teachers in this respect - then warming up is crucial and this one from Mark Baxter is a really excellent and simple one.  Be warned, Mark doesn't speak throughout it, so don't do what I did and close your eyes - you'll want to follow the instructions on the screen for the first run through anyway.

Now to find someone or something to trick me into spending more time doing publicity or social media or tour booking .... humph.  I think I'll go and play with paint for half an hour first ... or maybe the ironing would be fun lol

How do you get yourself through the boring bits of your work?   Any and all tips most gratefully received.

Thursday 1 February 2018


My last year's Brigid's Cross

Lá Fhéile Bhríde  

Happy St Brigid's Day  

Blessings of Imbolc to you

 What a lovely way to finish this first month of the year with a blue moon and very big tides.  

The almost full moon and low tide at sunset - Monday 29th -Newcastle,Co. Down

I've always loved, and felt it was very right, that the 1st February marks the beginning of Spring.   I know that the astrological Spring doesn't actually start until 21st March, and the meteorological spring is different again, but today still feels like the beginning of the year.   Perhaps it just makes me feel more hopeful that the darker days of winter are nearly gone and brighter, warmer days are just around the corner.   It seems very long to have to wait another 7 weeks to feel like that!!.   
The snowdrops are already in bloom - have been since Christmas - I spotted some daffodils today, and already the days are a good bit longer.  

Imbolg (also Imbolc) is a time of transition and initiation, both a gateway and a celebration. The word 'Imbolg' translates from Gaelic as 'in the belly' after the swollen abdomen's of the pregnant ewe's. The Festival of Brigid is celebrated on 1st February all across Ireland and increasingly in countries where Celtic soul beats strongly in the hearts of many. Imbolg heralds days growing longer and buds starting to open as our sap rises too. 

Brigid is renowned both as a pagan goddess and a Christian saint.   She was born in Faughart in Co. Louth, just a few miles from here.  And although she is one of the patron saints of Ireland, she also has deep associations with Wales and Glastonbury.  

Here are some links you might like to follow to find out more about this archetype of the divine feminine in Celtic culture.  

The annual Brigid of Faughart Festival happens over this weekend and ties in with a summer festival
Brigid's Way - links to the place most associated with her in Kildare.  
The Newgrange website has more great information about the origins of Imbolc and about the passage tombs at the hill of Tara where the sun lights up the altar on both Samhain and Brigid's Day.  

* * * * * * * * 
This lovely poem by Kieran Murray can be read in its entirety on the Brigid's Way website.


For our Pagan Goddess
The Flame it burned bright
As nineteen priestesses
Tended it every night.

And the other St Brigid
Her Christian counterpart
When accused of being wicked
Held hot coal to her heart.

So we honour both Brigids
On their Feast Day the same
As we craft a reed cross
At Imbolc in their name.