The case for teaching…

Many musicians write, perform and teach, and I have often wondered which of these disciplines has a bigger impact on people’s lives. It’s a topic I have discussed with many colleagues over the years.

A great song can accompany you throughout your life, can alter your mood and may bring back strong memories. A great gig can bring you (as an audience member or musician) to places emotionally that are hard to access otherwise. A great teacher can have more of a steady yet individual impact over a longer period of time and can influence the direction a life may take.

The argument for the last of these 3 options grew stronger as I watched and intermittently took part in the celebration night put on by the Hawk’s Well Theatre on Saturday night for Gerry Grennan. To see musician after musician, guitarist after guitarist come on and tell stories (on and off-stage) about how Gerry had influenced them over the years was wonderful, eye-opening, and a real credit to the man himself. His legacy in this part of the world is significant and secure.

Then Sunday brought the first of the three workshops in which we will prepare for the 4th end-of-year Teenage Showcase in the Hawk’s Well Theatre. Almost 100 teenagers in the room and a few of them students of Gerry Grennan no doubt!

And I thought back to a piano teacher I had at that age who went out of her comfort zone and area of speciality to help me learn songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Bumble Boogie. Not only that, but fought on my behalf so that I would be allowed to perform them at the then classical-only school concert.

Actions on her behalf that changed the course of my life, similar to what Gerry has done for many over the years, and hopefully some of these teenagers will look back in years to come and see these Teenage Nights and the guidance provided by the likes of Sinéad Conway, Dave Flynn and Niamh Crowley as important parts of their musical development.

The theme this time is Grammy-winning songs. The show will take place on May 9 and 10 and tickets went on sale here at 10am this morning (Monday). Once again this year a big thanks to EJ Menswear are supporting us in putting on these extra workshops, and to Summerhill College for lending us their facilities.

Finally, Weekly Challenge #8 has just been uploaded here. Hakuna Matata is the subject of this week’s 6 questions. For musicians of all levels. Go on – give it a go!