Sunday, December 28, 2008

May 12th 2008

So this breath caught in my chest because the lyrics were ruthless and the music was like polished glass and I felt like I was standing in the middle of a cavernous room with mirrors everywhere, echoing, voice bouncing off the walls. The breath started to swell because I was inspired and sort of touched and I suddenly grinned and wanted to do all of the silly things that make me me. I also wanted to be a scene girl because scene girls have the funniest faces and take themselves so seriously and I would laugh to take myself seriously. The room is so shiny and self-fulfilled and thin.

The breath almost always comes out as harmony and minor but sometimes it doesn't come out, it just stays in my chest and grows and grows and I want to go outside so that it has room to expand and the sun shines on my face and the sounds ring in my ears like the echo in the cavernous room. I'm not sure how this is supposed to make me feel but it makes me feel like this. And I feel the onset of 17 and diets and cupcakes and running around in fields with friends and spending money on things that make me happy as a GIRL with an eye for pretty or quirky or so-uncool-it's-cool.

And I'm thinking about all the ways I can play the piano and I don't want to be rich, and I don't want to be famous but I want to spend days with friends driving around green countryside with picnic baskets and running into the sea and doing things I'm afraid of and finding a boy and getting excited everytime he texts me.

I want to pine for my friends and the for the pining to end and I want to eat lettuce all summer long and go to the gym and make friends who like to sing spontaneously and make videos of themselves being ridiculous because let's be honest, nothing else matters.

Turn to the Music:
THE FEAR by Lily Allen

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flu Network

Ah, everyone's favourite annual visitor has finally made its call to me. Hurray I have the flu! Oh joy! I get the Christmas gifts of runny noise, hacking cough, burning throat, painful sinuses, nausea and fever! Golly golly gum drops, lucky me!

Well now I can look forward to a wonderful Christmas under the influence of powerful cough-suppressants! And I have the perfect accessory to such a festive state:  cheery red nose from the constant tissues! 

Last week I played at the UK Yule ball, and looking at the photos I generally look crap in all of them. However, the one that I look okay in features me holding a packet of throat lozenges, and indeed sucking on one. (see above)

If you are unfortunate enough not to have recieved a visit from Mr. Flu, then fear not! Eat all your vegetables, do your homework and be good! He may come to you next year. :)

Turn to the Music:
Nothing like The Hermione Crookshanks Experience to make you happy again, if a little melancholic. I recommend "So Long" which can be found on her Myspace.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

UK Yule Ball

I'm a sap. I can't help thinking those thoughts that you might associate with an Christmas movie. They rarely make it out of my mouth, it's true. That's because I am completely aware of how corny and over-the-top I would sound if I said what I was thinking. However, if there were no censor button on me I would spew forth love and ramble greetings card-like lines constantly.

This past week has been no exception to the rule. Spending time (at long last) with my friends in London has had me on the verge of exploding in a shower of cuddles and love all over them. It was great. I had such a good time. The last time I got to spend time with them was in Chicago in August-too long ago by far. 

Leaving was hard. But I've decided not to be sad. Life is too short and I know that. There is a bright side: London is only an hour away on a Ryanair flight. It could be so much worse! Instead of moping I'm planning to have them over for my birthday in January. It will be amazing to have them here and to look after them and show them my life. 

Hopefully the next few weeks will go as quickly with something to look forward to.

Turn to the music:
 This little gem by the effervescent and talented Miss Bella Black from Friday night:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wizard Rock Seminar

Today I went back to the Music department of the university that I graduated from in September to give a seminar about Wizard Rock to a group of final year students.

The title of the paper is "The Internet's Influence in Shaping a Musical Movement" and it goes into the various ways that Wizard Rock has utilized modern online facilities to get to where it is today.

What I didn't get to talk about, and what doesn't have anything to do with the title, is how much I have learned through Wizard Rock. I was born the daughter of a Music teacher and grew up playing instruments, singing and listening to every kind of music but I do believe that I have learned more about music as a result of Wizard Rock than I did during my time studying for a degree in Music. Not kidding.

With my band Romilda Vane and the Chocolate Cauldrons (RVatCC), I wanted to write songs but I didn't know how to. So I just hit out a few notes and tried and tried until I manage to etch out a song. Then I wanted to record so I found out where do download a program, plugged in my mic and again, tried until I could do it.

When I started RVatCC I couldn't play piano. Pianos scared me. They were a scary reminder of terrifying lessons when I was a child. Recording made me use the piano and forced me to understand chords. Soon I was playing shows in the UK and USA and I had written an album.

About two years ago I began taking theory lessons because I wanted to understand what I was playing and why some things worked and some things didn't. Now I've reached a pretty high standard of music theory, something I probably wouldn't have bothered to do without the Wizard motivation.

Not only did Wizard Rock remove my fear of the piano but after coming back from Terminus, a Harry Potter conference in Chicago and going on tour on the east coast of the USA for the second time, I picked up my guitar and learned to play it over the last three months.

Finally I've bought a macbook and a midi keyboard and I have to figure out how these work, so the learning continues.

I never had a reason to play music before but now I want to do it all the time. I feel so lucky that so many of my friends are now musicians and songwriters and all I want to do is immerse myself in that world.

One more thing that all this experience has taught me is that when I teach kids about music, I will never neglect the theory. I will try to get them interested in the music and have fun. Practice doesn't have to be a chore and it's never too late to learn.

Turn to the Music:

Well, it has to be something piano-y and by me. :) 'Break This Spell' by Romilda Vane and the Chocolate Cauldrons

(photo by Squib Girl, 2008)

Monday, December 1, 2008


You know how it is when you're young: your mother is friends with someone and so you are expected to socialize with their children. You do it because you have to, not because you want to.

That's what happened with Martha and me. We were very young, maybe 3 and 4 years old, forced together by our mothers' friendship. I didn't like her. She was too quiet and she used to copy everything I did. Also, she was from the country and knew how to grow vegetables and look after chickens and things I had no clue about.  

At the age of 12 or thereabouts something suddenly clicked into place and Martha and I became good friends, going from strength to strength in our friendship over the years. Over the years I watched as she turned from a quiet little country girl to a confident, cool, talented adult and maybe as a result of that I feel more like she is my sister than just my friend. 

She is the person that I queued up for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with for 16 hours and read it with, surviving on a diet or chocolate, tea and kettle chips.

Sadly we recently realised that we haven't seen each other in nearly a year. Because of going to college on opposite ends of the country , we haven't hugged since my 21st birthday last January.

Martha will turn 21 on the 9th December 2008 and I will be there, in Belfast to celebrate with her. The best part is that we both know that no matter what happens, no matter how far apart we are or how long we go without seeing each other, we will always be friends. We can always pick up where we left off.

Can't wait to see you, Martha. <3

Turn to the Music: 

In memory of the summer spent watching DIGIMON!!! This fun fun fun track "All Star" by Smash Mouth

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turn Up The Musing

'On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree."

Well it's not quite the first day of Christmas, it is however the third day that I have woken up to a blanket of ice covering my car and freezing fog hanging eerily in the air. Imagine my delight when, on Friday morning, after waking up to find that my alarm had not gone off and I was late for work, I opened the door to a virtually opaque world. I had to feel my way to the car armed with jugs of water to melt the windscreen. 

Now don't get me wrong, I hate hazardous driving conditions as much as the next person. But there is something so reassuring about winter being, well, winterish. Especially living in Cork, the Wet and Warm Capital of Ireland, it's nice to see some evidence of the change in seasons. Although I'm not crazy about waking up in the dark, working through the daylight hours and driving home to see a 4pm sunset.

Some people will blame global warming for this unusually bitter weather but I must say that it brings me back to my child hood. Many happy mornings were spent crunching across the frozen grass on my way to school bundled up in hats and scarves and anoraks. Good times. Personally I'm looking forward to the opportunity to don my favourite hats and scarves again. Nothing says "WINTER!" like disappearing under a sea of mittens and socks.

So come on people! Stop complaining! Stoke up that fire, pull out your comfiest blanket and snuggle down. If we're lucky we might just get a white Christmas!

Turn to the Music:

To keep my smile warm I'm listening to "Good Morning Baltimore" from the musical Hairspray.  Listen to it first thing in the morning to keep you happy for the rest of the day.