Hey there and welcome to the Big Apple School podcast. My name is Sam.
And I’m back here again. My name’s Ken.
Welcome back! And today we’re asking what’s the craic about music. So what are we gonna talk about? Tell us.
Love me like you do, love me like you do!
I don’t know the wooords…
That’s the soundtrack to… that film… what are you waiting fooor? Ugh, I can’t remember.
Well, I have a couple of things for you here, but why don’t we begin with the first question that I have prepared for you.
So you’re gonna ask me about music and what I like? Can we talk about what you like?
They’re probably, you know, the listeners… I’m sure…
They’re gonna write… Well, how you feel… I don’t know… How I feel about books is like… When I read a book, it’s enjoyable to me, of course it depends on a book. It’s enjoyable, it’s relaxing, I can go into another world, you know, enter into another world and sort of escapism, I guess. And maybe that’s the same for you?
And all kinds of musicians and bands and stuff.
And then you’re gonna find out, cause you don’t know what I like, do you?
Yes, I’d be very interested to know.
And the listeners are gonna find out what you like as well.
Yes. So why don’t we start it off with the first one here? Do you like listening to music?
Oh! Why not? That’s so sad!
Sometimes. In what situations do you like listening to music?
When I guess when I’m… just in that mood or I don’t know… maybe feeling a little bit tired or worn out and I’ll.. a little bit of music okay. It’s not necessarily that scenario, I just have to be in the mood for music of any description.
So it’s a way to relax I guess?
And sometimes I listen to music before I go to sleep but not too much, not every night. Sometimes I don’t even want to do that.
Yes, I’m so shocked! Music is life!
I have the same – books are my music.
Oh, okay. Books are music to you.
I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but my point is, well.. why do you listen to music?
I listen to it because, well, it gives me, as I’ve said, it gives me so much life. By the way, I listen to music every day because, you know, at the beginning of the day I always want something to energize me.
In the morning when I start the day I listen to mostly pop music, dance songs, and then in the afternoon sometimes I would listen to maybe R’n’b and then at the weekend maybe a little bit of old-school rock.
How do you feel without music? How would you feel without music?
That would be a sad sad life. I can’t imagine my life without music.
Does music give you a deeper meaning in the world? Does it make you have a different perspective?
I would say that music is a kind of a.. how would I put it… I save memories in songs, so, for example, if I listen to a particular song, for example, ‘Love me like you do” by Goulding it reminds me of 2015…
The way… exactly! That’s the way, you know, I see music. It’s a kind of a different world, that’s apart from reality and it makes me always happy. Well, it depends on the kind of song, because sometimes the song can move me to tears.
Definitely. But I have to say though that when I’m sad, I also like listening to sad songs, especially those that make me, you know, cry a little.
Near, far, wherever you are… That’s enough…
We don’t wanna… you know…
What music do you not like?
I don’t think there’s anything in particular, but I would say that I’m not such a big fan.. maybe rap songs, especially the dirty ones, with a lot of explicit, you know what I mean.
I would tend to agree with you. And I’m not a fan of dance music.
I’m sure… I mean… I’m sure there are some songs that I can listen to and that’s okay, but I’m not a fan of it generally. And this… cause it just gives me a headache. Do you like that?
Maybe in clubs, but, you know, day-to-day music, day-to-day activities – no. So, only in certain places.
And what about you? Does music inspire you? Well you’ve already mentioned you like books, but..
I mean… It’s not… I mean, I don’t listen to music often, but I do listen to it. And mostly I favor instrumental.
It’s kinda new classical or mostly film soundtracks, but not exclusively, but that kind of music, but that would be used in a film soundtrack. That’s what I listen to. It’s… I listen to it mostly to just chill out and to use my imagination.
And I will always love youuuu….
I’m sure the listeners right now are thinking ‘oh my god, these two are butchering the songs”…
Kevin Costner and ‘The Bodyguard’… it’s not necessarily… I don’t mean film soundtracks as in with words..
I mean the backing music, you know.
I mean, but sometimes I would listen to the songs too…
I do not sing every day, that’s a lie. Actually I say I don’t listen to music, but I’m known to break into a song..
and you say you don’t sing.
I’ve been known to sing in the shower, I’ve been known to sing just anywhere basically, even in the classroom.
What do students tell you when you sing during the class?
They don’t tell me anything, they try to back away a little bit, you know.
They try to be polite, not to say anything negative.
Well, one or two have said that I sing okay, maybe that’s the best thing we can think of. They’re afraid.
How would you rate yourself though?
I’m not a professional singer, and there’s no danger of me becoming a professional singer. I don’t think people would pay to hear me, but I can sing okay.
I’m sure your wife will pay to listen to you
Do you think my wife needs to pay?
I’m sure you’re gonna give it to her for free.
Here’s the thing – I’ve always said that to my students that if I weren’t a teacher now, I would probably be a professional singer having concerts around the world, signing autographs. It isn’t so much about the fame, but more about the passion.
I love music so much. But then again, you know, this is how I imagine it – so God talking to me and I tell God “please, give me a beautiful voice”, and then God tells me “Um, no, you’d be better off as a teacher”.
And I thought then, well, okay, it’s not that bad of a profession. I do love teaching. However, you know, between being a professional musician or a singer…
You can teach through music.
I have done that, actually!
You can sing, because you know what? This is gonna sound crazy, but…
I don’t mind, but I sometimes sing the questions I ask to students.
It’s a way to get their attention.
I do sing sometimes as a joke during the class. For example, ‘Oh you do it by yourself? All by myself’.
Oh no… We need back in music, quick, quick, do we a guitar?
Well, I don’t, unfortunately.
I have a confession to make.
I used to play guitar. I say I don’t like music, but it’s true. I mean I don’t class myself as a music lover. But I used to play guitar, but I never got good enough to perform. I learned…
Did you learn it by yourself?
I was learning by myself, I had a 6 strings steel acoustic guitar, and in black. It was Fender and I was given it for Christmas, I asked my parents. I mean, Santa, I asked Santa.
I was 19 or 20, so I wasn’t…
You were 19 or 20 and you asked Santa for…?
Maybe 17. No, I asked my parents. I’m joking about Santa. Santa is real though. As most of our listeners would appreciate.
Somebody has to tell them… Okay, but…
But I tried to learn. I genuinely admire people who play music. But…
I agree with that. Me too.
But, like you, I feel it’s not for me. I practiced for quite a while, but I was actually living away from home in Belfast and travelling back to my parents’ place in a smaller town Portadown, and that guitar… it wasn’t always practical to bring it back and forward, back and forward between the two places.
Because, you know, I travelled between at least once a week. And so the guitar practice fell by the wayside…
Well, yeah, I mean, I got to try, and I got tired of practicing. I wanted the results but I didn’t want the practice.
How long did you do that?
Off and on for a few years. But not for, you know, not for any dedicated amount of time, not for a long amount of time.
Don’t you miss it though?
I don’t. One day my guitar was sitting in the room and shame on me, my mom cleaned the room, and she accidentally knocked it down and the head of the guitar broke.
And I was like… I was relieved.
Yeah. I thought ‘great! That gives me more chance to paint now’.
Oh, okay. That distract you.
Or read books maybe. But I was painting and do paint models, model tanks, model soldiers, Warhammer and things.
And that’s what you’re doing now, with the models as well.
Well, yeah, but that’s what I decided… Well, I didn’t straightaway say ‘This is okay’. I was a little bit shocked. And my mom was horrified and she was like ‘I’ll buy you a new one’.
And I said ‘no’. I said ‘This gives me a chance…’. Well I thought about it and this gives me a chance to focus on what I enjoy most now. Because the practicing… It wasn’t the fact that the guitar would be great, it was the practicing.
Well, it’s just not for you. It’s hours.
Well, you want to become good, cause I wasn’t good yet, to become good you do need to practice and practice and practice.
You have to put in a lot of hours.
Just like with speaking English and speaking Russian or whatever.
Same goes for language. Well, do you go to karaoke?
I was at karaoke once, I didn’t like it.
I was with some… I was actually with some of the students here from BigAppleSchool, but it was… It was in a big big open area and it just… for me it just didn’t work.
I couldn’t hear myself and it wasn’t… it just wasn’t right, and I couldn’t hear myself, there were a lot of people singing at once….
I don’t know what to begin with… Cause I couldn’t hear myself. I think I… I mean, I like singing, if I’m honest. Even though I’m not a deep music lover, right. But I like singing. But karaoke for me is a little bit too much like a nightclub.
At least what I experienced. I don’t enjoy that. I don’t enjoy nightclubs.
Well, the thing here is – although I sing a lot, privately, at home or with friends…
I’m waiting for a solo by the way.
During the class, and speaking of karaoke, I do sing in karaoke with my friends, but what I do though is I drink a lot of beer…
Some sort of Dutch courage so that, you know, I won’t feel too shy anymore.
Yes. Beer… It depends on what else is available.
And then once I get the courage, of course, not just juice, I need alcohol…
You could be misquoted. I need alcohol! Okay, keep going, don’t let me interrupt you.
Yeah, you keep interrupting me. So, I would drink alcohol, just, you know, some Dutch courage, and then when I feel I’m okay, I’m ready, then I start singing. The last time I did that I guess that was in October of last year.
We went to this lounge, I don’t remember the name anymore, but it was open and everybody was listening and singing at the same time, then I thought ‘it’s alright, because I’m sure the people here are not focused on my voice, they’re here just to have fun’.
So, I sang my heart out, and guess what? The song that I sang was Adele’s ‘There’s a fire starting in my heart. Reaching a fever pitch’. You know this song, right?
I don’t want the listeners to suffer.
There’s a fire…. I don’t remember the words.
I know it, I know it, but I don’t remember the words.
I know that the song is a little too much for me, it’s, you know, high notes, but… I was already, you know, carried away, so I thought ‘never mind, I’m gonna sing my heart out’ and guess what?
I enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun. I have to say though that under, you know, normal circumstances I don’t sing in public. Just with friends or by myself in a room.
So you’re a little bit shy of singing.
I’m not so shy, it’s that my voice is….
I’m getting a mixed message, cause you say you sing in classes, but you don’t sing in public.
No, when I say public I’m talking about, like, big crowd. When there are other people I don’t know. At least in the class I know them.
You’re not doing concerts then.
And they’re my students – they’re not allowed to give any negative comments.
If they do, you give them double the homework.
Unlike in a karaoke, club, or in a lounge – there are other people there, and when they listen to you I feel very judged.
I only do that when, you know, when I drink some alcohol.
Now, by the way, what song did you sing last time? When you were in this, I don’t know, club or…
Hard to say… With you? Speaking with you?
No, I’m not talking about karaoke. Do you know what song you sang?
I know it was English, cause…
It wouldn’t be so easy for me to sing a Russian song. I know it was in English, but honestly, it was quite a while ago, more than a year ago.
Have you even sung a song in another language?
Yes. And I can give you, let me see… That’s my best attempt – if there’s anyone listening who knows what that is, I’m sorry.
Yeah, it’s Hebrew. A friend of mine, who lives in Japan, a friend of mine – he and I used to spread the gospel message and he lives in Japan, but he’s from Northern Ireland.
And he had learned this Hebrew song, which is quite popular now. He’s Northern Irish, he’s not Hebrew, he’s not Jewish.
Did you just say it’s a popular song?
Yes, of a sort. It’s actually the word taken from the bible, it means ‘behold how good and how blessed it is for brother to dwell together in unity’. Which is basically like promoting piece among family and friends.
So it’s a nice song, it’s a nice thing and I don’t know if my pronunciation is great, I don’t actually know anything else.
But at least not bad, one song.
Yeah. I mean, he taught me, so it’s like very fair hand I guess, because he is not… He doesn’t know Hebrew, and I don’t know Hebrew. Maybe it’s not the best, but yeah. And I know a little bit of the Russian national anthem.
Can you sing us some line?
Umm…. How does it go again? I’m drawing…
Россия священная наша держава – And that’s all I know, but…
I think that’s the most beautiful national anthem – no disrespect to, you know, other countries.
You know, it’s very very good.
It’s very good, don’t get me wrong, my wife is Russian, but I kinda like the Great British..
God save our… Well that’s my national anthem, so I have to say that, you know.
I know. But, you know, before, when I used to teach music appreciation and in the Philippines, I taught them the national anthem of America, but after listening to the Russian national anthem I totally believe in my heart it’s the best national anthem ever.
I’m not gonna argue. No no …
Nothing about, you know, the arrangement.
You’re entitled to have your opinion.
Everybody, I guess. There’s something about the arrangement that moves me personally.
I don’t know the Philippine national anthem. Can you sing it?
I’m not very keen on it to be honest. Anyway, I don’t wanna butcher our anthem, so that’s it.
Okay, fair enough, fair enough.
I have something interesting to ask you.
What songs did you learn as a child that you still remember today?
Right. Well, growing up… I grew up in a Christian family…
Oh my god is this another gospel song?
Well, if you’re asking me what I learned as a child…
We, I mean, we went to church regularly and lots of gospel hymns – I mean, a book full of gospel hymns, and I have a copy somewhere at home, so a lot of those. And I still know them, like ‘Amazing grace’. ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound’ and so on.
Were you a part of a choir?
Yeah, I’m glad you asked that.
Because, in actual fact, this is the guy that sells you another music, but I was part of… I went for a while to a Christian school, which.. it was obligatory to sing. It was obligatory to be a part of the choir, not every week or anything, but occasionally we would sing in front of the church.
I was a little nervous, but no so bad… Even when I was in primary one, which is like five or six, I would do the singing in a choir, not individually, not a solo. And I also would be a part of a youth choir when I was a teenager. And also later my dad and I both decided to join the men’s choir.
In a church. I mean, I think I enjoyed it. And I did enjoy it, and I felt I was contributing and making…. Helping in some way. And actually I was, and I think it was worth it. But… I mean, it was right for the time I think. But now I don’t tend to focus on music so much as I used to.
Well, probably you lost interest in it.
I mean, it’s not to say that I completely don’t really interest in music or no type of music at all, but it was just right for that time, I think. And what about you?
What do you remember from your childhood?
Alright, I still remember this one in particular ‘I have two hands, the left and the right. Hold on my hand, so clean and bright. Clap them softly one two three. Clean little hands are good to see’.
I love it. Education. With the moral – clean your hands, young people. Young boys, young girls, clean your hands. Stay healthy. You won’t get sick.
I have to say though – when I was a child, I really wanted to sing ‘Aladdin’. ‘A whole new world’.
I’m not getting that high, I cannot.
I didn’t know the words though. I gave up with my own words. It was my first …. Now I know the words, however, I still don’t have that great singing voice, so I just sing to myself. But not bad.
You can sing in your head as well. And no one will hear, and no one will know. And you know, that in your head you sound amazing. Right?
What’s your favorite song, young man? I’m calling you young man.
Does that sound patronizing?
I didn’t mean it that way. What’s your favorite song?
I have a lot of favorite songs. Okay, one of them is Celine Dion’s ‘Because you love me’, which I dedicate to my grandmother. Just a little bit of a sad story. I grew up with her, I considered her as my mother and when, you know, when she was still alive, I used to sing it to her.
I don’t wanna sing it, because, you know, I have such an awful voice, but I’m gonna just..
I know the song, I know the song. I like the song, actually.
For all those times.. And the point here is that she is the reason why I live life and.. yeah. ‘Because you love me’. And I’m able to do everything I wanna do – it’s because of your love, because you love me.
And there’s another one, which I dedicate to myself – I don’t know how it sounds, but I mean, do I sound selfish? It’s more like a self-love in a way. It’s called…
Continue and then I’ll tell you if you’re selfish.
No, it’s called ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera.
So you’re saying that you’re beautiful?
Well, as a person – my heart is beautiful.
‘I am beautiful no matter what they say’…
But it’s ‘You are beautiful’. You can sing it to yourself and that’s okay.
Absolutely. Especially when I’m feeling down – it’s like kind of self-empowerment, especially when you don’t believe in yourself or when you doubt yourself, it’s a way to motivate yourself.
What about you? Any favorite song?
Yeah. Yeah, a few, to be honest. I mean, I can’t really explain.
Please don’t say it’s gospel song. I’ve nothing against gospel songs by the way, but if you can hear another one.
There are some, of course, gospel songs that I really like. Well, one that came to mind was ‘You raise me up’.
Oh my god, I love that song!
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains…. That’s too high, that’s too high. Stop it, stop it. I also have a strong tendency to sing ‘Are you going to Scarborough fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Remember me to one who lives there. For she was once a true love of mine’.
Which is a very traditional English song, actually.
Scarborough in England, I believe. And it sounds Irish enough to me, I love Irish music, Irish folk music, of course. And I quite like it, and when I use, you know, the herb called thyme…
No, I’m not familiar with that.
In Russian it’s called чабрец, for anyone who’s listening. I believe чабрец, my pronunciation is terrible, I’m sorry. But when I use it to cook, I start singing that song, cause I connect it, you know. Thyme, right.
Perfect. Now, are you a fan of any singer, maybe band, or musician?
I respect singers who write their own music, and who perform with their own instrument, like a guitar or piano or something.
So… Ed Sheeran is I think very very very talented. And so, I don’t listen to him per se, I mean as a rule, but really I think his music is good and I respect him for being so talented. He is amazing.
Oh, dancing queen! Young and sweet, only seventeen…
Anyone can sing to that music. My dad loves Elvis Presley. ‘You’re nothing but a hound dog, crying all the time’. Which is, again, you can sing and dance to that quite easily too. But I would say Ed Sheeran. What about you?
As I’ve already mentioned, Christina Aguilera – my all time favorite female singer. When it comes to groups though, I’d say Maroon 5. ‘Sugar, yes, please’. You know that, right?
You’re not so much into pop songs, I guess.
You know, I’m not, and the thing is when it comes to modern music, I don’t even know what’s out there at the moment, I’m terrible. Which is why I say I’m not a music lover, I mean, people could sing songs to me and I’d be like ‘what’s that?’
I would maybe say ‘What’s that?’ and I would also not really care as well. Okay.
Now, what do you think the world would be like without music?
I honestly think it would be sadder. Although my world doesn’t have a lot of music directly. I think it would be sadder. I mean, music in soundtracks… I watch a lot of films and they’re there in the background, and without it the film wouldn’t be good.
So, at least for that I would still want to have music, I wouldn’t say no to music. I mean, it has to be in the background of a film.
There has to be some music and… so even someone I think who doesn’t enjoy a lot of music still maybe will enjoy it from… in the right context.
It’s a universal language. And same thing for me – I cannot live life without music, I believe the music makes the world go round.
Okay. That’s not exactly true to physics, but okay. So that was the craic about music. We talked about our different likes and dislikes.
How I’m not really a big fan, but you are. How you live, sleep, eat music. And I just, I have it there in the background, it’s part of my life, whether I realize it or not. We talked about our childhood and what we remember from that. And we talked about our favorites.
We even gave you a little bit of beautiful music to soothe you as you go to sleep.
I think we’re gonna get some…
So, that’s all about what’s the craic about music.