Dreamer: Alex Ryan
Dream: Play the Grammys
I’ve been playing bass guitar since I was twelve years old, and it’s always been my ambition to become a professional musician. The pinnacle of any musician’s career is undoubtedly going to be a Grammys performance; you get to show off your musical chops in front of some of the biggest names in the business, on one of the most legendary stages around.
In 2012, I started playing with a musician named Andrew Hozier-Byrne (a.k.a. Hozier) who I met in college. We didn’t know it at the time, but just two and a half years later, we’d be sharing the Grammys stage, performing his world-wide hit song Take Me to Church together. It was the culmination of many years of hard work and practice, and was definitely the highlight of my career so far.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall… Everybody knows that practice makes perfect, but when it comes to playing an instrument, it really is key. I choose to play bass guitar, but it applies to any and every discipline; you have to get so comfortable with the instrument that it must feel like an extension of yourself. This requires rigorous practice, daily if possible.
Play with your friends I went to Trinity College Dublin to study music, and that’s where I met Andrew. We played together in the Trinity Orchestra before working together on his solo stuff. The experience of playing with other live musicians is a necessity when it comes to preparing for a career in music. I was lucky to get that grounding in Trinity.
It took many months of touring to be ready We didn’t just hop up onto the Grammy stage fully-formed; it took many months of gigs all over the world to prepare the band for the big one. We played Letterman, Ellen, SNL and Glastonbury; each of these big gigs helped to hone and relax the seven-man band.
What I Learned
It can all happen very quickly Hozier’s rise to the top happened very rapidly indeed; Take Me to Church was released at the end of 2013, it quickly stormed the charts all over the world, and by 2014 we were touring full time. You have to stay ready at all times!
Don’t just stick to one instrument My training at Trinity meant I could branch out into other musical areas; I played piano on Hozier’s record, and even got to score for the BBC orchestra during a string-enhanced version of Take Me To Church. I now serve as Musical Director for the entire backing band.
Relax and have fun At the end of the day, if you’re uptight then your playing is going to be uptight. It can be tough not to be nervous when it gets to the bigger stages, but the most important thing is to have fun while you play. If you can take that with you anytime you get on stage, you’ll put on a good show.
Fulfill Your Dreams
Do you want to play music for a living? Do you dream of stepping out onto the biggest stages in the world? It might be closer than you think! Share it with your fellow BUCKiTDREAMERS and encourage each other to take your dreams to the next level.