I Play the Music

“If you sit down and listen
I’ll play you a song
But I’d probably play anyway
I play the music
I play the music”

These are the first few lines of the song, I Play the Music. I wrote the song with my good friend Mark Renburke when we were playing together in an Irish band called The Rising Pints. We were playing lots of gigs in crowded bars. Sometimes people listened closely – sometimes people didn’t seem to listen at all. But you know, we played the music, yes we played the music – that’s what we did. For some people in the pubs, we were the focal point of the evening. For others, we were just a background for the fun and talking. And that’s fine, too. Because the music doesn’t always have to be at the center. Sometimes, the music is just the background that makes the rest of our life so much richer. Read More

Come Home Again

jukeboxparadiseflierIn the show, Jukebox Paradise, Deloris Keller sings the song Come Home Again. In the story, this song was a big hit during World War II and far away in the thick of the action, a wounded soldier named Fred is listening to the radio and the sound of her voice. It is this song, coming from so far away, that gives Fred the will to survive and to eventually come back home and build a new life.

The obvious meaning of the lyrics of Come Home Again is as an encouragement to the boys in the war reminding them that there is a life after the war, no matter how dark everything seems at the moment. People back at home haven’t forgotten them. They are still loved and remembered and the people back at home are still with them in their thoughts and hearts.

“My, it’s been so hard for you
You’ve been so long away
I’m not even sure how long it’s been
But I miss you every day
When you think you can’t go on
Just whisper on my name
I’ll be there, no matter where
I love you all the same.”

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Coindrop62 at Aichi Vision 2016

Aichi Vision is a great music and arts festival which is held in Tsurumai Park each year just at the end of summer. Tsurumai Park is probably best known at the moment as a scared place for pokemon and hundreds of zombie-like people can be still seen wandering around at 2am looking for pokemon. I believe that it has something to do with the shape of the central fountain as seen from above, but others more familiar with the world of pokemon may correct me at their leisure. I downloaded the app and caught a pokemon before deleting it (the app, not the captured pokemon). Then in Dublin, a friend persuaded me to re-download it and catch a Dublin pokemon. I can confirm that Dublin pokemon were equally uninteresting to me as Nagoya pokemon. I may be missing a vital poke-gene. Read More

“Today is the First Day” from Jukebox Paradise

Today is the First DayThis year, one of my big areas of focus is our rock and roll musical, Jukebox Paradise, produced by KPB Theatre. This is a musical theatre production that has been in my head since 1989 and it is finally coming to the stage at the end of November 2016 in Nagoya. Please contact me to get your tickets. The script was written by Gary Beaubouef and it is directed by Steve Pottinger. Below is a quick description that Sarah and I wrote up for the program: Read More

Joy of Soy

The other day, I was reading an interesting recipe that involved soy yogurt. I was about to pass on because soy yogurt struck me as one of those hard-to-get ingredients. There is always at least one of them in every recipe in the cookbooks that my sister gives me. That, of course, is because our average Japanese supermarket is designed to fulfill the needs of Japanese cookbooks rather than Western cookbooks. Fair enough.

So I was giving up on the recipe when it occurred to me that Read More

New book: 100 Days of Creativity

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Sarah and I have just published a new e-book designed to trigger and support creativity. You can download the book on the Amazon Kindle store.

This book arose out of our own efforts to stay creative over a long period of time and I can say with certainty that it works.

This book is based on a very simple concept. Each day, the book offers you a few triggers to get your creative juices going. And then it sends you off with the message “Now go and be creative”, because that is where you really should be putting your time and energy and passion.

There are little milestones along the way as you achieve the important 4 days, 10 days, 21 days and so on. The book is designed to help you create a new habit of creativity (pun intended!). As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

We enjoyed making it and using it and hope that it will be useful to other writers, songwriters, drama folk, poets, business folk or anyone else that wants to be consistently creative over a long period of time.

Here is the description of the book (and the other books that will be coming out in the same series).

Welcome to the 100 Days of Creativity series of books designed to support your creativity. This series is titled 100 Days of Creativity because we believe that great things begin to come about when people are consistently using their creativity over a sustained period of time. Like other physical and mental skills, creativity is a muscle, and the more you use it, the better you get at it.

Every creative effort has to start somewhere. If you look at any finished novel or play or story or song, it was initially triggered by something that the creator saw or heard or felt.

This book gives you 100 days of triggers to fire up your creativity. Each day, the book gives you three thought-provoking or inspirational quotes that will help you to foster the habit of being creative every single day.

Download the book on the Amazon Kindle store.

PANSIG Conference

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This weekend, I’m presenting at the JALT PanSig conference in Nago, Okinawa. The theme of the conference is Innovations in Education. And we definitely need some innovations in education throughout the world. I’ve been reading and enjoying Ken Robinson’s book, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education. It’s a great book by a well-informed writer who is also blessed with a sense of humour. Compared to some writing about education, this one is like watching Comedy Central. Hopefully, we will be sharing lots of ideas at the conference which follow along the same lines as Robinson’s suggestions.

Both of the PanSig presentations that I’m involved in are based on on-going research and teaching that I’ve been carrying out with various people over the last few years. Both are quite influenced by NLP. Both projects are also bringing more personalization and creativity into the classroom, two characteristics that I increasingly view as essential to real learning as I get older.

On Saturday at 1pm, I’ll be presenting with Ben Backwell about our course for helping university students to set and achieve goals. Then, on Saturday at 3pm, Sarah Mulvey and I will be doing a poster presentation on helping students to use more sensory language in their writing and speaking.

 

Generative Skills

Generative-model-1-e1314984752853Not all skills are created equal. I’m a big fan of continuing to learn and continuing to learn new skills. Recently, however, I’ve been frequently noticing the fairly-obvious fact that some skills open up more possibilities than other skills.

For example, learning a language is what I would call a “generative skill”–the type of skill that opens up many possibilities. Read More

Thinking about Words #1 – Financial Security

Today I was thinking about financial security and recognized that somehow I felt a little uncomfortable with the term. This surprised me because logically it makes a lot of sense to me and obviously everyone can benefit from financial security in all kinds of ways.

However, every time I said ‘financial security’ to myself, I felt a slight twinge of stress in my shoulders and over the years I have learned that this kind of message from our somatic mind, or body or unconscious or whatever you want to call it, is generally worth listening to.

So I started playing with some metaphors and images in my mind and the word ‘security’ immediately brought up the image of a castle protected by a moat, a great gate and knights patrolling. The archers are always ready to launch a long-distance volley of deadly arrows on anyone approaching who looks dangerous. Inside, the king of the castle and the land, is living in ‘security’, protected by the water and walls and strong men. Read More

Upcoming Music Events

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On Sunday, we have the next music rehearsal for the Jukebox Paradise musical. It is still about 5 months until showtime, and it is great to see people really getting into their roles both as actors and singers. This is going to be a great show.

Coindrop62_April24In other music news, the band for the Jukebox Paradise musical, Coindrop62, will be playing at Shooters in Fushimi this Sunday evening (April 24th) from 8pm. We will do some a bunch of fun rock and roll tunes. I am not playing any instrument for a change, so I can focus on my role as the singer for a change! Visit the Facebook event page.

On the following Saturday (April 30th), Sarah Mulvey and I will be joined by the formidable duo, Aya Kawakami and Takashi Terada, for a show at Coat of Arms in Marunochi. It’s going to be a great night. You can check out the details on the Facebook event page.

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As some people have pointed out, I haven’t been playing much Irish music recently. I’ll get back to it (it is my roots after all!), so in the meantime check out one of the CDs from my old band, The Rising Pints.

 

Toyota International Association – Introducing Ireland

IMG_20160417_125923Yesterday, I did an introduction to Ireland event at Toyota International Association. I’ve been doing this kind of event for over 20 years now and it is still fun to share some information and some music about Ireland. Over the years, I’ve probably presented this kind of material to a few thousand people, and hopefully at least some of them have made it to the shores of the Emerald Isle. Read More

What do we mean by ‘thinking’?

Currently I’m working on a textbook called Tools for Thinking. It’s based on a series of activities that I’ve been using with my third year Japanese university students for the last few years. As well as being a language skills textbook, it also aims to provide practice in a range of critical thinking skills which can be applied to real-world personal and professional situations. Read More

GOAL Textbook – 2nd Edition

Last year, I wrote a textbook with Ben Backwell called GOAL – Identify and Achieve Your Life Goals. We have been very happy with the feedback from teachers and students. However, as a tool for learning English, we felt that the book could be improved. So we have been hard at work.

And now after several months of rewriting, we are proud to present the 2nd edition of GOAL.

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Tao Te Ching

That which is incomplete will be made complete,
that which is crooked will straighten,
that which is empty will be filled,
that which is worn out will be renewed.
He who has little can only gain, but gain too much and the way will be lost.

Recently, I’ve been reading a chapter of Tao Te Ching each morning. Fascinating little book and once in a while a section really jumps out at me. The section above is one of those. Taoism recognizes that balance exists in everything and the lines above give some good examples.

 

 

To Do lists and Productivity

For years, probably about 12 years now, I have been a big fan of Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. When I read the original book, I was impressed by the idea of getting every thing out of my head and into a space where it could be stored and dealt with appropriately. Between music and research and teaching and training and client work, I tend to have way too much stuff going on any particular time and GTD has been enormously helpful to me in getting that stuff out of my head yet still knowing that it is available and going to be eventually acted upon. Read More

Less training in 2016

In 2016, I’ll be doing less NLP and hypnosis training. 2015 was a great year where we completed the full NLP 20 day practitioner certification course. From 2017, we will be doing more training again, but for 2016, I’ll be focusing on research to complete several books that are in the pipeline. It’s also the year of Jukebox Paradise, a musical that has been in my head for over 20 years and that will finally be staged in November 2016. Looking forward to a great year and then getting back to more training in 2017.

Starting 2016 with Music

Sarah and I did our first gig of 2016 last night at Coat of Arms. January is always a quiet month as people hunker down in their dens to avoid the cold weather, and of course to try to rescue their finances and health after Christmas and the new year celebrations! So, thanks to all the folks who came out last night and made it such a fun night for us.

We have been practicing some new songs and polishing up some old versions with more harmony and fun guitar stuff. For the last few years, I’ve been primarily using DADGAD as my guitar tuning. Recently, I’ve been experimenting a bit more with open G and other strange combinations. Great sound on my old trusty Lowden guitar.

We are playing tonight with the Tomo Shagger band at Shooters, Fushimi. Then next Friday, we are heading up to Tokyo to play at the opening of an art exhibition.

And on Sunday, rehearsals are going to finally begin for Jukebox Paradise. We have a marvellous cast assembled and it’s going to be great working with everyone to produce a wonderful musical in November.

Change in website name

Happy new year to all. I hope that 2016 will be a great year for everyone. As usual, the beginning of the year provides a useful milestone to set goals or to decide what you want more of or less of in your life.

One of the things that I want more of in my life is simplicity, so I have decided to simplify some of my websites.

Since 2010, I have been providing my NLP & Hypnosis training under the name of Standing in Spirit. It is still a fine name with strong personal associations for myself. However, it has proven to be a little difficult for many Japanese people to remember. So for the sake of simplicity, I’ll be providing my training under the rather more transparent name of “Brian Cullen Training.”

Exploring L2 Creativity book

I finally got around to publishing my PhD thesis as an e-book in the Amazon store. You can purchase a copy here. Considering that it took 6 years to write, the price of about $9 seems fairly cheap. And it is a surprisingly good read.

The topic of research is non-native-speakers songwriters who are writing in English and the 450 pages of the thesis examine this fun and complex process in lots of different ways.

Don’t expect Dan Brown, but as academic research goes, this is probably one of the most readable tomes that you will ever come across. Read More

Music at JALT 2015

12274505_10153646297700631_907389530697514805_nSarah and I played at the Best of JALT event again this year. It was lovely to be back at the conference again and to see so many familiar faces. For those who don’t know, JALT stands for Japan Association for Language Teaching, and I have played music at various events there since about 1995. Wow, 20 years!

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