I played my first wedding as a Solo Violinist when I was 17. At that stage, I was involved in my local Church Folk Group & Choir, St. Louis Secondary School Orchestra and Traditional Irish Group, completing my Classical & Theory Grades and part of the Orchestra in the Conservatory of Music & Drama and playing Traditional Irish and Folk Music in Achill Island, Mayo and Roscommon every summer. I was playing original music with local singer-song writers and teaching music at home in my Mam's sitting room as well as teaching some of my friends' siblings in their houses and playing sessions in my local pub in Kilmainham, where I also worked weekends.
When I was about 14, I realised why playing music for other people was so important. My Dad, Paddy Rogers (R.I.P) played the banjo and was always trying his best to pass on his love of country music to me. He did succeed eventually I must admit :-) He taught me tunes at home in the kitchen when I was very young. Once I could belt out a tune, the first Waltz I ever learned had to be the Marino Waltz (Remember the famous 'Bord na Mona' ad - and he hailed from the home of Bord na Mona itself, the Roscommon/Longford border!)
One particular night, we were playing a local session and I asked if anybody had any requests. An elderly man sitting at the bar, came over to me and asked if I knew 'The Coolin', which I replied 'yes of course', delighted as it was a tune I loved. Well, as I played the haunting Slow Air, everybody was listening intently and the elderly man looked really upset. Only afterwards, when everyone stopped clapping did he come over to me and give me a very heartfelt thanks, saying it was his wife's favourite tune, and he hadn't heard it played as beautifully since she passed away. Well, I can still actually remember as I write this, the emotion I felt, the tears in the man's eyes and how grateful I felt that my music could touch someone in a sincere way.
I am so grateful for everybody in my life who has helped to shape the musician and the person I am today. I have learned so much and have travelled all over the world, meeting people from all walks of life. The experiences music can bring, nobody can learn from books, but it is the great teachers and mentors we are lucky to meet along the way that makes it such a unique career path. Thank you to all my past teachers, fellow colleagues, students, parents, and the huge network of fantastic musicians who have become some of our best friends, and help keep the dream alive.
There we are now: