Retreat Classes

 

 

About Our Classes

Student Ages
Instruction is available for adult students and invited youth. To learn the requirements for permitting a student under age 18 to attend the retreat, contact the retreat director at director@oflahertyretreat.org.

singingClass Levels
Classes are intended for players with the basic skills required to play their instruments. We regret that due to the short duration of the retreat, it is not practical to offer instruction for novice students who have never played their instruments. All of our non-instrument classes and workshops are open to all levels. Here are the class levels provided at the retreat: "Fundamentals" classes are for those students who know how to play their instruments at a beginning level and will learn the fundamentals of playing Irish music. These classes are not designed for players just starting to learn their instruments, but rather, students who are familiar enough with their instruments that they are already playing some melodies on them or, in the case of rhythm instruments, familiar with basic chording. A knowledge of Irish music is not necessary. Other classes designated “Intermediate & Advanced” are for those students who are considered past beginner skills and are able to play tunes by ear with good technique and at a reasonable speed or know how to accompany tunes on their rhythm instruments. A knowledge of Irish music is helpful.  Please refer to requirements for the "Intermediate & Advanced" levels, if any, for classes before enrolling. When there are sufficient numbers of students for a particular instrument like fiddle, we are able to offer "Intermediate" classes. The "Advanced" classes are for students who have video auditioned for the classes and play at a high level of ability and learn by ear easily. All remaining classes are open to "All Levels" meaning there is only one track offered on that particular instrument or study area. 

Class Progressions (Please Note)
Classes are progressive from one to the next if the class title includes a number that increases with each offering (e.g., Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, etc.) On the other hand, informances and specific non-instrument classes (e.g., Music Theory and Learning by Ear) include the same content each time they are offered. IMPORTANT: Please attend only those classes that you have enrolled. If you would like to transfer to a different class, come to the retreat check-in area in the Chapel. Some classes may be full and can not accept additional students.

Notated Music
It is up to the instructors whether or not written music is supplied to their students before, during or after their classes. Some instructors teach only by ear. We provide tunebooks and retreat tune sheets only for purposes of reminding students of the melodies. We prefer that you listen to our instructional CDs to hear how the music is played because it is impossible to notate Irish music correctly.

Informances
Some instructors will give 60-minute "informances" during the retreat . This will be a time when an instructor can perform, demonstrate, and discuss Irish music based on his or her personal experiences. The instructors may or may not invite students to play their instruments during this class. If time permits, the instructors will take questions.

Enrichment Classes
Each day of the retreat, a number of our instructors will offer "enrichment classes" that are designed to help provide context for the music that is learned at the retreat. The classes may present historical perspectives, actual life experiences or in-depth studies of the origins of styles, methods, tunes, etc. These are wonderful opportunities to learn more about Irish music.

Workshops
In addition to the regular classes and enrichment classes, there are some topics that will be covered in workshops. These instructional classes will be taught by specialists who have expertise and knowledge about the subjects they will present. The options are many and cover areas ranging from developing music learning skills to learning Ceili dancing.

Instruments Played in Classes (Please Note)
In classes where Irish music is being taught on specific instruments, students must use only those instruments in those classes. Examples:  Five-stringed banjos would not be appropriate for the tenor banjo classes; cellos not appropriate for the fiddle classes; piano accordions not appropriate for the button accordion classes, etc. If you don't have the right instrument for a given class, you may audit the class but please don't bring any instruments that aren't required for it.

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Class Descriptions

Anglo Concertina, Bodhran, Bouzouki, Button Accordion, Dancing, Fiddle, Flute, Guitar, Harp, Mandolin, Piano Accordion, Singing, Tenor Banjo, Uilleann Pipes, Whistle

Anglo Concertina (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Jack Talty
This class is best suited for students who already play the Anglo concertina and are skilled enough to play common Irish traditional tunes (jigs, reels, polkas, hornpipes, etc.) to a reasonable standard and tempo. The course will center on best fingering styles, rhythm and musicality. As the course progresses, emphasis will be placed on the development of style through chord use, addition of ornamentation and the expansion of a musical repertoire. It is recommended that you bring a recording device. Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

BODHRAN
Bodhran (Fundamentals) -- Rick Holt
session2This class will introduce the rudiments of Irish music as applied to the bodhran. Class discussions will include such topics as session etiquette, care and feeding of the bodhran, rim shots, top end and kerry styles and basic left-hand techniques to adjust the tone. The class will also include an overview of the principal dance tune forms including jigs (double and slip), reels, hornpipes, polkas, slides, etc. Emphasis will be placed on variations of rhythm and style and using both hands to support and "play" the melody along with melody instruments.

Bodhran (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Rob Forkner
The class will begin by reviewing basic techniques briefly, and then move on to ways to further enhance tune accompaniment with ornamentation, tonal variation, and developing both space and energetic tension between melody and rhythm in the music. Also, students will learn how to break out of ruts and patterns that get ingrained in all of us. The class will explore elements of tune accompaniment, session playing, and modern style bodhrán playing according to the wishes of the class.  Instructor will provide both written notation and a time at the end of class for students to take short videos or audio recordings of the material we covered that day. The goal of the class is to help students become versatile, creative, and sensitive players who are able to accompany tastefully in whatever style they choose, and students are strongly encouraged to bring questions, ideas, favorite recordings, and topics of discussion to class. Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

BOUZOUKI
Bouzouki (All Levels) -- Brian Miller
The bouzouki class will cover techniques of tune accompaniment, song accompaniment and melody playing. We will explore chord shapes, strumming patterns, basic counter-melody and a versatile method for choosing what chords to play and how to add interest. We will also discuss tunings, capo use, and choosing an instrument. 

BUTTON ACCORDION
Button Accordion (All Levels) -- Máirtín O'Connor
This class will explore the button accordion played in the Irish style. The focus will be on maneuvering over the keyboard, bellows control, fingering, ornamentation, phrasing, dynamics, chording, etc.  

DANCING
Set Dancing (All Levels) -- Máirtín de Cógáin
Anywhere in the world today, if you're looking for Irish social dancing and traditional music, set dancing stands out as the most popular style.  You may see some ceili dancing and two-hand dances at a ceili but the majority will be sets of eight people whirling and gliding around the floor in mesmerizing patterns.  Maldon Meehan's class will be tailored to the participants and will feature dances from different areas of Ireland set to polkas, jigs and reels as time permits.

FIDDLE
Fiddle (Fundamentals) -- Niamh Fahy
This class is intended for fiddlers who are already familiar with their instruments and comfortable playing tunes. It is not a class for students new to the fiddle, but rather, those who may be new to Irish music or want to become more proficient in the fundamentals of Irish fiddling. The class will focus on holding the fiddle and bow, playing in tune, controlling the bow and keeping the rhythm steady and taking technique to the next level. The class will also cover how to learn tunes by ear, the specifics of the Irish style (bow speed and ornamentation), and students will learn several tunes of various types.

Fiddle (Intermediate) -- Yvonne Casey, Niamh Ní Charra OR Liam O'Connor
This class is intended for fiddlers who have familiarity with Irish style fiddle playing and are at an intermediate level of ability. Students will learn Irish fiddle technique including ornamentation (rolls, grace notes and bowed triplets), tone, rhythm and the more common bowing patterns used in Irish style playing. Because of class limits, you are required to take all of your fiddle classes with the teacher whose classes you initially enrolled. Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

Fiddle (Advanced by Invitation Only) -- Brian Conway
This class is intended for fiddlers who have significant familiarity with Irish style fiddle playing and are at an advanced level of ability.

 Students and teacher will discuss regional styles and take a close look at the fiddling techniques of some Irish fiddlers who represent their particular regional styles, e.g., Kerry, Clare and Donegal. The class will examine each player in detail, discuss their use of ornaments, bowing, melodic variation, and how they bring expression to a tune. Students for this class must submit audition videos showing them performing one jig and one reel played twice through. Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

FLUTE
Flute & Whistle (Fundamentals) -- Nolan Ladewski
At the beginning level, we combine tinwhistle and flute because of the similarity in fingering and ornamenation. Bring a "D" pitched whistle and/or wood or metal flute. Students will learn easy tunes using basic fingering and ornamentation.

Flute (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Aoife Granville
This class is for students who are skilled enough to play tunes in a variety of rhythms (jigs, reels, etc.), with good technique and at a reasonable tempo and are at an intermediate or advanced level of ability. This course will expand on the skills and topics introduced in the beginners class, with more attention given to ornamentation, breathing, style and repertoire, while continuing to emphasize rhythm and phrasing in the music. Tunes will be taught using a D flute. Please bring a recording device. Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

GUITAR
Dropped-D Guitar (All Levels) -- Seamie O'Dowd
In this class, students will learn to accompany Irish traditional music on guitar using the dropped-D tuning. The class will explore a variety of types of tunes, dynamics through syncopation and emphasis, chord substitutions and common progressions. Students should be comfortable with basic strumming. Melodies will be provided by Chris Buckley.

HARP
Harp (All Levels) -- Aislinn Gagliardi
In these workshops, we will learn a variety of Irish dance tunes, as well as a slow air if time allows. The workshops will include learning different ways of approaching both ornamentation and accompaniment for the music covered. The music will be taught by ear, and you may use an audio recording device. No video recording by students permitted. Sheet music may be provided by the instructor as a tool for some of the tunes learned. This class is for all levels - everyone from beginners (with some harp experience) to professionals are welcome to join us!

MANDOLIN
Mandolin & Tenor Banjo (Fundamentals) -- Pete Strickler
These classes for mandolin and tenor banjo do not focus on the learning of tunes. Rather, they teach the stylistic elements of playing melodies (not chords) in Irish traditional style and the techniques to produce them, plus how and when to incorporate them into the "tune book" version of any given tune. The idea is that the student comes away with a box of tools that they can apply to all the tunes they already know and the tunes they have yet to learn, to produce a traditional Irish sound. The classes also feature how to get the best tone and volume from the instrument while avoiding painful problems, by holding and fingering the instrument and pick in the best manner. The classes apply equally to tenor banjo, mandolin, tenor guitar and octave mandolins and the similarities and differences of approach are included.

Mandolin (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Marla Fibish
This class will focus on getting the feel, pulse and flow of Irish music into your mandolin playing. We'll work on both right and left hand techniques to develop the distinctive rhythmic forms that deliver the pulse of the music.  Building on those key basics, we’ll focus on musicality — we’ll look at phrasing and ornamentation, as well as using dynamics and variation, applying the unique qualities of the mandolin to Irish music, respecting the core of the tradition on this ‘newcomer’ of an instrument. We’ll learn tunes together (by ear) and explore different ways to give those tunes life and lift, applying the concepts and techniques that we learn in class. We’ll also look at tunes you already know, but feel ‘stuck’ on, perhaps unable to take them beyond the way you learned them, and try to push open a few doors for you to take your playing to the next level.  Bring a recording device!  Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

PIANO ACCORDION
Piano Accordion (All Levels) – Annmarie Acosta
This class will explore piano accordion technique as applied to traditional Irish music. The various dance rhythms will be explored as well as fingering technique and ornamentation (triplets, grace notes).  Chording and counter melody tips will also be covered. 

SINGING
Singing (All Levels) -- Éilís Kennedy
The  gaelic translation of "sing a song" is "Abair Amhrán" ... literally "tell" a song. The incredible story of Ireland is written in song, and this class will help students explore the importance of song in the Irish music tradition. There are no prerequisites, and if you simply want to sing in private or public, then this class is for you. A variety of songs both in English and Gaelic will be covered. Gaelic phonetic pronunciation will be provided. The aim of the class is to develop enough confidence to feel comfortable singing with others and performing solo. It is a good idea to bring a recording device to help memorize melody. This is a progressive class so it’s best to attend the full series. 

banjo classTENOR BANJO
Tenor Banjo & Mandolin (Fundamentals) -- Pete Strickler
The Fundamentals class for tenor banjo and mandolin will focus on building your toolbox of techniques for playing melody, including pick grip, instrument and hand positioning, picking patterns, triplets, double stops, left hand ornaments, and the differing tune rhythms.  Once you've built your toolbox, you can apply these techniques to tunes that you already know, and you may pick up a couple of new tunes in the process!  These classes will be appropriate for any of the family of plectrum instruments used for playing melody in Irish Traditional Music, including tenor banjo, mandolin, tenor guitar, octave mandolin, etc., and we will explore the similarities and differences between the use of these instruments.

Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Cathal Hayden
This class will be a general tenor banjo class (4-string tuned in Irish style - GDAE) and focused on plectrum techniques, ornamentation, chord enhancements and, most importantly, melodic variation. Students will also learn simplistic playing styles, rhythm and syncopation, and pick tricks. Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

UILLEAN PIPES
Uilleann Pipes (All Levels) -- Jerry O'Sullivan
These classes will examine what makes the uilleann pipes special. Why are they different from other woodwind instruments used in Irish music? How can the piper maximize the benefit? This class will expand and illustrate these concepts. The class will explore the techniques that make the sound of good piping so appealing. Students should bring, at a minimum, a practice set with a satisfactory playing chanter reed and a recording device.

WHISTLE
Whistle & Flute (Fundamentals) -- Nolan Ladewski
At the beginning level, we combine tinwhistle and flute because of the similarity in fingering and ornamentation. Bring a "D" pitched whistle and/or wood or metal flute. Students will learn easy tunes using basic fingering and ornamentation. We’ll also examine breathing and explore strategies for creating breathing places in tunes.

Whistle (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Kathleen Conneely
This class is for students who are skilled enough to play tunes in a variety of rhythms (jigs, reels, etc.), with good technique and at a reasonable tempo and are at an intermediate or advanced level of ability. This course will expand on the skills and topics introduced in the beginners class, with more attention given to ornamentation, breathing, style and repertoire, while continuing to emphasize rhythm and phrasing in the music. Tunes will be taught using a D whistle. Please bring a recording device. Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

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Enrichment Class Descriptions

Accompaniment -- Annmarie Acosta
This class will explore accompaniment as applied to traditional Irish Music.  Students will learn to provide accompaniment that will support and compliment the melody.  Chord building, chord progressions, voicing, harmonic and rhythmic variation will be covered.  All instruments are welcome.  All levels, no experience necessary.

Audio Production for Traditional Irish Music -- Jack Talty
This class will focus on the technical processes such as editing, recording, mixing, and mastering of traditional Irish music but also cover some of the creative decisions involved in ‘producing’ albums, especially as it applies to the ethos and rationale behind Jack's label Raelach Records.

Dissecting the Irish Session -- Pete Strickler
The fundamental core of Irish Traditional Music in the 21st Century is found in the Irish Session.  There are Sessions to be found all over the world, from Ireland to Iowa, Japan to Jerusalem…  So, what is an Irish Session?  How can I find one?  What if there aren’t any Sessions near me?  What tunes will they play?  And how do I fit in to all this?  These are some of the topics that we will discuss as we explore what makes the Irish Session so widespread and integral to our tradition.

Fiddle Masterclass -- Séamus Connolly
A number of fiddle students will be selected in advance to participate in a “Masterclass” with legendary fiddle player Séamus Connolly.  During the class, Séamus will examine the students’ performance of Irish melodies and provide constructive criticism to help them improve their playing.  While the class will focus on the selected fiddle students, the class is open to all students who will likely benefit from hearing Seamus’ comments regardless of the instruments they play.

From Cork with Love: A Musical Travelogue -- Máirtín de Cógáin
The Máirtín de Cógáin Project’s album "From Cork with Love" is filled with songs, stories and tunes about the Cork of my youth.  These always bring me back home to the Rebel County on Ireland’s south coast by recalling its many sights, like Cork City’s bustling small back streets, the pastoral boreens of the countryside, the River Lee’s romantic allure, the Coal Quay and Grand Parade’s rustic beauty, and even the majestic castles of my ancestors in Carrigaline itself – it’s all there.  This DVD, an hour long music travelogue, uses these songs, stories and tunes to guide you through Cork and her many charms, and will show you my home the way I grew up knowing it.  I invite you to come along and enjoy the journey, from Cork with love.This concept has made for a great production and gaining critical acclaim for it’s ground-breaking style of mixing music with travel.  Working with director-cameraman Paschal Cassidy of Dublin-based Red Shoe Productions (Imeall & Ceol ar an Imeall, TG4) who has keen insight into music through his videography for over ​20​ years on the Fleadh Cheoil programs and Geantraí was a perfect partner for this project. Some of Cork’s finest folk and traditional stars are featured including John Spillane, Jimmy Crowley ‘the Voice of Cork’, Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly, as well as Máirtín’s own father, Barry, demonstrating on how to make a proper cup of tea and giving an insight into our own ancestral Cogan’s Castle.

From Sheet Music to Learning by Ear - Making the Transition -- Aislinn Gagliardi
Irish music is an aural tradition, and it can be hard to bring a tune to life from sheet music, or trust our ears in learning a new tune by ear. Through instructor examples, students will learn simple tips in developing their listening skills. From the first to last note, learn how to discern keys, tune types and more so that the next time you go to a session (perhaps a session at the retreat!) you feel confident in picking out a new tune on the fly. This workshop is hands-on, so bring your instrument and an audio recording device (no video recording by students permitted)! Part or all of a tune might be learned as time allows. Open to all instruments and levels, and students should have a basic knowledge of msuic theory.

Getting Under Your Skin: an Overview of Bodhran Making.-- Rob Forkner
Rob will give an overview of the methods and techniques that go into building modern bodhrans.  The presentation will cover a brief history of older versus more modern construction techniques, including shell making, an overview of different tensioning systems, and on to skin preparation and selection.  Students will have a chance to see the materials that go into building a bodhran as well as drums in different stages of completion. 

Interpreting Slow Airs -- Aoife Granville
This class will explore the interpretation of Irish airs and how to perform them convincingly. The class will look at the connection of the airs to their respective songs and will include some participation for attendees (singing and playing). A song and air will be quickly taught by ear to demonstrate how learning the song informs the playing of the air. Phrasing and movement of the airs will be also be discussed. 

Irish Influenced Lumber Camp Folk Songs of the Great Lakes -- Brian Miller  
Through the 1800s, a distinct tradition of singing developed in the pine woods of Atlantic Canada, Maine and the Ottawa Valley that spread westward across the Great Lakes. Men supplemented summer work on farms and sailing ships with winters in logging camps where they sang to pass the evening hours in the bunkhouses. The rich repertoires possessed by the many immigrant Irishmen in the early camps had a defining influence on this evolving musical style. Over time, those born into tight-knit logging communities in the east carried songs westward as the industry cut its way toward the edge of the prairie. Songs imported from Ireland persisted alongside new songs that told of life in the north woods. Brian Miller explains the historical context of the north woods song tradition and delves into the fascinating lives of some of the singers from that era, illustrating the talk with songs from the archives.

Irish Songs for Children -- Éilís Kennedy
Apart from  being a useful tool in Gaelic pronunciation and  rhythm, learning and subsequently teaching children's songs is an enriching experience. Many of these songs are related to rural and marine domestic chores and activities of latter days - spinning, weaving, milking, fishing, rowing and following the patterns of the year in nature. Some are recognizable tunes which are played commonly in the Irish instrumental tradition. Éilís' parents and grandparents have left her with a collection of Irish language songbooks specifically aimed at  children and she will share with  students. They are written in old Gaelic script with notation. 

Learning Irish Language Basics -- Aoife Granville
For musicians who love Irish traditional music but are fearful of mispronouncing the Gaelic names of people and places associated with the music, this class will increase your confidence when uttering the words.  Don’t expect to be speaking Irish fluently, but at least you’ll get a better understanding of the basics of Irish pronunciations and some useful phrases.

Mná an Cheoil - 100 Years of Women in Irish Music -- Niamh Ní Charra
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Irish women gaining the right to vote, and as Ireland observes a year-long commemoration of that momentous event, it also shines a much needed light on the contributions of women in advancing the Irish music tradition. This talk looks back at 100 years of women in Irish music and focuses on those, both known and forgotten, who have shaped the musical tradition we celebrate today. It will also look at the circumstances and social practices that led some to be discovered while others remained known only to those lucky enough to come into contact with them.

The Music of Mayo -- Jerry O'Sullivan
This class will explore the contribution to the music of County Mayo by fiddler Johnny Henry (1922-1996) and box players Alan Morrisroe and Paddy Joe Tighe.

The P.W. Joyce Music Collections -- Liam O'Connor
This presentation will provide an overview of the music collections of P.W. Joyce (1827-1914) initiated during the mid-19th century and will also highlight their availability as an online 21st century learning resource.

Regional Whistle Styles Of Ireland -- Kathleen Conneely
Kathleen will explore the differences in the regional music styles of Ireland and listen to recordings of various whistle players to show examples of this.

Séamus Connolly Collection – A Tribute -- Séamus Connolly
The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music reflects more than 14 years of collecting and organizing by master fiddle player Séamus Connolly, who began his tenure at Boston College in 1990 and was Sullivan Artist in Residence in Irish Music from 2004 to 2015.  The collection links three generations of musicians and pays tribute to those in previous generations who kept the tradition alive. More than 130 contemporary musicians participated in this project by recording tracks. Originally conceived as a set of ten CDs and accompanying book, a collaboration with the Boston College Libraries led to the creation of a digital collection allowing for wider outreach, enhanced user engagement, and greater preservation opportunities, while the option of accessing the musical content in ten playlists respects the early organization.  The collection consists of over 330 traditional tunes and songs, including both old recordings and contemporary performances, rare tunes and new compositions. Séamus will discuss his work on this important project and share some of the music and people it honors.

Who Doesn’t Need More Slip Jigs? -- Marla Fibish
We’ll do a slip jig swap, or if folks don’t have ones they want to share, Marla will play/demo/teach a bunch.


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Informances -- Brian Conway, Cathal Hayden, Máirtín O'Connor, Seamie O'Dowd

These instructors will give 60-minute "informances" at which time they will perform, demonstrate, and discuss Irish music or dance based on his or her personal experiences. The instructors may or may not invite students to participate during this class. If time permits, the instructors will take questions.

 

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Workshop Descriptions

Arranging Traditional Irish Songs 101 -- Diehl Moran and Matthew Lewis
Arranging Traditional Irish songs can sometimes be a daunting task. How does one create arrangements that are exciting and interesting but still keep a traditional sound that doesn’t detract from the singer? Diehl Moran and Matthew Lewis will break down in detail their approach of arranging Traditional Irish songs. The class is suitable for rhythm/chord backers, melody players and singers alike. They will demonstrate how the melodic and chord choices interact to create the proper mood and feel of particular songs. The tips and tricks presented in this class can be applied to the songs sung at your local session or in a more formal setting.

Bodhran Friendly Session -- Rick Holt
Yes, you read it right. We take session etiquette and toss it out the window (just for today). Bodhran players are invited to gather together with a few well-miked melody players for a session without the normal constraints of multiple bodhrans at a session. This is your chance to enjoy 90 minutes of solid drumming, whether it is your main instrument or not come join us. Musicians of all flavors and levels are welcome as well for yet another chance to get in some session time during the retreat. All types of tunes will be played and Rick will available for guidance and assistance when needed.

Ceili Dance Workshops -- Emily Furillo
Whether you are completely new to Irish social dancing or you're one who never passes up an opportunity to dance, these workshops are for you.  Experience how Irish tunes and dances fit together like a match made in heaven.  Do you need to energize for your next music class?  Come learn a set dance or two!  With this under your belt you'll be ready to join in the big Saturday night ceili.

Focus Your Tune Practice -- Tom Lockney & Ian Varley

You know the saying “practice makes perfect”? Hogwash! Practice makes *permanent*, not perfect. and if you’re not practicing in the right way, you’ll never get any better. In this workshop, Tom Lockney and Ian Varley will introduce you to the fundamentals of proper music practice for Irish music, drawing from the latest research on memory, concentration, and learning. You’ll come away with concrete techniques for getting the most out of your practice time, and leveling up your playing, no matter what your instrument.

Instrument Petting Zoo -- John Liestman
Of all the O'Flaherty instruments, about the one ones you can find in music stores are fiddles and guitars. If you have ever thought that someday you might want to take up the pipes or the harp or the box or whatever, this is for you. Come to the Petting Zoo where skilled and friendly musicians will let you try out all the classic Irish traditional instruments and give you your first mini-lesson for free. Cuddle a concertina, befriend a button accordion, pet the pipes, flirt with a flute, beat a bodhran, wield a whistle, brandish a bouzouki, and hug a harp today! This is your best opportunity to see what it feels like to play these things and get first hand advice on how to get started. The workshop will be run concurrently and in the same general space as the Mandolin and Banjo Tasting workshop.

Irish Tunes on Harmonica -- Paul Dryer
Harmonica has a long history in traditional Irish music. Though not as common in session play as other traditional instruments, harmonica is gaining in popularity.   Like the penny whistle, harmonicas are generally inexpensive and a pure joy to play!  This workshop will introduce you to  the various types of instruments, and how to get started.  Jig, reel, polka and waltz playing styles will be demonstrated along with ornamentation techniques.  Feel free to bring your harmonica -- keys of D and G are suggested. Also, a session just for harmonica players will be held at a separate time.

Methods to Ease the Pains of Irish Music -- Heather Carmichael
This is a workshop teaching various methods of self-massage to help ease the pain that can happen when playing your instrument. Using different modalities of massage, such as stretching, trigger point, hydrotherapy, and lymphatic drainage, Heather will guide you through creating a self-care plan that can help you play pain-free.”

O'Carolan Tunes Played Slowly -- Therese Honey
For those who love the music of Turlough O'Carolan, harpist of the mid-1600s and one of the most recognized composers of Irish music, this is a workshop just for you. Therese Honey will choose a number of O'Carolan compositions and lead them in a slow pace to permit players to learn them by ear or just enjoy them for the exceptional piecesof music they are.

Reed Making for Uilleann Pipes -- Dirk Mewes
The reed-making workshop will include a short hour demonstration of constructing an uilleann pipe concert-pitch chanter reed in the style that I was taught by Cillian O'Briain.  Then, we should have time for discussions, questions, and some hands-on learning in the workshop. During the weekend, I will also be available to discuss various aspects of reed-making, and to answer any questions I can about my experiences with reeds.  For students who need tools for reed making, contact me before class starts at dirk.w.mewes@gmail.com, and I will assist you with obtaining some of the tools that are harder to find, such as the in cannel gouge, used for the initial shaping of the cane for the reed.

Retreat Tunes Played Slowly -- John Liestman and Kenny Tweedy
Each year, a number of tunes are designated as "Retreat Tunes" and published in advance of the retreat. Two times during the weekend, an instructor will lead students in the playing of these tunes at a slower tempo. For a listing of the tunes and music notation, go to TUNES(TBD).

Sean-nós Dance Workshop -- Emily Furillo
Traditional Irish sean-nós dance is a percussive dance that utilizes low-to-the-floor footwork, rhythmic styles, and a relaxed upper body to engage with the music. In this workshop we will explore basic steps, musicality and improvisation as dance relates to Irish tunes. All are welcome to join this introductory class. Please wear shoes with a smooth, hard leather sole.

Singers' Voice Lab -- Melinda Standefer
This class will explore the basics of the structure of singing, as well as how to establish a healthy practice routine. Vocal exercises will be covered to extend range and agility, stabilize vibrato and develop breath control. Elements of performance ranging from a formal concert to an informal session will be discussed.

So Many Tunes...Where Should I Start? -- Clare Cason
With at least 10,000 Irish tunes in existence, it's hard to know where to focus our tune-learning, especially if we are relatively new to the music. In this class we'll talk about tunes that are known around the world, that would provide a common language in most any session... and resources for finding these tunes. We might even have time to learn/play a few of them.  Then we'll discuss techniques for picking up additional tunes that may be particular to your local session. So if you'd like some help knowing where to focus your practice,  join us and bring your instrument!

Steps for Sets -- Máirtín de Cógáin
Open to everyone at the retreat, Friday night offers the chance to learn polka, jig and reel steps for set dances and even share your own.  You won't want to miss this evening with Set Dancing Master Maldon Meehan!

TRAD TALK with Séamus Connolly -- Ken Fleming
Each year, the Tradtional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) recognizes a prominent musician who has advanced the learning and performing of tradtional Irish music in the United States. In addition to an award that features a painting of the recipient by artist Ron Foster, the director of the retreat Ken Fleming will lead a question and answer session on Sunday afternoon with the recipient that is open to all participants. We are pleased that Séamus Connolly will be this year's recipient of the award.

Tune Swap -- Judson Heartsill
Students who attend O'Flaherty's come from all over and even outside of the U.S. At sessions they attend, there are tunes that are often played. Not surprisingly, the list of core tunes differ for each session, but what's certain, the tunes are worth learning. Bring to this workshop some of your session favorites. Please avoid tunes that are uncommon, outside of the Irish tradition or difficult to play. The goal is for the attendees to share and learn new tunes. Be sure and bring your recording device.

Understanding Traditional Irish Music Theory -- Ian Varley
Traditional Irish music is a living, oral tradition, passed down over generations. Pulling out sheet music at a session is a party foul, and many of the greatest players proudly can’t read a lick of music. So why would you care about music theory? Because it turns out that if you internalize the basic building blocks of music at the theoretical level, it dramatically increases your ability to learn, retain, and appreciate the music. In this workshop, Ian will take you through an introduction to music theory like you’ve never seen it, tailored to the concepts that are most important to trad players. If you’ve been turned off by music notation or theory in the past, you’ll find something new and approachable in this class, and you’ll begin to hear and play the music with a whole new dimension. 

Youth Education and Engagement in Irish Music Roundtable -- Erica Braverman
Are you a traditional music or dance teacher who works with young learners? Are you the parent of a young musician or are you a young musician yourself? Are you interested in learning more about how to involve children and teenagers in Irish music and dance? Please join us for a panel discussion where we can all ask questions, connect with other educators and learn about teaching and community building strategies to help keep our young learners engaged! Topics of discussion might include kid-friendly sessions, session building in your learning community, historical and contemporary learning environments, program evaluation and strategies that you can use to bolster student engagement in your program.


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sessionOrganized Sessions

Playing Tunes with... -- Annmarie Acosta, Yvonne Casey, Niamh Fahy, Nolan Ladewski, Pete Strickler
Each day at the retreat between 3:45-5:15 p.m., some of our instructors will lead group sessions. These sessions are designed to play tunes decided by the instructors, and if you know them, please join in.

Slow Sessions -- John Liestman, Kenny Tweedy
These sessions are held after the instructor concerts each evening and are designed to play tunes at a very slow tempo for an extended time to allow players to learn tunes that are unfamiliar or practice tunes that are known. The names of the tunes should be announced before the tunes begin. It is also preferrred that the tunes be known by the session leaders or other students attending. No solos please. Informal sessions are encouraged on the other nights in rooms that are assigned.

Intermediate Sessions -- Michelle Feldman, Gordon McLeod, Diehl Moran, Ian Varley
These sessions are held after the instructors concerts each evening and are designed to play tunes that the attending players know at a moderate tempo. It is preferrred that the tunes be known by at least a handful of the players. No solos please. Informal sessions are encouraged on the other nights in rooms that are assigned.

Advanced Sessions -- Judson Heartsill, Linda Relph
These sessions are held after the instructors concerts each evening and are designed to play tunes that the attending players know at dance tempo. It is preferrred that the tunes be known by at least a handful of the players. No solos please. Informal sessions are encouraged on the other nights in rooms that are assigned.

Song Sessions -- Matt Cook, Robert Shaddox
These sessions are designed for singers. You are encouraged to bring lyrics and sheet music and share your favorite songs with the group.

Bodhran Friendly Session -- Rick Holt
Yes, you read it right. We take session etiquette and toss it out the window (just for today). Bodhran players are invited to gather together with a few well-miked melody players for a session without the normal constraints of multiple bodhrans at a session. This is your chance to enjoy 90 minutes of solid drumming, whether it is your main instrument or not come join us. Musicians of all flavors and levels are welcome as well for yet another chance to get in some session time during the retreat. All types of tunes will be played and Rick will available for guidance and assistance when needed.

Harp Session -- Therese Honey
On Friday night, Therese Honey will lead a harp session. Come with your favorite tunes. Although not limited to harps, this will be a time to play melodies and accompany them too.

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Placement Guidelines for Intermediate & Advanced Anglo Concertina Classes

General:

1. Have you been playing traditional Irish music on Anglo concertina regularly (at least four hours per week) for at least two years?
2. Have you been playing the concertina for at least three years?
3. Are you comfortable performing up to speed an Irish tune solo?
4. Are you capable of learning traditional Irish concertina tunes by ear?

Repertoire:

1. Can you play from memory at least twenty traditional Irish tunes?

Technique:

1. Can you execute some of the basic forms of Irish concertina ornamentation in your playing ( i.e. grace notes, rolls, triplets)?
2. Can you play a scale of eighth notes in several keys using single bellow movements without problems with coordination between the right and left hands?
3. Are you comfortable playing on both sides of the concertina? On all three rows?
4. Are you comfortable using the air button during the playing of tunes?

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Placement Guidelines for Intermediate & Advanced Bodhran Classes

General:

1. Have you been playing traditional Irish music on bodhran regularly (at least four hours per week) for at least two years?
2. Have you been playing the bodhran for at least three years?
3. Are you comfortable performing jigs and reels at an appropriate performance tempo?
4. Do you regularly play the bodhran at a local session or with your own band?

Technique:

1. Can you manipulate the skin to produce open tones of various pitches, muted tones, slurs, and "pops" when performing on the bodhran?
2. Do you use double-down sticking patterns in your performance?
3. Do you have a good understanding of and/or use double-ended and/or single-ended ornamentation?

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Placement Guidelines for Intermediate Fiddle Classes

General:

1. Have you been playing traditional Irish fiddle music regularly (at least four hours per week) for at least two years?
2. Have you been playing the fiddle for at least three years?
3. Are you comfortable performing up to speed an Irish tune solo?
4. Are you capable of learning traditional Irish fiddle tunes by ear?

Repertoire:

1. Can you play from memory at least twenty traditional Irish tunes?

Technique:

1. Can you execute some of the basic forms of Irish fiddle ornamentation in your playing ( i.e. grace notes, rolls, bowed "triplets" or "trebles")?
2. Can you play a scale of eighth notes using single bows without problems with coordination between the bow and the left hand?
3. Are you comfortable playing on different strings without changing bow direction (i.e., slurring across strings)?
4. Are you comfortable using the fourth finger on the left hand?

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Placement Guidelines for Advanced Fiddle Classes

General:

1. Have you been playing traditional Irish fiddle music regularly (at least four hours per week) for at least four years?
2. Have you been playing the fiddle for at least six years?
3. Have you spent a substantial amount of time listening to Irish traditional music?
3. Are you comfortable performing up to speed an Irish tune solo?
4. Are you capable of picking up the basic melody of an unfamiliar polka when played at speed in a session?  Can you learn jigs and reels quickly, and play them at tempo shortly after learning the melody?
5. When a passage of a tune is played, can you repeat it back immediately?

Repertoire:

1. Can you play from memory at least fifty traditional Irish tunes?

Technique:

1. Do you regularly use all the basic forms of Irish fiddle ornamentation in your playing ( i.e. grace notes, rolls, bowed "triplets" or "trebles")?
2. Do you understand the basic rhythms and emphasis patterns of jigs and reels, and incorporate those into your playing?

PLEASE NOTE: To apply for the Advanced Fiddle classes, you must submit an audition video in which you play a jig and a reel at least twice through each. Send the video via email to director@oflahertyretreat.org. All videos will be forwarded to a committee of reviewers (not the instructor) who are respected instructors of traditional Irish music on the fiddle, and they will decide on these enrollment requests. Students will be notified of their status within one week of their submissions. If you have previously attended an advanced fiddle class at the retreat, you are not requried to submit the audition video.

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Placement Guidelines for Intermediate & Advanced Flute or Whistle Classes

General:

1. Have you been playing traditional Irish music on flute or whistle regularly (at least four hours per week) for at least two years?
2. Have you been playing the flute or whistle for at least three years?
3. Are you comfortable performing up to speed an Irish reel solo?
4. Are you capable of learning traditional Irish tunes by ear from a recording?

Repertoire:

1. Can you play from memory at least twenty traditional Irish tunes?

Technique:

1. Can you execute all of the basic forms of Irish fluteor whistle ornamentation in your playing, i.e. grace notes, rolls ( long and short), triplets, crans and trills?
2. Are you comfortable articulating notes without tonguing?
3. Are you comfortable playing in any octave with smooth control of air flow?

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Placement Guidelines for Intermediate & Advanced Mandolin or Tenor Banjo Classes

General:

1. Have you been playing traditional Irish music on mandolin or tenor banjo regularly (at least four hours per week) for at least two years?
2. Have you been playing the mandolin or tenor banjo for at least three years?
3. Are you comfortable performing up to speed an Irish tune solo?
4. Are you capable of learning traditional Irish tunes by ear?

Repertoire:

1. Can you play from memory at least twenty traditional Irish tunes?

Technique:

1. Can you execute some of the basic forms of Irish ornamentation in your playing ( i.e. grace notes, rolls, picked "triplets" or "trebles")?
2. Can you play a scale of eighth notes using single up and down strokes without problems with coordination between the left hand and right hands?
3. Are you comfortable playing between different strings?
4. Are you comfortable using the fourth finger on the left hand?
5. Are you playing jigs using the picking method of down,up,down,down,up,down?

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