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.

Back to Top

 

Class Descriptions

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

ANGLO CONCERTINA
Anglo Concertina (Fundamentals) -- Brian Ó hAirt
This class will focus on building fundamental skills for concertina playing.  These basic skills include standard and alternate fingering systems for our most common scales, how to effectively use the bellows to create lift in the music, and basic ornaments like cuts, double stops, and octaves to lend sophistication to one's playing.  We'll internalize these skills by way of learning common dance tunes such as jigs, reels, hornpipes, and marches.  A portion of this class will be set aside for listening to examples of concertina music from around Ireland.  It is highly recommended that students bring a recording device, as music will be learned "by ear." 

Anglo Concertina (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Tony O'Connell
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) -- Cara Wildman
session2 This 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, 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 lead instruments.

Bodhran (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Albert Alfonso
The class will begin by reviewing basic techniques briefly, and then move on to ways to further enhance our jigs and reels with ornamentation, tonal variation, and syncopation, and also work on various approaches to other types of tunes including hornpipes, slip jigs, hop jigs, slides, and polkas. 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 “top end” 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) -- Alan Murray
The bouzouki class will cover techniques of both melody and accompaniment, focusing on right and left hand positions, posture, picking and strumming patterns, tone production, tunings, chords, capos, choosing an instrument, instrument care, etc.

BUTTON ACCORDION
Button Accordion (All Levels) -- Billy McComiskey
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) -- Maldon Meehan
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) -- Devin Shepherd
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) -- Randal Bays, Liz Carroll OR Brid Harper
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) -- James Kelly
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) -- James Hamilton
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) -- Steph Geremia
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
DADGAD Guitar (All Levels) -- Dáithí Sproule
In this class, students will learn to accompany Irish traditional music on guitar. 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. Assisting with instruction will be Jeff Moore. Melodies will be provided by Niamh Fahy.

HARP
Harp (All Levels) -- Marta Cook
Engage new techniques to develop or expand your approach to the harp in Irish music. Working from the perspective of a traditional musician who just happens to be a harp player, you will learn a variety of skills to apply to your repertoire. We'll focus on two major areas: your hands, through technique practice ‘hacks’ and fingering strategies that expand your precision, fluency, and tonal control at the harp; and your brain, via work with phrasing, rhythm, ornamentation, variation, and arranging. This combination will help you to translate inspiration from a variety of sources to your own playing. We'll apply this ability to a variety of music, including dance tunes, slow airs, and harp music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Depending on participant interests, we may cover additional topics, including accompaniment, session participation, music history, individual creativity, and how to learn by ear. Participants are encouraged to bring questions and topics of interest for discussion. Teaching will be done by ear.  Written music, as well as potential video and audio support, will be provided after the course. Students who own tablets or smartphones are encouraged to bring them to record their own progress via video. Recording devices are highly recommended.  This is an all levels class. Everyone from beginners (with some harp experience) to professionals are encouraged to join us! Rebekah Passmore has harps that may be rented to retreat students. Contact her at passmore.harp@gmail.com or call her at (214) 354-1137 for more information.

MANDOLIN
Mandolin & Tenor Banjo (Fundamentals) -- John Liestman
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) -- Mary Coogan
The rudiments of Irish music will be explored as applied to the mandolin. Tunes will be taught that illustrate the skills and techniques necessary to play traditional music on the instrument with specific emphasis on ornamentation, melodic variation, and rhythm. If time allows, tune/song accompaniment may be addressed. Players of octave mandolin and tenor guitar (tuned GDAE) are also welcome.  Before enrolling, please review the placement guidelines for this class.

SINGING
Singing (All Levels) -- Brendan Nolan
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 public or in sessions, then this class is for you. A variety of songs will be covered.  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) -- John Liestman
These classes for tenor banjo and mandolin 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.

Tenor Banjo (Intermediate & Advanced) -- Pauline Conneely
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) -- Mickey Dunne
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) -- James Hamilton
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) -- Shannon Heaton
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.

Back to Top


Enrichment Class Descriptions

Backing the Tunes -- Alan Murray
An open class for any accompanist looking to broaden their abilities to back tunes appropriately with emphasis on the differences between learning each tune specifically versus backing tunes "on the fly." 

Composing Tunes -- Liz Carroll
Learn how Liz writes tunes. She will explore what makes a good tune, and how she goes about composing her own.

Historic Recordings of Traditional Irish Music from the early 1900s -- James Kelly
James will present a collection of historic Irish music recordings from  the recent past back to the early 1900s. Each historic  recording will be played in its entirety, and pertinent  information will be given out as each piece is introduced. Included in this collection of music will be rare recordings of piper Patsy Touhey and fiddlers Edward Cronin, Patrick Kelly, Michael Coleman, John Doherty and Bobby Casey as well as other rare recordings. A question and  answer period will take place towards the end of this presentation.

Irish Music, Politics, and Labor in Chicago -- Marta Cook
September 1901: Francis O’Neill is both a collector of traditional music and the General Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Emma Goldman is an anarchist political activist and writer, arriving in Chicago to surrender herself for questioning after being accused of conspiring to assassinate President McKinley. What happened next is a fascinating story of high-stakes political maneuvering involving a colorful cast of characters, under the long shadow of the 1904 Presidential election. As events worthy of a thriller unfold, opportunities arise to explore the operations of power that affect Ireland, its culture(s,) and its diaspora(s.) By telling this story and others, this multimedia presentation will explore some of the unexpected but significant ways in which political and economic currents continually influence the course of traditional music history.  The presentation will be followed by a discussion. No instruments are required. Non-musicians are welcome. This presentation is based on unpublished original research. Recording will be at the presenter’s discretion. 

Irish Music Stories — Audio Excerpts and Live Musical Interludes from the new IMS Podcast -- Shannon Heaton
Irish Music Stories is the Podcast about traditional music and the bigger stories behind it. With pre-recorded interview clips from the show, commentary, and lives tunes and songs, Heaton takes listeners to kitchens, pubs, and dance halls where Irish music lives. Meet a band of Boston tweens who headed to the All Ireland Fleadh… go inside some of North America’s most esteemed Irish music pubs… take a journey back to Irish dance halls in the 1950s… and enjoy rich poems and stories about what Irish music means to people in the session circle and around the globe. 

The Legacy of the Travelling Pipers -- Mickey Dunne
Mickey Dunne will explore the lives and playing of the great travelling pipers of Ireland through music and video recordings.  From the times of Johnny and Felix Doran to the present melodies of John Rooney, Finbar Furey and Paddy Keenan, students will see and hear some of Ireland’s most interesting caretakers of the music.

The Otherworld in Irish Tradition -- Dáithí Sproule
The Otherworld has been a living presence in Irish tradition from the great texts of the Old Irish period right up to the stories of the Doherty family of fiddlers in Donegal who learnt tunes from the fairies. The stories themselves have charm and sometimes horror, but behind them Dáithí sees a coherent meaning and interpretation of the world which still has a truth to communicate to us and a common ground with other serious mystical traditions.

The Singing Traditions of Ireland -- Brian Ó hAirt
The diversity of its singing traditions gives ample proof that Ireland is an island of song.  From the florid sean-nós of the Irish speaking regions of the west to the gritty ballads of urban Dublin to the blending of Scottish and Irish traditions in northeastern Ulster--the songs of the people of Ireland capture the fullness of human experience.  Songs of love and loss, emigration, daily labors, politics, locale, humorous happens, and more give us insight into the heart of the Irish and their way of living stretching back generations.  Come discover its repertoire through exporting published collections while grasping the features of various styles by listening to prominent singers from regions across Ireland.  Together we'll discuss aspects of the tradition that make it difficult for non-natives to learn these songs, while also exploring the crucial task of tracin' that uncovers the deeper meanings and fuller stories behind each song.  

The Song Traditions of Dublin -- Brendan Nolan
Brendan Nolan will share his knowledge about the song traditions of Dublin, including love songs like “The Spanish Lady” and “Easy and Slow,” music hall numbers like “The Charladies’ Ball,” and work songs like “The Dublin Jack of All Trades” and “Two Hundred Years of Brewing (The Guiness Song).”  He will also discuss the famous Dublin rhymer, Michael Moran, also known as Zozimus, focusing on one of his many religious-themed songs, “The Finding of Moses.”  Brendan will also have some fun with some of Dublin’s irreverent ballads like “The Night Before Larry Was Stretched” and “Sergeant William Bailey,” the hated British Army recruiting sergeant.  He will also share many of his own compositions that relate his memories of growing up in Dublin, including the last horse and milk cart and a childhood visit to the dentist.  Through both singing and storytelling, Brendan will give his enrichment class participants an appreciation of Dublin’s unique and rich cultural heritage.

Tradition Versus Innovation -- Devin Shepherd

Some would have you believe that there are two categories of musician performing Irish dance music today; the "innovators," whose music is creatively infused with influences from rock, pop, hip hop, jazz, & classical elements, and the "purists," whose music has been passed down from generation to generation, note for note, unchanged. This is not so. There was enormous creativity in the playing of Irish musicians long before the advent of rock, pop, & jazz. Irish dance music is at heart a subtle, creative, powerful, & living tradition that has developed over many centuries as a melody-focused music. In this workshop, we will discuss this hot topic, sometimes referred to as "the war in Irish music."


Back to Top

 

Informances -- Albert Alfonso, Randal Bays, Mary Coogan, Steph Geremia, Billy McComiskey

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.

 

Back to Top

 

Workshop Descriptions

Anything BUT Jigs & Reels -- Clare Cason, Niamh Fahy
Are you in a musical rut?  Are jigs and reels the only tunes played at your local sessions?  Open yourself up to the many other forms of Irish music and set yourself free!  Our instructors will take you on a musical journey into slides, polkas, barn dances, hornpipes, mazurkas and more as time allows.  Bring your instrument and a recording device.  They will provide music notation. 

Ceili Dance Workshop -- Susan & Michael Harrison
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.

Field Guide to Irish Tune Types -- Clare Cason
Have you ever heard people talking about "that great jig So-and-So played at last night's concert", and you weren't sure which of the tunes WERE the jigs?  Or maybe you can tell jigs and reels apart when you hear them, but feel fuzzy on the difference between a jig and a slide, or a reel and a hornpipe.  Not to mention spotting rarer birds like barndances or mazurkas!   Learning to know what kind of tune we are hearing can really deepen our understanding of different tune types' rhythmic characteristics, and improve our listening and playing.  Join us for a class where we'll talk about the differences and practice listening to and identifying them.  We'll cover as many kinds of tunes as we can in 90 minutes! 

Gaelic Singing and More Gaelic Singing -- Alli Johnson
Enjoy this ancient style of unaccompanied singing in the Gaelic language. These two workshops are for singers and listeners alike. A discussion of the technique of sean-nos singing, learning the language and sources of music will be held.

Getting Comfortable Playing Music Around Others -- Michelle Feldman
Not every player wants to be a pro, but most people hope to play around others, such as family members, friends, or at church. And yet for many musicians, especially beginners and intermediate players, self consciousness and nerves can spoil the experience. But it doesn't have to be that way. This workshop will cover how performance anxiety shares important elements in common with other phobias and anxieties. These responses are a combination of mental, emotional and physiological reactions--learned responses that can be modified through a gradual process of relearning and reconditioning. We will focus on how the mechanics of proper practice can be used to build confidence--such as metronome practice, playing for line vs. correcting mistakes, and memorization. In addition, the emphasis will be on learning to play with good form, including proper breathing and posture and enough muscle relaxation to avoid pain and tension.

Guerilla Harp Tactics - How to Play the Harp in a Traditional Irish Session -- Therese Honey
Description to be provided soon.

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 Modes Made Easy -- Tenesa Rasmussen
There are easier ways to learn the four basic modes used in Irish Music, how to hear them, how to play them. Stop the confusion! Bring your instrument (if it’s portable!) and we will unravel the not-so-mysterious secrets of recognizing and playing along with modal tunes.  What are modes, where did they come from, why do I need to understand them?  Beginners and advanced musicians alike will find answers to these questions and more.  Discover the natural simplicity of modes and how they relate to major keys.

Learning by Ear -- Janis Deane
This class is offered for players of all instruments. The class will explore ear training and memorization tools to enhance the student’s ability to learn and retain tunes without the aid of written music or tablature.

Mandolin and Banjo Tasting -- John Liestman
This workshop will allow attendees to hear a wide variety of mandolins and tenor banjos played by one player in rapid succession, allowing the listener a unique experience to compare and contrast. After this, the demonstration instruments will be available for attendees to play for themselves. No instruments will be for sale and no instruments will be criticized. This workshop is simply to broaden the attendees experience with instruments that are impossible to find in the same room anywhere else. The instruments will be provided for the workshop by the instructor and any attendees who want to volunteer their own instruments to the mix. Attendees need not volunteer any instruments but must treat all instruments with respect and care. The workshop will be run concurrently and in the same general space as the Instrument Petting Zoo workshop.

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.

The Piano Accompaniment of Irish Music -- Kendall Rogers
This workshop will offer interested students a chance to see, hear and learn how to be a little bit less dangerous with a keyboard at sessions and ceilis.  As this is a standalone workshop, we will briefly touch on several topics, with short demonstrations along the way.  Some topics may assume some familiarity with the keyboard, scales and chords, but the workshop will generally explore the rhythms and harmonies of Irish accompaniment.  We'll also mention some of the "hows" and "whys" and a few basic rules of thumb (and fingers) to keep in mind when starting out.

Playing Irish Harmonica & Irish Harmonica Session -- 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.

Retreat Tunes Played Slowly -- John Liestman
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.

Sound Production Fundamentals -- Shaddow Walter
This class will examine the components of a sound reinforcement system from the instrument to the speakers and room and discuss techniques to get quality sound for a solo act or an ensemble.

Steps for Sets -- Maldon Meehan
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!

Supercharge Your Tune Learning -- Ian Varley
Do you wish you could learn more tunes, faster? In this workshop, we'll explore ways to organize and learn tunes that'll boost your learning speed and retention. A few basic building blocks for finding tunes and organizing your list, combined with cutting-edge modern memory research and apps, will have you spouting off tunes by the hundreds in no time. Learn more tunes, have more fun!"

There's An App for That!: Software Applications and Mobile Apps that Make Learning Tunes Easy -- Toar Schell
Various applications that allow learners to find and play tunes (even if they don't read music), but want help finding those elusive notes! We will cover major Android-Apple-Microsoft platforms that include learning by ear applications, tune finding applications, abc conversion programs that can display not only standard notation, but tablature for those who don't read music as well. This will include tablature for button accordion and tin whistle! We will also look advanced tune organizing software for performers who want to organize sets. So from beginner to seasoned performers - there's an app for that!

TRAD TALK -- 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.

Vocal Health for Singers -- Janis Deane
Singing is an athletic activity and many singers lack true understanding of how their instrument works and how to care for it.  This class will focus on the anatomy and physiology of the voice, voice function during speech and singing, and proper care of the singing voice including toning and flexibility exercises, warm-up and cool down of the voice, and when to seek medical care for voice problems. 


Back to Top

 

sessionOrganized Sessions

Slow Sessions
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.

Fast Sessions
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 -- David Polacheck
These sessions are designed for singers. You are encouraged to bring lyrics and sheet music and share your favorite songs with the group.

Playing Tunes with... -- Pauline Conneely, James Hamilton, Brid Harper, Jeff Moore, Tony O'Connell , Cara Wildman
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.

Back to Top

 


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?

Back to Top

 


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?

Back to Top


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?

Back to Top


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.

Back to Top



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?

Back to Top

 

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?

Back to Top