A variety of topics related to Irish music ranging from history to travel to technique to technology. Our enrichment classes serve to make Irish music more a part of who we are as we strengthen our ties to this tradition. See SCHEDULE for the times, days and locations of these classes.
Accompanying Songs on Traditional Non-accompanying Instruments
Instructor: Brenda Castles
Learn how to accompany the songs on your non-accompanying instrument. Many melody players get all in a muddle when someone sings a song at the session. Do I play? Do I say quiet? Should I just play the song melody over and over or can I be more creative? What’s complementary and what’s too much?
Color and Texture and Music
Instructor: Liz Knowles
Color and texture exist in the visual world around us and developing the skills to see these qualities more fully, deepen the language used to describe them and use these observations conceptually give us an interesting and useful way to understand music, both while listening and in the act of playing. This talk will introduce you to some of the ways that having a visual reference point might give you more insight into ways to improve your technique and sound, hearing music more fully, and might give you some creative ideas for arranging and composing music.
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann: An North American Perspective
Instructor: Paul Keating
Since 1972 when the first branches of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (aka CCE) were formed in North America, it has shared the aims and objectives of the largest cultural movement in Ireland and Britain to preserve, promote and foster Traditional Irish music, song, dance and the Irish language in the USA and Canada. Relying on grass roots volunteer efforts it has faced many obstacles and challenges over the decades maintaining the “Living Tradition” in many cities and towns that developed into a Continental network with Provincial status equal to Ireland’s Four Provinces and Britain. How did that happen and what has it achieved in the intervening decades and perhaps just as important where does it go in the 21st Century where emigration from Ireland is severely restricted and Irish America and Irish cultural enthusiasts will have to define its goals and objectives in a new age.
Exploring the Connection between Irish and Appalachian Music
Instructor: Frances Cunningham
Frances Cunningham will demonstrate tunes and songs which have versions on both sides of the Atlantic. Frances grew up in the Irish Traditional Music world but also spent several years playing Old Time music with the Mike Snider String Band on the Grand Ole Opry. We will discuss the differences in rhythms and phrasing between Irish and Old Time music for a more seamless transition for the musician wishing to play both.
The Humble Tin Whistle
Instructor: Kevin Crawford
Its place and its potential in Irish music.
The Irish Catskills: Where History Looks Forward
Instructor: Paul Keating
This year the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York will celebrate 25 years as the largest summer school devoted to Traditional Irish Music in North America. Overlaid in an Irish-American village in the Northern Catskills, the music and dance camp began very small in 1995 but has welcomed thousands of students and devotees ever since to the annual week which has been described as the “Willie Clancy School” of North America. This discussion will take a look at the origins and importance of traditional music and dance in the greater New York area and how it evolved. That evolution helped revive a dormant Irish resort area into a very significant crossroads in the USA with a real Irish village experience that drew from the historical path the Irish took to the Catskills and became a vital link fostering Irish culture on both sides of the Atlantic.
Irish Traditional Music in England
Instructor: Colin Farrell
This class will explore the different regions, bands and musicians that have contributed to the Irish music tradition and have been a big influence on a lot of today’s musicians playing Irish music.
Learn New Ways to Vary a Tune
Instructor: Grey Larsen
In this hands-on class for all melody players — bring your instrument! — we’ll explore melodic variation and add to your repertoire of nuts-and-bolts variation techniques. With new ideas and a broader understanding of what it can be to play a tune, the goal is to help you find more freedom, enjoy tunes in a fresh way, and expand your range of self-expression. Recording devices are welcome.
O’Carolan Tunes Played Slowly
Instructor: Sue Richards
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 class just for you. Sue Richards 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 pieces of music they are.
TRAD Talk with Rose Conway Flanagan
Moderator: Ken Fleming
Each year, the Traditional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) recognizes a prominent musician who has advanced the learning and performing of traditional Irish music in the United States. We are pleased that fiddler Rose Conway Flanagan will be this year’s recipient of the award. 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.
Writing Songs that Tell the Stories
Instructor: John Doyle
John Doyle’s songs demonstrate a mastery of storytelling, whether he’s singing about his great grandfather surviving the torpedoing of the S.S. Arabic in 1915, the famine victims abroad, the coffin ships sailing to Quebec, or the tragedy of Irish immigrants on opposing sides killing each other in the Battle of Fredericksburg during the American Civil War. John’s class will give insights into finding inspiration for songwriting, choosing the right lyrics, and the role of rhythm and melody in telling a story and conveying the emotions you want your listeners to experience.
Swimming Upstream: the Magnificence of Finbarr Dwyer
Instructor: Karen Tweed
A brief look at the life, times, playing and composing of accordionist Finbarr Dwyer. One of Ireland’s iconic players and composers, Finbarr spent many years playing outside of Ireland and also played both the piano accordion and button accordion. An inspiring force illustrating how seemingly-daring composition and writing music approaches can be not only assimilated but welcomed into the Irish tradition.
Tunes from the Sligo Fiddle Tradition
Instructor: Oisín Mac Diarmada
One of the most rewarding aspects of delving into historic recordings of traditional Irish music, is coming across versions of tunes which differ from how they are typically played today. The difference can be as subtle as one altered note, but the freshness with which it imbues the tune, can make a revitalizing impact on the melody. This demonstration will include interesting tune versions from historic Sligo fiddlers, including versions featured in the recent Fiddlers of Sligo Tunebook publication by Oisín Mac Diarmada and Daithí Gormley.