Workshops at our music camp are led by our students, instructors and guests who bring a level of expertise to their subjects that is truly remarkable. Some are professional in their areas that they teach while others share their “tried and true” experiences. The variety of workshops that have been offered attest to the varied interests of those who come to the retreat. Our thanks to all of those who have prepared these workshops with such care.
ABC Tune Notation and Tools — Rick Roberts & John Liestman
ABC music notation has become the internet standard for sharing Irish tunes around the world. Using ABC notation, Irish tunes can be represented in a few lines of text that anyone can type at computer keyboard. For those that don’t read music, it is often easier to learn than standard music notation. For those that do read music, software is readily available to print high quality sheet music from tunes in ABC format. In this workshop, students will learn how to read and write ABC notation, how to print sheet music from ABC notation on your PC, how to play ABC tunes on your PC, and where and how to download Irish tunes from the internet.
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.
Accompanying Songs on Traditional Non-accompanying Instruments — 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?
Anything BUT Jigs & Reels — Multiple Presenters
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.
Arrangement as It Applies to Irish Tunes Sets and Songs — Mike Dugger
This workshop will discuss how to enhance your performances for live or recorded efforts in arranging Irish tune sets and songs. The instructor will discuss the concepts of variation in how the tune is played melodically, where the use of grace notes, rolls and triplets add to the arrangement process, how key changes from one tune to the next in a set provide the energy level you seek, and the instrumentation used if your group has multiple melody players. We will also discuss chord choices for backing instruments like guitar, bouzouki and piano. These concepts will also help the solo Irish musician who is thinking of doing a recording with other players in the future. Song arrangements will also be discussed as to hooks, melodic lines, harmonies and where to place them in the verse structure of the song you wish to sing.
Arrangement for Session and Stage with Sean Earnest
Sean will explore the differences between accompanying melodies in the session environment versus an ensemble band. He will demonstrate how he approaches tune accompaniment in an informal session then share various techniques for increasing dynamics and creating more dramatic effects as though he were arranging for a band performance or recording. He’ll also address the effect that the “polished stage band” has had on the role of accompaniment within Irish music, especially as it pertains to the guitar and bouzouki.
Arranging for Irish Music Ensembles — Kevin Alewine
This workshop will explore ways to blend instruments and vocals to create a pleasing presentation of traditional Irish music. Variations, tempos, interludes, rhythms, counter melodies and more will be addressed.
Arranging Irish Songs for Performance — Pat Egan
In this class Pat will discuss ideas for arranging Irish songs for performance including how to select tempos and mood, where to include instrumental interludes and how to select the best key to accommodate the singer and the instrumentalists.
Arranging Tunes and Songs for Stage Performance and Recording — Gordon McLeod and David Mehalko
This class will focus on the principles and concepts of arranging tunes and songs for live performance or recording by a small ensemble . Examples from successful bands will be used to demonstrate the ideas and concepts.
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.
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.”
Basic Sound System Operation — Travis Ener and Russ Alvey
This three-part workshop will examine mixers, processors, power amps, microphones, and speakers and discuss ways to improve your sound individually or for an entire ensemble and how to interface with sound engineers.
Basic Sound Systems — Travis Ener
The class will examine mixers, processors, power amps, and speakers and discuss ways to improve your sound individually or for an entire ensemble.
Bodhran Friendly Session — Cara Wildman & 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 Cara will available for guidance and assistance when needed.
Bunting’s “Graces”: What and how to use them? — Cindy Schaufenbuel
You’ve heard of the famous Belfast Harp Festival of 1792, and of the 19-year-old prodigy, Edward Bunting, who was asked to notate the playing of the traveling harpers there. But did you know that in later life, Bunting and his colleagues spent countless hours recording how the dying breed of itinerant harpers played the beautiful and haunting old Irish melodies? Most harpers today are not taught these techniques, which include the execution of ornaments, or “graces,” even though they were a crucial feature of the harpers’ music. Several of the “graces” are playable on modern harps with nylon/gut stings, not just on wire strings. In this workshop, we will learn how to execute a few of them, and try them out with a Carolan melody.
Can You Play That Part Again? – Learning Tunes By Ear – Tess Hartis
This workshop is intended for players of any instrument and any level who want to enhance their ability to learn tunes without sheet music or other music notation. Students will learn ways to practice ear-training, what to listen for in tunes, and come away with various tools and resources to help them learn tunes faster and more efficiently.
Ceili at Another Level — Susan & Michael Harrison
This class will feature more advanced ceili dances seldom danced at area ceilis. Each class will focus on a different dance or dances.
Ceili Dance Workshops — Susan & Michael Harrison, 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.
Celtic Radio in the Digital Age — Susan Ritta
The era of bespoke radio programming – where one sets their clock to a specific program they tune into each week – seems to be dwindling in popularity in favor of the increased ease and access of on-demand streaming and podcasting services. Even so, there are benefits to radio broadcasting that on-demand content cannot necessarily supply. Sit down with Thunder on the Plains host Susan J. E. Ritta, as she explores Celtic radio’s evolution and unique relevance to local and regional communities, music lovers, and musicians alike – as well as how and why you should continue to support local Celtic radio shows.
Competition Versus Playing For Yourself — Dylan Foley
Dylan Foley was the Senior All-Ireland Fiddle Champion in 2014. The last time the title went to an American was 1986 when Dylan’s mentor and teacher Brian Conway won the coveted title. Competition is a difficult path for many and it takes a winning strategy. Dylan will share his approach for preparing for competition but, not surprisingly, his process gives helpful steps for any player wanting to become better on his or her instrument. He will cover tune choices, practice methods, and discuss how to gain benefits by learning from others. There will be Q and A along with a few tunes played by Dylan.
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.
Creative Practice for Melody Instruments – Margaret Keefe
This is a workshop designed to assist students in finding joy and inspiration in learning and playing traditional music on melody instruments. If you have ever felt stuck in a rut with your musical and creative practice, you are not alone! We all get there from time to time. It can be helpful to have some fresh practice ideas to help you shift your perspective and take on new challenges. Topics will include activities and ideas for improving your rhythm, learning by ear, playing in sessions, how to use technology, listening, ABC notation, creating variations, finding your sound, and more. The goal is to supply you with tools to design your own creative practice. Bring questions!
Creativity within Traditional Irish Music – Pádraig Rynne
Traditional Irish music is open to taking any form that the musician wants it to take. It is a music of the folk and we will take that approach when looking at creative processes which can be applied to traditional Irish music. The workshop will focus on arrangements with voice and instruments. A piece of music and/or song will be fully arranged through adding harmony, rhythms, and unconventional approaches to the music. The wider the variety of instruments, the more creative it will be. You will be shown the tools that can be used for arranging music and which can easily be applied to your music long after the workshop itself. It will give each person the opportunity to explore the music as they would like to hear it rather than in a singular. As part of the workshop, we will look at some of the more successful musicians in recent times and question what made their music so unique.
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.
Feel & Groove – Nicolle Fig
“Feel & Groove” will introduce exercises to improve coordination and timing. Nicolle will dive deep into the concept of “being connected to properly disconnect.” She will give an overview as to how to sense the rhythm and groove in various tune types. She will discuss identifying tune types, finding the beat, “hooks,” phrasing, and overall feeling of tunes. This class is recommended for those who wish to improve their timing or sense or rhythm, phrasing, tune recognition, or for those who feel stuck playing tune types rather than individual tunes.
Fiddle Physics – James Rix
The class will discuss the principles of the physics behind the Celtic sound and tone production on the violin without going into the math. We’ll cover the techniques for producing a traditional Celtic sound. We will explore the science behind why violins sound different from each other and how the violin has evolved to what it is today
Finding the Tune within the Tune — Eileen Gannon
While highly rhythmic accompaniment can be great, it doesn’t always complement every type of melody player’s style. We will explore a new way of accompanying Irish music by listening for “the tune within the tune” and shaping the accompaniment around it. Think sprinkles, spotlights, and shadows!
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!
Finding the Tune within the Tune — Eileen Gannon
While highly rhythmic accompaniment can be great, it doesn’t always complement every type of melody player’s style. We will explore a new way of accompanying Irish music by listening for “the tune within the tune” and shaping the accompaniment around it. Think sprinkles, spotlights, and shadows!
Flat Picking Irish Tunes on Guitar — John Burleson
For those who enjoy playing melodies on guitar or want to learn, this class will focus on flat picking techniques and ornamentation.
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.
Gaelic Singing Workshops — Denice Brown, Karen Ballew, 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.
Gaining Confidence for Singing and Performing Songs — Michael Black
Michael Black hails from a musical Dublin family and he grew up in a household where singing was a normal part of daily life. Both his parents were singers, as are his sisters and brothers (Mary, Frances, Shay and Martin). Now, the next generation of Black Family is bursting on to the scene with his nephews/nieces (Eoghan and Aoife Scott, Danny [The Coronas Band] and Rose O’Reilly) all becoming emerging stars in the music business. His three young daughters (and Shay’s daughter), ranging from 10-13yrs. of age, have all been performing (singing and dancing) since they were five or six. Michael borrows from the dictum of his brother Shay, which is, “if you can hum it you can sing it”. He will offer suggestions on how to encourage singing publicly and will talk and give examples on how to select and perform songs that will be received well by audiences. Topics include gaining confidence, choice of song, delivery, and identifying the appropriate setting for a particular song.
Gearing Up for Sessions — Daniel Lowery
This class will cover the basics (and some of the finer points) of playing in sessions. No matter how long ago — or how recently — you’ve come to Irish traditional music, we’ll make sure you’ve got the customs down, we’ll make sure you have a good hit parade list of session tunes, and we’ll make sure you get the most out of this time-honored tradition!
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.
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.
Getting Your Rhythmic House in Order — Cara Wildman & Jim DeWan
Every great accompanist knows that the key to great accompaniment is listening to the person you’re accompanying. When there are two accompanists, though, they must listen not only to the tune, but, to each other as well. By playing off of each other as well as off of the main melody, the sound produced by the rhythm section becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Come for the strategies for musical communication between drummers and stringed accompaniment and st
Guerilla Harp Tactics – How to Play the Harp in a
Trad Irish Session — Therese Honey
Do you want to play in a session with other instruments but don’t know all of the tunes or can’t play at the same speed as everyone else? There are strategies to help! We will have a melody instrument play tunes for us as we experiment with different ways to accompany traditional tunes in a session.
Harp Circle — Therese Honey
Essentially, a session for harpists that focuses on melodies that are commonly played in the Irish music tradition on harp.
Home and Small Studio Recording for Irish Musicians — Gordon McLeod
Advances in technology have made it possible and affordable for musicians to produce their own recordings at home. However, a basic technical understanding of the technology and a clear aesthetic vision are also needed to create a successful recording. This workshop will provide an introduction to the techniques and artistic considerations involved in recording in a home or small project studio.
How to Arrange Irish Tunes into Sets – Mike Dugger
We will talk about the arrangement of tunes into playable and energetic medleys. We will discuss how to use different types of Irish tunes of different meters and key signatures to enhance the beauty or power a set of tunes can provide. There will also be be discussion about mixing musical idioms such as French tunes into Irish tunes. There will be a focus on the importance of key changes, and a how a broader repertoire will make you a better set builder.
How to Find and Attend Sessions When Travelling — Tom Purvis
While the presentation will be on traveling and finding sessions primarily in Ireland, the resources will also apply to travel elsewhere. We will discuss how you locate sessions, tunes to learn, expectations and behavior.
How to Lead Tunes in a Session – Janice Frillmann
This workshop is designed to help players break out of their “shells” to be bold to lead tunes in a session. We’ll discuss how to set tempos and how to communicate with non-lead instruments.
How to Practice – David McKindley-Ward
If you have ever struggled with what to practice, how to practice, or even when to practice, welcome to the club. You would be surprised how many advanced musicians and performers struggle with maintaining a practice schedule, so this workshop will discuss tips and tricks on how to have effective, efficient and most importantly, fun and encouraging practice sessions.
How to Practice — Liz Knowles
Do you find that the very idea of practicing makes you tired? Do you feel like it is a drudgery? Are you bored? Or maybe you just don’t know where to start? This workshop will cover fundamentals for designing your practice time as well as giving you some tips on how to make practice effective and efficient.
How to Practice Effectively — Lexi Boatright
Do you ever feel like your playing has hit a wall? Can you imagine how you want your tune to sound but you just can’t make your fingers do it? Have you ever wondered why it’s worth it to understand music theory fundamentals or how that knowledge could be applied to actual music making? Join Lexi in learning practice techniques to tackle common frustrations in learning Irish music. We will discuss how to identify what is the root cause of a problem, how to triage technical difficulties and prioritize your practice time, and tools to make that tricky section feel effortless. Every problem can be solved if you know what tool to use! This class is suitable to every instrument.
How to Run a (Friendly) Session — Ian Varley
Do you know the secret to a good session? (No, it’s not giving all the banjo players the wrong address.) In this talk, veteran O’Flaherty’s presenter Ian Varley will cover the ins and outs of running a killer session, based on his experience running a popular session in Austin for several years. We’ll share specific techniques for how to make your session a FRIENDLY one: welcoming for newcomers, but without annoying the experienced players. We’ll cover the venue relationship, how to institute good policies and traditions, and how to (kindly) convey proper session etiquette when things aren’t going smoothly (i.e. when the guy with the spoons won’t stop). Whether you’ve already got a thriving session, or you’re looking to reinvigorate one or start something new, this talk will give you concrete takeaways on how to grow a world-class session that stands the test of time.
How to Work With and Play Behind Singers — John Nolan
Most instrumentalists have trouble going beyond the melody, and playing in different keys can sometimes throw them out of orbit. John can’t turn everyone into a studio musician in the space of an hour, but he plans to explore some of the “tricks of the trade” in accompanying singers that can improve your efforts. The goal is to make people a little more comfortable about working with singers without walking all over the songs.
The Importance of Listening — Kelly Gannon
This class will demonstrate exceptional musical partnerships, discuss the difference between solo and group playing, and examine audible examples in light of the surprising lack of listening in musical performance and practice.
Interfacing with Your Sound System & Sound Engineer — Travis Ener
Learn how to get your music successfully into the system via microphones and DIs. Communicating with the sound engineer: stage plots, pre-show preparation, during the performance adjustments, post-show tips.
Introduction to Irish Fiddle for Classical Violinists — Heather Gilmer, David Mehalko, Kiana June Weber
This class will cover the fundamentals of learning Irish fiddle for those who already play classical violin, based on the instructor’s own background in classical music. She will dispel many of the myths surrounding Irish fiddle music and cover several of the skills it takes to develop the style. Topics covered will include learning by ear, bowing, vibrato, ornamentation, and more. The goal of this workshop is to give students a foundational skill set for developing an authentic style of Irish fiddle playing.
Introduction to Sean-Nós Singing — David Ingerson
David list and comment on the important characteristics of sean-nós (old style Irish) singing and play a number of examples of masters of the style. I then teach a moderately simple example of a song in the sean-nós style (but in English for ease of learning), based on a recording of one of the masters. In addition, I provide a handout which lists all the characteristics and includes commentary, a discography, and links (available shortly at this link: https://www.davidingersonmusic.com/workshops.
Introduction to the Irish Language (An Ghaeilge) – Ian Varley
This workshop will review the three major dialects and address word construction and pronunciation guidelines as well as discuss situations that cause changes to word spellings and pronunciations and comparisons between literal and meaningful translations. Students will also learn a few basic phrases to greet people and some helpful resources for learning Irish.
Instrument Petting Zoo — John Liestman
Of all the O’Flaherty instruments, about the only 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, massage a mandolin, burst into banjo, 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. If you are interested in purchasing a used instrument, we will host an O’Flaherty Fleadh Market during the same time and in the same area as the Instrument Petting Zoo. For details, go to MARKET.
iPad Apps for Traditional Musicians – Kenny Tweedy
Are you still printing out sheet music and lyric sheets on paper? Would you like to use fewer trees? This workshop is for traditional Irish musicians and will show you how to use an iPad for all your music needs. This workshop will cover the TuneBook and SongBook apps for ABC sheet music and lyric sheets. TuneBook is a free app which allows you to manage multiple tune books. You can collect and edit ABC tune books on your computer and then share them with your iPad. SongBook is a free app which allows you to use song lyric sheets with chords. It supports chord transposition, if you want to change the key or use a capo. This workshop will also cover integration with Google Drive and show you how to easily share tune books and lyric sheets between Mac/PC and iPad, or share your files with a friend.
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.
Irish Music 101 — Clare Cason
What is traditional Irish music, and what are its many forms? If you are just beginning your journey into Irish music, or you already are a player but want to expand your knowledge of the music, this class will give you a more complete understanding of what constitutes Irish music. The presenter will demonstrate on fiddle the different types of tunes that represent well the tradition, and shed some light on what sets them apart from one another.
Irish Tunes Played Slow — Multiple Presenters
These sessions are designed to teach new tunes and to cover some of the tunes students have already learned at the retreat. The tunes will be played many times at a slow tempo and then faster so all levels of players can participate.
Irish Tunes Played Up to Speed — Multiple Presenters
These instructor-led sessions are designed for students who are very familiar with traditional Irish music and can play tunes up to dance speeds.
It’s Not the Same Tune… Or Is It? Understanding Patterns and Variations in Irish Music — Ian Varley
We will explore a series of tunes to show the similarity between phrases and sections at various levels of abstraction via mathematical analysis and visualization, to understand how variation and familiarity works in Irish music. Bonus — there will be funny cat pictures.
Keys, Modes and Scales – Intro to Music Theory for Irish Players — Rick Roberts
Using a combination of visual patterns and ear training exercises, you will learn the basic skills to recognize and understand the keys and modes commonly used in Irish traditional music. The simple relationships between keys will be explained. We will not be reading music notation. This class does not cover harmony.
Learning and Using ABC Notation – John Liestman
ABC music notation has become the internet standard for sharing Irish tunes around the world but ABC notation can be used for so much more. ABC notation uses simple text editing to capture music, from simple to complex, in a way that is easier to learn than standard music notation. All you need are the keys on a standard keyboard, no special paper or drawing notes! Once captured, the tunes can be easily edited, shared, used for publishing sheet music, assembled into sets, used to create incipits (cheat sheets shwoing the few few measures as a memory aid), edited to capture variations and playing tips, and more. The software covered in this workshop is all free and simple to use. ABC notation is probably the best system for capturing what you learn in music workshops like O’Flaherty so you retain what you learned.
Learning by Ear — Kevin Alewine, 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.
Learning Basic Ceili Steps and Dances — Susan & Michael Harrison
Here is a class for people who have never danced ceili or need a refresher. Students will learn basic ceili steps and dances.
Learning Dance to Understand Traditional Irish Music — Máirtín de Cógáin
Nearly all of traditional Irish music is dance music. It makes good sense to learn something about Irish dance to understand why tunes are played certain ways and what tunes fit with certain dances. There is a reason why there is a lilt to tunes, phrases, turns and set number of measures. Join Máirtín for a “feet-on” experience that will give you important insight into dance music and get yourself ready for the Saturday night ceili.
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.
Learning Irish tunes as an older person: Why it’s possible, and how! — Tom Lockney
This workshop is led by a senior player who started playing Irish music in his 50s, and now, in his 70s, plays both banjo and fiddle regularly at sessions and in dance bands. The workshop will share learning techniques he has used himself and also with students: those that seem to work, and those that seem to be common but unhelpful. The workshop is non-instrument specific and will draw from the workshop presented in 2018 on how to practice. Topics to be covered include reasons to learn as an (older?) adult, encouragement (you’re seldom “too old”), reasonable goal setting, practice techniques, finding teachers, playing with others, using technology, and more.
Listening to Learn – Learning to Listen — Harry Bradley
In this class, Harry Bradley will explore ways for listening to old piping recordings and bringing elements of them into our own playing. Central to discovering effective modes of practice is understanding, via close listening, the ways in which these great musicians laid down a solid rhythm and melody. Harry will teach how the understanding and applying of these core principles will achieve 80-90 percent of performing a given piece well. This class will inform how we can use these practices methodically to give our playing the ‘backbone’ or basis for a solid rhythm and melody.
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.
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.
Microphones & Miking Techniques for Acoustic Music — Travis Ener
A close look at microphones, their types, pickup patterns and more. Travis will explore some of the most favorite makes and models and discuss their uses with different instruments.
The Modal Harmonic Context of Irish Traditional Music — Roger Landes
Irish traditional tunes inhabit four “modes” or scales, only two of which correspond to the major and minor scales of the Western European Classical tradition, and two more that are found in other traditional musics but which are exploited in ways unique to Irish music. We’ll investigate how these modes are utilized in Irish traditional music, discovering the harmonic information typically embedded within Irish melodies, explore different approaches for harmonizing them and then look at possibilities for these harmonic ideas on our instruments Most importantly this workshop will provide a set of tools for understanding the modal nature of Irish traditional music and some handy shortcuts for analyzing and harmonizing melodies. While this topic is probably mostly of interest to players of chordal instruments it also provides information that is really useful for melody players.
Modal Harmony, Parts 1 & 2 — Roger Landes
This class taught by master accompanist Roger Landes will be conducted in two one-hour sessions and will give some insight into the underlying musical foundation of most Irish music. The four primary modes of Irish music will be covered: major, dorian, mixolydian, and minor. If you are interested in the makeup of tunes or how to accompany them creatively, this class should not be missed. Some understanding of music theory is advisable and players of all instruments and abilities are welcomed. Each class will focus on different material.
The Musical Athlete Versus Muscle Pain — David Doocey
A general discussion about muscle strains and aches that are common amongst musicians. This will include tips and exercises that are used to help and prevent said issues from developing.
Musicality for Dancers — Siobhan Butler
Sean-Nós Dancing has long been described as a “musical” dance form. It’s improvised nature allows dancers to arrange their dancing to accompany the tunes found within Irish music, but first dancers must have a strong understanding of Irish music and how dance can be use to compliment it. This class will discuss tune structure, variations, and music accompaniment, giving the dancers tools they can use to approach their dancing as both a dancer and a musician.
Musical Collaborations Using Acapella on iPads/iPhones — Kenny Tweedy
Over the past two years many musicians have been finding new ways to interact with other musicians online and to collaborate using the latest technology. You may have seen some video collages of musicians that appear to be playing together. One of the easiest ways to create these collages is using the iOS App Acapella.
In this workshop Kenny Tweedy will present a tutorial on how to get started collaborating with Acapella. How to use a basic set-up with ear buds. For sound purists, Kenny will also show how to set up a quality microphone and earphones to you iPhone or iPad. A few sample video collaborations will be presented. Also, a system for using Google docs to administer collaborations will be presented.
Music Theory for Traditional Musicians — Baron Collins-Hill
Music Theory is a huge topic, but as an Irish traditional musician, there is only so much that you really need to know. Over the course of the hour, Baron will break down what you need to know, why, and some historical context for some of the music theory traditions found in Irish traditional music. Time will be spent exploring both melodic and harmonic (chordal) theory and traditions. No experience necessary, and open to all instruments, dancers, and singers.
Next Level Irish Music Theory — Ian Varley
In 2018, Ian Varley gave a popular talk on the basics of Music Theory, with an introductory analysis of how it functions in traditional Irish music. This year (2019), he’ll dive head-first into the next chapter: an analysis of what actually makes the Irish style of music so unique and compelling, at a deep melodic and harmonic level. Be prepared to see and hear this music in a whole new way, through a mathematical analysis of traditional tune structure. We’ll investigate the results of using data mining techniques against the entire corpus of Irish tunes, and try to understand the way that difference, variation and evolution form the living heart of this style. Basic understanding of music theory (such as last year’s class, viewable at http://bit.ly/trad-irish-music-theory) is strongly recommended.
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.
Phrasing Produces the Lilt – Cliff Moses
This workshop looks at the playing of Irish music through the lens of poetry as an aid to understanding how the duration of individual notes and the internal phrasing produce the unique feel of Irish music. A poet chooses words carefully to provide a natural rhythm when the poem is spoken. Some words take longer to say than others; these words/syllables provide the pulse of the poem. Additionally, the wording produces internal phrasing that enhances the rhythm. Similarly, it is the relative duration of notes combined with the internal phrasing that provide the rhythm as well as the lilt to playing Irish music. This approach helps the musician to internalize the feel of Irish music which, in turn, aids in learning and playing Irish music whether from listening or print.
The Piano Accompaniment of Irish Music — Allison Hicks, 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 for Competitions, Ceilis and Feisanna — Patty Furlong
Patty will explore what it takes to be in a band competing at the Fleadh Cheoil Nah Eireann. Discussion will include types of instruments involved, tune selection for specific age groups and criteria for judging. Then Patty will focus on playing for ceilis and what sets are danced, appropriate tunes for specific sets and how to determine when to stop for each figure. Finally, she will cover playing for a Feis and will discuss North American Feis Commission (NAFC) critieria for timing for jigs, reels, hornpipes and slip jigs. The levels of dancing (6) in grades will be reviewed as well as the criteria for preliminary and open champiosnhips and playing for figure dancing.
Playing for Dancers — Angelika Eleni
Music and dance are made for each other and in no case is that more true than in the Irish tradition. Session and gig expertise is what many players work toward, leaving a whole area of collaboration and play that is left unexplored! Playing for dancers is a rewarding creative experience that will inevitably come up in a musician’s path and this workshop is here to prepare you for it. Whether it’s for a ceili or for a fellow session-goer that may want to pull out a step, this class will walk you through what to expect with tunes, tempo, rhythm, and good practice. There will be a mix of demonstration, presentation, and prompted practice that will prepare you to use your new skills then and there.. at O’Flaherty!
Playing with Ease — Enda Scahill
Playing Irish music isn’t all about learning the notes. For many, the physical ability required to play the music is often a challenge. It’s surprising the number of injuries of those who play under stress or, more often, the inability of players to ornament or play at the right tempo due to tension in their playing style. Enda explores what he has learned about “playing with ease” to lessen the pain and stress associated with performing this most bruising of music. Irish music is not for wimps, so gear up for some tips to get your playing in shape.
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.
Playing Pain Free — How to Keep from Becoming a Musical Martyr — Robert Shaddox
Students will understand how playing their instruments can cause pain and dysfunction in their neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrist and hands. Students will be taught strategies that they can implement to prevent or decrease these discomforts. The instructor will use demonstration and hands on learning to re-enforce these strategies. The students will learn basic principles of body mechanics, injury prevention and exercises that they can apply to playing their instruments and broaden to other areas of their lives.
Pub Songs Sing-Along — Joseph Beckey
Pub songs are raucous, tuneful, and above all, fun! Gather to sing popular Irish pub songs, and maybe learn a few new ones. Great for singers and accompanists. Lyrics and chords provided.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 — Multiple Presenters
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.
The Rhythm of Rolls — Katie Geringer
Ornamentation is used to create and accentuate rhythm and can also provide variation and contribute to one’s individual and unique sound. Using reference recordings, we’ll examine a variety of roll examples and make note of the rhythm they create, plus any use of pitch and emphasis that combine to create a particular sound. We’ll try out each example together in hopes that you’ll find some you like and can add to your arsenal of ornaments for varied, rhythmic playing.
Safe Trad — Helping to Prevent Performance Injuries — Liz Doherty
It can be argued that musicians have a lot in common with athletes, i.e. the physical demands of long hours of practice, a high level of technical expertise required to perform at the required level, as well as issues around performance itself. Unlike athletes, however, there is little support to manage musculoskeletal problems in musicians despite a prevalence of playing-related musculoskeletal injuries (PRMDs) of up to 87%. Liz Doherty is a fiddle player and academic who have been involved in the Safe Trad research project at Ulster University to the past 10 years. She will look at some of the findings from this research about how performance-related injuries affect traditional musicians, and offer some tips on how to develop good habits that might help prevent these injuries.
Session Etiquette — Josh Dukes
If you are considering starting a session or your sessions are driving players away instead of attracting them, come join Josh for a look at some common-sense approaches to organizing sessions. No one likes to set rules when it comes to informally sharing tunes, but not surprisingly, successful sessions depend on them. Believe it or not, there is a lot of agreement as to what is commonly referred to as “session etiquette.” Josh will dive into some of the more controversial topics surrounding sessions. Just don’t shoot the messenger.
The Session Etiquette Debate — Ken Fleming
Sessions come in many varieties and that means players will likely differ on what is considered “proper session ettiquette.” In fact, some people get very emotional about it because of their strong opinions about what instruments are acceptedly “traditional,” how many bodhrans or guitars should play at one time, what songs if any shoud be permitted, who sits in the inner circle, who gets assigned to the outlands, whether or not tunebooks, music stands or recording devices can be used. Are you uncomfortable yet? Come join Ken for a friendly discussion (debate seems too harsh) about one of the most important expressions in Irish music — the session. Are there rules?
Sessions for Playing and Learning — Jim Wells
Jim has been organizing sessions in the North Dallas area for the past six years and recently was tapped by the Traditional Irish Music Education Society (TIMES) to expand sessions into other areas in North Texas. His sessions are not the more common “open sessions” found in many communities because, by design, they take a more educational approach. There are separate sessions offered for beginning, intermediate and advanced levels, each having their own music selections. Many O’Flaherty Retreat students have greatly benefited from the currently existing TIMES sessions which help them to keep practicing and playing the tunes all year-round. Jim will share how he organizes the T.I.M.E.S. sessions and provide information on how to start your own sessions.
Set Dancing — Susan & Michael Harrison
This class will be offered several times during the weekend with a different dance or dances with accompanying steps taught at each class. This class is good for people who have danced ceili but would like to learn something new. Set dancing is most popular today in rural Ireland and appropriate for adults of all ages. Sets tend to be less athletic than many ceili dances.
Sharing and Making Money from Your Music in the Digital Age: The Best New Tools and How to Use Them — Dan Gurney
The Internet has been thoroughly disrupting the traditional models of the music industry, including CD sales, touring, and fan engagement. Now, musicians are finding new ways to share their music and earn money. Join Dan, the CEO of leading live streaming platform Concert Window, as he gives an overview of the most effective and cutting edge tools for musicians, including Kickstarter, Patreon, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp, and talks about how to use each of them effectively. The class will include a presentation by Dan as well as demos and questions and answers throughout.
Small Format Digital Mixers – Taking Your Live Performances to the Next Level — Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy runs a band booking agency called Erin Shore Productions for up and coming ensembles in Texas and he does sound for over 200 live performances a year. In this seminar, he will describe the different types of small format digital mixers that have been revolutionizing live sound over the past three years. For $400 you can have a digital mixer that provides the same capabilities as $10,000 in mixing equipment just five years ago. Get some hands on experience with the Behringer XAir 16, XAir 18, X32 Rack, and X32 console mixers, and learn how to mix your band entirely off an iPad and cut your set-up time in half.
Songs: Performance, Accompaniment and Composition — Robbie O’Connell
This class will examine all aspects of songs, singing and performing. We will cover traditional and contemporary songs, both accompanied and unaccompanied. How do you get the most out of a song and make it your own? The answers are surprisingly simple and we will explore them in depth. We will look at guitar accompaniment in regular and alternate tunings. We will show you how to find the best key for you and explore the various options for accompaniment. What makes one singer’s version of a song the definitive version? We will analyze the techniques that make a song great. We will see how introductions and links are put together and how they can dress up a song and give it a unique style. We will trace the evolution of a song from a book or a field recording to performance on stage. We will discuss how a spoken introduction can set up a song. Have you ever wanted to write a song but did not know where to begin? We will cover the stages of song writing from the initial idea to the finished song. We will discuss the tips and tricks for increasing your creativity and becoming a songwriter. Bring a recorder, a notebook and an instrument. If songs are your passion, this is the class for you.
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.
So You Want to Form a Band? — Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on what things should be considered in forming a band performing Irish music. Panelists will address getting started, getting tight, getting gigs, getting known, getting where you want to be.
So You Want to Play Celtic Fiddle? — Janice Frillmann
A serious/comical look at the differences between being a classically trained violinist studying to become a Celtic fiddler.
Steps & Tunes: A Session for Dancers and Musicians — Maldon Meehan
This is a great opportunity for musicians and dancers to get together and play in a fun and supportive environment. Everyone is welcome here, from experienced dancers and musicians to curious beginners. We encourage everyone to join in and try something new! All too often, musicians only get to play for dancers, but there is a symbiotic relationship between the two disciplines that is really special. This session provides a wonderful opportunity for us to explore that relationship and create something truly magical. So come on in, have some fun, and let’s make some beautiful music together!
Stringed Instrument Maintenance and Repair — Dave Cory
Dave has been repairing non-bowed stringed instruments for 15 years, proffesionaly for 10 years. He will cover as many topics as possible, including: basic setups, buzz/rattle diagnosis, d.i.y. “in a pinch” repairs, what to expect with involved repairs, etc. Since to one degree or anther, the instruments we use affect the nature of what we can play, and how easily, Dave will try also to address how differences in set-ups, string gauges, and instruments can suit ones musical taste and style. There will be literature and reference material, no tools, and no shop knowledge needed.
Stringing Tunes Together: Creating Sets — Angela Botzer
Why do some tunes go so well together in some sets, and not work so well in other sets? We will examine what works well and what doesn’t, which key progressions fit better than others, and take a look at some classic recorded examples of tune sets. We will explore how to create sets of tunes for performance, ceilis, and sessions on the fly, and how to reach that “nyah’ as it is called, the lift, that drive in music when really connecting and playing with others.
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!
Tips for Playing for Dancers — Patty Furlong
Many people think that the Irish tunes they hear on CDs, concerts or at sessions are probably suitable for dancing. Some tunes maybe, but many or not. Some tunes just don’t play well for dancing or would have to be played with tempos beyond the abilities of most players. Patty shares how she decides what tunes to play for dancers and why. There are differences in the tunes she would select for a feis, a ceili and a dance performance. If you want to perform tunes for dancers, this class will give you some clear directions.
Uilleann Pipe Reed Making — Dirk Mewes
Dirk has been making reeds since 2001, and he just started selling his sets of uilleann pipes this year, having spent the last seven years learning how to make high-quality uilleann pipes. The reed-making method he teaches was taught to him by the well-known Irish pipemaker CIllian O’Brien, though he has also learned from many others, such as David Hegarty, Benedict Keohler, Jim Wenham, Tim Britton, and others. Dirk believes that all uilleann pipers should learn to make and maintain their own reeds. Even clarinet and oboe students are sometimes taught reed making, to help them make a better connection with their instruments, so it follows that serious pipers will benefit from studying at the same level. Besides, they probably don’t sell chanter reeds at your local music store. Students are encouraged to bring reed making tools if they have them. Dirk will bring some tools and reed making supplies, but he most likely does not have enough tools for everyone to use.
The Voice as an Instrument — Liz Hanley
Explore how the voice works by doing warmups targeting different parts of the body (mouth, nasal cavity, throat, chest, head) that create various tonalities, timbres, volume control and anything you could think of that an instrument can accomplish. Accessible to anyone interested in using their voice and waking up different areas that perhaps they don’t use. No previous experience as a singer or musician is required.
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.
Vocal Performance — Melinda Standefer
This class is designed to offer singers an opportunity to perform an Irish song and receive feedback. The feedback will focus on proper breathing technique and support of the voice, tone quality and maximizing vocal range/agility. It is intended for the students to come to this class vocally warmed up and ready to sing the Irish song of their choice. This class will offer 10 slots for “performing singers” and additional slots for auditors of the class who do not wish to perform.
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.
Working Up Songs from Scratch — Pat Egan
Have you ever wondered how great songs are formed? Producing a song from scratch is more than just learning its words and melody — there is a process. Pat offers some ideas on how to approach a song, e.g., finding new ways to sing old or well-known songs; finding creative ways to accompany songs through chording or perhaps picking out the melodies; working with chord voicings that enhance the feeling or the story narrative; and looking at poems and the possibility of turning them into songs.
Writing Songs in the Tradition — Ashley Davis
One of the aspects of traditional Irish music that makes it so special is its acceptance of, if not encouragement for, composing new melodies and songs. Singer and song writer Ashley Davis is a prolific composer of songs that have been added to the tradition, and she will present her thoughts on how to approach writing the verses and creating their melodies, where she goes for resources and ideas for songs, what process she follows to craft her songs. She will perform examples accompanied by her guitar.