Workshop & Class Descriptions

We had over 90 workshop participants at last year's festival. We are proud to once again feature some of the top teachers and performers in Irish music today. It's recommended that students enroll in just one class for the day however half days are available upon request. There will be an intermediate session during the lunch break. See the Register  page for fees, and to sign up.  Advanced registration strongly encouraged.

***If you are new to Irish music and dance, we encourage you to enroll in one of the classes labeled with the symbol *** which denotes a class suitable for beginners. It is recommended that you have some amount of playing experience for all other classes. Saturday workshops are intended to be a full day intensive with the same instructor. 

Click on a class below or scroll down for description: 

Saturday Workshops

April 13, 10am-3pm (Orientation 10am, Lunch break 12-1:30) at St. Michael the Archangel School, 10 Willow Ave., Baltimore, MD 21206

Visit the Register page for fee info and to sign up!

Concertina (All Levels) -- Alex Boatright 

Uilleann Pipes (All Levels) - Dan Isaacson

Guitar (Intermediate/Advanced)Sean Earnest

Guitar (Fundamentals) - Pat Egan

Piano (Intermediate / Advanced) - Donna Long

Bodhran (Intermediate / Advanced) - Josh Dukes

Bodhran (Fundamentals) - Myron Bretholz***

Songs - Liz Hanley***

Sean Nos Dance - Kelly Smit***

Saturday Lunchtime Elective: Musician Health and Wellness  - Sean McComiskey (Included with all Saturday workshop registrations)

Sunday Classes

Tune Teach -  3:15-4:45pm Zissimos on the Avenue in Hampden

Saturday Workshop Descriptions:
Button Accordion (All Levels) - Billy McComiskey

This class is designed for students of the button accordion with some prior experience. Students should at least have a working knowledge of the keyboard and basic scales. Tunes will be taught traditionally, breaking them down into easy-to-learn sections at slow and moderate tempos. Ornamentation and bass accompaniment options will be demonstrated and discussed, as well as alternate fingerings and styles of play.

Fiddle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Brian Conway

This class is designed for violinists or fiddlers already playing Irish music who want to improve technique, style and Irish tune repertoire. Ornamentation and technique will be covered and the class will learn several tunes by ear.

Fiddle (Intermediate/Advanced) - Patrick Ourceau

This class is for students able to learn a tune by ear and who have an intermediate level command of the instrument. The focus of the class will be on repertoire but more particularly on bowing, as well as ornamentation, accents and variations. Make sure to bring a recording device.

Fiddle (Fundamentals) -  Jim Eagan

This class is for violinists or fiddlers already playing a little bit of music who want to improve technique, style and Irish tune repertoire. Ornamentation and technique will be covered and the class will learn several tunes by ear.

Flute (Advanced) - John Skelton

This class covers all of the aspects of Irish flute playing – ornamentation, phrasing, breathing and rhythm. Some time will also be spent on repertoire and in developing a personal style. We will learn a few tunes and then ‘de-construct’ those tunes to help us understand different styles. Students should be proficient in playing tunes at a moderate tempo. The class is taught by ear but sheet music is available for those that need it.

Tin Whistle (Intermediate / Advanced) - Kathleen Conneely

This class is for students who are skilled enough to play tunes in a variety of rhythms (jigs, reels, etc.), with good technique and at a reasonable tempo. 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 by ear so bring a D tin whistle and a recording device. ABC notation will be provided for those who need it.

Flute/Tin Whistle (Fundamentals) - Frank Claudy

For flute and/or tin whistle players who may know a few Irish tunes, would like to improve their technique, repertoire and ornamentation and learn more about Irish Traditional music as well as flute and tin whistle styles of playing.

Uilleann Pipes  - Dan Isaacson

In this class, we will investigate the repertoire, techniques, and aesthetics of the art of uilleann piping at an intermediate/advanced level. Bring a recording device!

Tenor Banjo  -- Peter Fitzgerald

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.

Concertina  -- Alex Boatright 

This class is for students of any level. Class will cover the “hows” and “whys” of concertina playing for all levels together. Beginning students will learn the basic fingering system for the tune, intermediate students will hone their technique and ornamentation, and advanced students will learn arrangement ideas for chording and other extended techniques. All students will receive tips on how to practice at home to continue progressing and learning tunes long after class ends. 

Guitar (Intermediate / Advanced) - Sean Earnest

This class will explore approaches to the accompaniment of Irish music. Focus will be placed on rhythm, chord selection, phrasing, and right- and left-hand techniques.

Guitar (Fundamentals) - Pat Egan

This class will explore approaches to the accompaniment of Irish music with standard tuning. Focus will be placed on rhythm, chord selection, phrasing, and right- and left-hand techniques.

Piano (Intermediate / Advanced) - Donna Long

The Irish piano class this year is designed for intermediate to advanced players.  We will focus on tunes that are more difficult and have unexpected melody/chord changes.   I will be teaching a minimum of four tunes and we will talk about the different ways to make a tune interesting without detracting from the melody.  
Please bring a tape recorder and note paper.  There will be handouts of tunes.

Bodhran (Intermediate / Advanced) - Josh Dukes

In this class, we’ll go over modern stick grips, how to hold the bodhrán to achieve tonal control, the three basic contemporary stick strokes, voicing hand technique, tuning, basic jig and reel grooves and some contemporary variations, single and double-ended ornaments, posture, practice ideas, session playing, accompaniment ideas for various other tune types, and instrument and stick selection. Please bring your Bodhrán and tipper to class. Feel free to bring recording devices. All levels of player are welcome.

Bodhran (Fundamentals) - Myron Bretholz

Learn and improve your skills for accompanying jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas, and more. We will also discuss how to practice and continue improving, and how to fit in, hold your own, and positively contribute to a session or performance. Please bring your bodhran and tipper to class.

Harp - Eileen Gannon

In these workshops, we will learn a variety of Irish dance tunes, as well as a slow air if time allows. The workshops will include learning different ways of approaching both ornamentation and accompaniment for the music covered. The music will be taught by ear, and you may use an audio recording device. Video recording by students is encouraged. Sheet music may be provided by the instructor as a tool for some of the tunes learned. This class is for all levels – everyone from beginners (with some harp experience) to professionals is welcome to join us!

Songs - Liz Hanley

Songs are like stories – some are short, while others go into great detail. And if well written, you can be drawn right in. But where do you find these songs? How do you find the version that best suits you and your voice? Liz's workshop will guide you and show you by example. You will come away with great songs, fresh ideas on approach and finding the right songs, and techniques while singing and finding your voice.

Sean nós Dance - Kelly Smit

The sean nós nua dancing tradition encourages you to react to the music you love by making up rhythms with your feet. Express yourself! Learn how to balance your body and articulate your feet. Be part of the music! 
If you love joyful Irish music and always tap your toes, this is the class for you! Get up and Be happy! Please wear comfortable shoes with a smooth hard sole (leather or hard rubber soles are preferred — please no taps or fiberglass). Dancers are encouraged to bring water, a notebook, and a recording device. 

Lunch Elective (12:30-1:15pm) - Musician Health and Wellness - Sean McComiskey

Sean McComiskey, PT, DPT, will be discussing Musician Health and Wellness: Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries for Irish Traditional Musicians. The presentation will focus on the early signs and symptoms of muscular repetitive stress injuries commonly associated with musical practice and performance, and on providing practical tips for managing and preventing muscular pain and fatigue. At the end of the session, participants will have a foundational understanding of the causal mechanisms behind repetitive stress injuries, be able to identify the common signs and symptoms of repetitive stress, and will have learned stretches, exercises, and practical self-care tactics to protect themselves from future repetitive stress injuries. This class is included with your Saturday class registration. 

Sunday Class Descriptions

Song Repertoire (1:30-3pm)

Liz Hanley and David McKindley-Ward will share some beautiful songs from their wide repertoire. 

Tune Teach (3:15-4:45pm)

A great opportunity to learn some new tunes in a group setting! Two or more of our faculty musicians will teach some of their favorite selections. Open to all melody instrumentalists. (Some experience needed)