irish accordion teachers in Boston

irish accordion teachers in Boston

I’ve got a pupil playing a C#/D accordion, beginner, but hard working , and quite passinate !- who’ll be going to Boston, Mass. next april. I’d like to know how he can continue learning. I’m quite sure there must be box players and teachers in the area. I’t would be great if I could get a few names and adresses I could give him.

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Hi Nikita,

The Boston area is full of musicians representing every generation and a lot of styles. Johnny O’Leary is a lovely C#/D player though he has always seemed very modest about wanting to teach. You might get to hear him at the Burren pub in Somerville playing for sets or in the sessions (gigs). Joe Derrane is a legendary recording and touring artist, known for his unique D/C# playing, but I have heard he also can teach the B/C and C#/D.

Noel Scott mostly played the B/C when I was living there but in recent years he seems to have been playing as much or more C#/D and again he’s a great player and a great guy. I’m sure more excellent musicians have moved to town since I left and am sorry if I have forgotten anyone here. Oh, Fergus Keane also who plays for the CCE and other dances.

There are also many excellent B/C players, many of whom teach, and any of whom could offer help on fingering and general accordion skills to a student whose mind is flexible enough to transpose.

If your student enjoys and respects the single-row melodeon styles (as many C#/D players do and all should), I’m sure he will enjoy listening to and learning from John Gannon who still played the Burren on Sundays last I heard. John has a new cd out by the way and is a very inspiring musician.

In a similar vein there are still a few really nice players (beyond Joe Derrane) of the D/C# style that seems to have dominated the Boston area before the influx of B/C (and C#/D) in the 1950s. I especially love Jack Conroy’s beautiful rhythm and his classic settings of new and some very unusual tunes, many of which could be played just on the D row of a C#/D. You might see him at any session around town playing flute or his Walters D/C#, but look for him at the Green Briar.

Finally of course your student may learn as much or more from fiddlers, flute players, dancers etc and all the variety of traditional music that is so well supported all over town. It’s hard making a living from music anywhere and I remember we could always find reason to complain but you only have to move to somewhere else with much less cultural support for the music to learn that Boston is very special.

Paul

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Hi Paul !
thanks a lot for all the information. I’ll transfer all that to Etienne (that’s my student !). do you buy the way have names and dates of places where he can find regular sessions, ceilis and so on ? but maybe he can look in this site too…
I didn’t know Joe Derrane was in the area. that’s one of the sole box cd we can find in switzerland in the shops. heard him in France a few years ago. A tremendous player, even if my own taste goes more towards Dermot Byrne…

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

I’m not an accordion player, and don’t have much to add to Paul’s excellent post except a couple of things:
*John Gannon’s son Sean is also a marvelous accordionist — a friend of mine studied under him and said he was tremendously helpful not just for what he taught about playing the box but about approaching the music in general.
*Here’s the Web site for the Boston Comhaltas branch, http://www.comhaltasboston.org/, which will have info about classes, workshops, other events that I’m sure will be of interest.
*Is your student going to be in Boston just for the summer or for a longer period? Reason I ask is that some of the regular sessions may be a little IRregular during June-August, what with people away on vacations or performing at festivals and what-not, so he may not necessarily get the fullest experience. Still, there will be plenty of weekly activity for him to enjoy. Boston area sessions have been noted before on this site, but I’ll throw out a few for starters:
The Green Briar, Brighton, Monday nights
The Skellig, Waltham, Tuesday nights
The Brendan Behan, Jamaica Plain, Saturday afternoons from 4-7:30.
PJ Ryan’s, Somerville, Sunday nights

Your student should also keep an eye and ear out for the Irish Connections Festival, which takes place south of Boston; it’s usually been in June but I understand it’s now going to happen in August.

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Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Nikita,

See the post by sts, but mainly I’m sure your student will pick up on the local scene by stopping in to a session or two and meeting musicians of the style and level that is most appropriate. "One man’s meat is another man’s…." even within the tent of traditional music. It won’t be hard to find sessions and having found some, to find the others that are even more suitable. Some of the best music to be heard (not forgetting the Burren, already mentioned) is in small places where you would want to know the musicians before expecting to join.

sts,

Of course I would never have omitted my good friend Sean Gannon except he plays B/C (exclusively when I have had tunes with him). To list by name all the good B/C players and teachers of Boston would be another long post! As far as I know, the Comhaltas accordion classes are all B/C.

Paul

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Just to confirm what Paul said about Noel Scott: he has gone over to C#/D and he is a great player. He does take students: I had a lesson from him, and IMO he’s a very good teacher. Nice bloke too!

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Mr. Derrane, as of two years ago when I was looking for a teacher, had more students than he could handle. Not surprising, since the man is a living legend (although also one of the most humble musicians I have ever meant, truly a fine man).
I can attest to Mr. Scott’s playing ability, having heard him in sessions, he is an awsome player, and I am sure would be a fine teacher as well.

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Hi there,

Just to throw out another name you might consider, look up Dan Gurney too. He’s a student over at Harvard right now, but he’s remarkable box player in his own right, and always up for students last I heard. I think he placed third in the All Irelands last year, so he’s no slouch.

James.

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

HI everyone… and lots of thanks.
I gather my student will actually stay in Boston quite a while… I thinks he’ll be working for the MIT doing research.
I didn’t know there were so many B/C players in New England. Here in Europe, people outside ireland seem to prefer C#/D, or even D/C# (inner row in C#). But I thimk for Etienne it will be okay : I myself don’t play C#/D : I play a 3 row-18 bass button accordion, more near to the swiss button accordion), and I play one row melodeon. I play a lot of irish, scottish, quebec tunes on the 2 instrument. Then my student is quite used to learn with another system…

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Well, Paul, I guess I need to learn the ABCs — or rather the B/C, C#/Ds — of accordiona! *wink*

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Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

sts,

But you’re right, I bet this guy could learn a lot from Sean despite the different system.

Nikita,

I have a cd of traditional Swiss music sent over by my wife’s Swiss friend. It’s great! Hope to hear some if we come over there someday to study gentians.

BTW there doesn’t seem to be a way to edit posts here, which is bad for me since I type in stream of consciousness. For some reason when mentioning Jack Conroy I wrote "new" instead of "popular or common" tunes. I meant that he has both familiar tunes and very unique ones (but some of the unique ones are actually old settings). Oh well. I wish he could be recorded because his accordion style is really classic.

Paul

Re: irish accordion teachers in Boston

Paul,
thanks a lot.
If you come to study gentians - I think we have quite a lot of different species in the alps… some of which are distilled into all kinds of very tipsy products, just let me know ! I’ll introduce you a bit more to swiss music (french swiss trad tunes can be very near to some irish tunes, specially the montferrines, that are structured like jigs), and we could session together. We have a few good groups like Elandir around Lausanne. and our sessions are becoming quite nice !
thanks again and very good music for the new year (or is it ear ?)