concertina at scoil eigse

concertina at scoil eigse

does anyone know who the concertina teacher at scoil eigse is this year? i originally was going to be busy during that time of day, but now it looks like i’ll be free. thanks!

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Re: concertina at scoil eigse

why, does it matter?

Re: concertina at scoil eigse

well, i’m hoping it’s micheál ó raghallaigh. if he’s not teaching, i would try to track him down to see if he could give me a private lesson. he has a very different approach and i would just like to see his take on the concertina.

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Re: concertina at scoil eigse

There are around ten teachers and they grade you into a class they think is right for you. Older people often get stuck in the same class together. When I was there I was the only person over 13 in my class, the only male, and the worst player. I wanted Micheal, but got Maura Walsh and they were right, she was great and I got a lot out of it. I recorded Micheal’s class one day (left the recorder in there) and listened back later. It was very non prescriptive and I would have been floundering.

Micheal teaches the whizz kids, usually a big class. Hard to imagine getting an individual lesson, but asking is free and a good sign…

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Re: concertina at scoil eigse

Why do adults insist on doing the Scoil Eigse classes? All the classes are geared toward whizz kid teenagers. Thats really all Comhaltas cares about. There are plenty of good adult classes at other summer schools that welcome both adults and children.

Re: concertina at scoil eigse

So they can drop names??

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Re: concertina at scoil eigse

@cag: Thanks for the input. That will help me figure out what to do. I am more interested in seeing Micheál’s overall approach (notes chords he tends to use, his different style of crannsp) than getting much individual attention. I am glad you got what you needed! So if I end up with someone else, I’m sure I’ll still learn something useful to take home with me.

@mariaphilmurphy: I want to go to gain perspective. Two weeks before Scoil Éigse I will be spending a week with another famous concertina player from Ireland, where I will be very welcome, learn a lot, and get individualized attention.
So, no big loss to me if comhaltas thinks I’m not a whiz kid (I’m too bald for that, lol).

I am American, and there are not a lot of concertina players out here at the professional level to learn from, so Scoil Éigse is a perfect place to find people whose approach is entirely different than mine. So, I want to go to Scoil Éigse to expose myself to different styles, not to name drop as wounded implies.

I would say by now that my style is very much locked in to my teacher’s, but I like to gain perspective in the mechanics of other styles. I like to borrow here and there in my playing from different players, and Micheál’s is so unique that there has to be several things he does that I will end up doing myself.

The final reason I want to go to Scoil Éigse is to meet people. I have never been to Ireland before, and it would be nice to be involved. My music school is renting a house in Cavan, and I have to buy in for the whole week, so might as well have some fun while I’m there!

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Re: concertina at scoil eigse

we never stop learning.
Daiv, if you want to go to Scoil Eigse,I do not see why you should be criticised for so doing.
I hope you have a good holiday in Ireland, and I hope you get Michael for a tutor, and that it helps you.

Re: concertina workshops

Being a "wizz-kid", I managed to get into a couple of Mcheal’s workshops (not at scoil eigse), and picked up a lot from watching and listening.

He isn’t a - I’ll play two bars - you play two bars - teacher. You are expected to watch, listen and not noodle.

If you can’t pick up bits of his style from listening to his cds first, I don’t know whether you would benefit much from a workshop.

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That does not sound much like teaching, or even good teaching. A good player is not necessarily a good teacher

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@wild boy: thanks! i was originally supposed to take an exam while i was in ireland (via email), but it looks like i can reschedule and relax.

@geoff: i think i would benefit a lot. in a week, personally, i could probably learn most of his approach to the concertina. by that i mean his fingering approach for melody notes, chords, and ornamentation.

i would also benefit from watching how he physically achieves all the sounds you can hear on his cd. to me, it is nice to know fingering, but even better to know technique. when i watch a player, i notice finger placement, bellows control, arm angles, etc. maybe most people don’t really care about all that stuff, but i think that if you listen to any player with unique sound, you will find a very particular way of controlling the instrument.

it might take a while to work it all out on my own, and even more time to synthesize it all into my style. but, i’m fairly confident that i could get a lot more out of it than popping in one of his cd’s.

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Re: concertina at scoil eigse

@mariaphilmurphy Because no-one tells you when you are from across the oceans that the classes are almost exclusively for kids. It says nothing of this on the website.

@ daiv
I had the experience a few years ago of getting a couple of very conventional lessons off someone who had learned from Micheal. After only a couple of hours I could understand about 70% of what Micheal was doing, up from about 15%, because she was doing it too. On the other hand, I have since sat with Micheal twice for a couple of hours, just the two of us, while he played solo, and I picked up almost nothing. Great experience though… I did get some feeling of the physicality of his playing, how he sat, how much force he used, etc…

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Re: concertina at scoil eigse

[Why do adults insist on doing the Scoil Eigse classes?] gee, perhaps you should ask the scoil people why they insist on luring people who sincerely wish to study irish music from irish master teachers into investing hard-to-come-by funds and precious and scarce free time in this experience by proclaiming that everyone is welcome at a remotely located and very expensive to attend program. the question is uncalled-for. i don’t mean people should automatically get the teacher of their choice, but the question is in poor taste given the way this program (and other, similar events) bills itself.


[Because no-one tells you when you are from across the oceans that the classes are almost exclusively for kids. It says nothing of this on the website.] exactly. and i do believe it has been specifically asked, with the program representatives replying with the usual "everyone is welcome."

Re: concertina at scoil eigse

what’s a "scoil people"?

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"scoil people," i.e., the folks who run or help put on the scoil. i actually have always thought it sounded like a nifty experience and am a fan of some of the core local master players/teachers, who are the ones i’d love to have some up-close time around, as opposed to marquee-name guest tutor types, but to each his own. but it also sounds like a big investment given that it seems like one of the fests you pretty much have to rent a car for the week to fully experience….in the post-crash era, festivals located such that one can enjoy the classes, sessions, and concerts within walking distance without the horror of a week’s irish car rental, are pretty much a necessity to this particular foreign student……

Re: concertina at scoil eigse

if anyone’s interested in the update: i couldn’t make scoil éigse, but i had a great hour and a half lesson with micheál early in the week. we went over everything i was interested in. i even got to try his suttner! he tried my carroll, too.

i really am glad that micheál could find the time for me during the busy festival schedule, because it was very worthwhile.

overall the lesson was very conversational, with a lot of back and forth. i cannot relate to cag’s comment of a one-sided lesson, as for mine it was not just micheál playing. i played first, then he played with me. after that, we interspersed our conversation and analysis of technique by us playing together and separately. this allowed more topics to naturally arise, jogging my memory of questions and giving micheál opportunity to watch my attempts at applying his comments.

some of the things we talked about were:

double octaves - this made it worth it for me. i play double octaves, but we workshopped a couple tunes to see his approach. i can double below or above the melody, but it was really helpful to see WHEN he chose to octave above or below, how he rearranged tunes to fit the octave fingering, and how he used is +30 buttons to get some cool triplets in double octaves.


handstraps and palm angle - he was bracing his concertina differently than me, which resulted in different tension. i have a different hand shape, but it still is helping to grab a bit of stability with the heel of my thumb.

alternate fingers - i am not a big user of the accidental row (alternate) pull G or push A on either side of the instrument. i gave them up a long time ago, but we went over interesting ways to intersperse them back into my playing. he was not concerned that they were missing, per se, as i could use them in the chords he showed me. i just get bored, so i like to have alternate fingerings to keep me on my toes.

ornamentation - nothing too much new here, just his particular flavor or habits. one typical example: if he uses both first and third finger A in a crann of A on the left side, he starts and ends on the first finger. i start and ending on the third finger. i’ll probably end up using this and other subtle variations in conjunction with how i already do things.

anyways, just wanted to set the record straight and offer an update for anyone looking for it. i think that scoil éigse might be more beneficial for a lot of people than a private lesson, because you have a full week to learn and absorb. that is true for nay tutor. i went in with very specific things i wanted to discuss and learn, which is always helpful when you have a one-off lesson with a great player, especially when you’re still open to let things drift and happen as they may.

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