Our take on the music
1. You have to listen to, rather than read, the music. The dots are fine for what they are but hearing the music in your head is where the learning — and the music — happens. Throw away the dots and learn the tunes by listening. If you don’t do this you’ll never get where you want to go. Ultimately, it’s about playing by ear.
2. There is no substitute for sitting at the end of the bench or at the edge of the circle and listening to other people play the tunes. You can’t really be a part of the music until you know the tunes well enough to play from memory and be humble enough sacrifice your ego to the collective voice. Which means being humble, sitting with your instrument in your lap, and knowing when not to play.
3. It takes time. To be precise, it takes 10,000 hours. In the meantime you should play slowly and make your music lovely rather than fast. I.e., slow down. It doesn’t matter who you’ve played with, who you know, or who made your instrument. Time is on your side, and, as they say, When god made time, he made plenty of it. So take your time.
4. Traditional Irish music is about melody. Rhythm is the bones of the tune. At their best, guitars, bodhrans and basoukis frame the melody. As a frame, not as the picture itself. Most of the time guitars, etc, get in the way. Musicians make melody happen; they don’t just whack chords. You have to know the melody. Which takes us back to #1.
5. It’s never too late. With the right attitude you can learn to play the pipes or the fiddle when you’re 80. All you really need is one other person to play with. Then you can slow down, work out the tune (play every note its right time) and make beautiful music. Which takes us back to #1.