Bouzouki lessons…?

Bouzouki lessons…?

I’m a bit over a year into my self-taught quest to learn Irish tunes on bouzouki. I’ve reached the point where I think I’d benefit from some one-on-one lessons: someone to observe, evaluate, critique, and hopefully give me tools to improve my right hand technique for tone, speed, ornamentation, etc. Also to provide some goals and practice discipline to approach those goals.

Problem is, I’m located in a small-ish US city not exactly known as a Mecca for Irish trad let alone bouzouki. I’ve gleaned a lot from YouTube as well as OAIM’s excellent bouzouki backup course, but again I’m ready for more personal instruction of some kind, with a focus on playing tunes. Some options I’ve considered include 1) finding a local guitar/mando teacher willing to adapt his/her teaching discipline to a related instrument [I have one possibility in mind]; 2) finding an actual bouzouki teacher willing to give lessons via Skype.

(I might add that the notion of formal instruction is pretty foreign to me - for better or worse, I’ve always been a diehard self-taught musician. But with the wisdom of age I’m coming around to admit there are other options!)

I’d welcome any suggestions from the Mustard community — how have others approached the problem of intensively learning of an instrument when local teachers for that instrument aren’t available?

And, does anyone have actual recommendations for a long-distance bouzouki tutor based on my objectives?

Thanks,
Jon

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

I pretty much parallel your situation. There are several good instructional videos on YouTube and you can’t go wrong if you take a gander at anything Daoiri Farrell is playing for chords and backing patterns plus learning a few of his tunes won’t do you any wrong either. All of that is free and that’s more than worth the price of admission. You might also want to consider purchasing Zan McLeod’s dvd/book: https://www.elderly.com/irish-bouzouki-instructional-pack.htm?___SID=U
A couple of YouTube Videos:
http://www.declanplummer.net/?page_id=68
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czclx3PMJRQ

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

Skype lessons might be a decent way to go. You might consider attending a camp with a bouzouki instructor as a good introduction. And then maybe you would be able to do Skype lessons with that same instructor. But I find that it’s best to start in person to get comfortable before switching to the less-comfortable world of internet video…

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

Eoin O’neill from ennis county Clare has just put up on fb that he’s looking to take on students. Not sure if does Skype lessons but you won’t get much better.

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

Whereabouts are you located? I recommend Jim Bunting. He’s in Enfield, CT which is near Hartford and Springfield, MA.

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

Hi Jon,

I have been giving Skype lessons this past 4 years on bouzouki, guitar and fiddle. I’ve had students from different parts of Ireland, the US and Australia.

I find it works very well and you can work around the aspects which are more suited to face to face lessons.

I’ve done a good bit of touring, recording and teaching with well known musicians and taught at various summer schools.

my email is michaelmccague@gmail.com
Let me know if you would be interested.

All the best,
Michael

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

Hi all and thanks for the great suggestions. I should have mentioned Iowa as my location - equally distant from everywhere! :)

Michael, I will be in touch!

@callison, Daoiri Farrell is a great favorite… btw did you know that on The Creggan White Hare you can sub in the lyrics from ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas?

Cheers,
Jon

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

You could look into taking a couple of lessons from Brian Miller at the Center for Irish Music in St. Paul and then transition them to Skype lessons (i.e. weekly Skype, bi-monthly in person). You could also look into who’s appearing at the Minnesota Irish Music weekend and the various summer Irish Festivals in the Midwest (Minnesota, Milwaukee). You could also look into the Irish Music School of Chicago and the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat.

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

If you’re looking to work on mostly melody playing, I’d also recommend Randy Gosa at the Milwaukee Irish Fest School of Music (http://irishfestschoolofmusic.com/Faculty/Randy-Gosa.htm). Fantastic banjo player and accompanist, and a heck of a fine teacher.

The Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School runs the week before the festival in August as well, lineup will be released soonish (http://irishfestsummerschool.com/Summer-School.htm).

I believe the Minnesota Irish Music Weekend is on hiatus for 2018.

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

OM and player here. If you are backing, switch to GDAD and get a capo. I personally wouldn’t put much effort into learning backing with a zouk/OM: DADGAD guitar is a better tool for sessions (fuller louder tone). That said, I have nothing against zouk backers and there’s lots of brilliant ones out there.

For melody, the most important thing you can do, by far, is practise tunes with a metronome. Nothing matters more than atomic-clock-regular, locked-in rhythms. Regular rhythms and clean playing is 95% of the work. Ornaments and so on will come naturally when you can easily and smoothly play at speed.

You cna get 95% of the benefit of lessons by videoing yourself. When you hear yourself play, you will immediately notice your screwups etc. But ya, lessons even via Skype excellent.

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

Great suggestion to try video. I’ve audio-recorded myself a bit but the video can potentially bring across how relaxed (or not) the right hand is.
I’ve seen both Brian and Randy in concert, and both are impressive musicians. Thanks for reminding me of options close by, Steve and jk!
Happy weekend everybody. Off to my music room…

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

I took lessons with Michael McCague and recommend him highly. I am hoping to get back to lessons Michael!

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

I am in Iowa as well (on the eastern edge) and had similar problems finding a teacher. I started out with the Zan McLeod DVD as someone else mentioned above.

I’m in Chicago quite a bit and have been able to set up a couple of in-person lessons there . I’ve also had Skype lessons with Roger Landes that were quite helpful. The drawback of Skype lessons is that it’s difficult to play in unison.

Finally the St Louis Tiniol offers a day-long bouzouki workshop most years. This year Roger Landes will be the instructor. If you have any questions please feel free to message me.

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Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

Thanks Lynn and Rando for your respective input!
I confess I was totally unaware of the St. Louis Tiniol, but it looks really good. It’s got me looking at my April calendar….

Re: Bouzouki lessons…?

I’ve just come across this thread but, if you’re not already sorted Jon, I’d also highly recommend Michael McCague. He’s based in Galway, is a superb musician and I got a lot from my set of lessons with him. Michael will definitely get you thinking more about your playing style and about developing your ear, as much as simply improving your technique. Hope this helps.