Irish Music Learning


The roll and the cut:  To remember the roll you can think BCT (blow, cut, tap)


This is a list of beginning tunes that you can expect to learn at the Irish Fest School of Music.    Family-Session-Tunes


Connachtman’s Rambles (jig)  Very common session tune

The Humours of Glendart (jig) great session tune

The Shoemaker’s Fancy (jig) is a great old jig I picked up somewhere but can’t remember the source.  It’s one of those jigs that doesn’t sound like it resolves, I loves those!  

The Woodcock (jig) was composed by Hammy Hamilton, the great flute maker and player.  It is sometimes called Hammy’s #2 and played with another of his fine compositions called the Kerfunten Jig.  


Britches Full of Stitches (polka): This is a very common beginning tune, but is of course every bit as good as any other tune!  


Silver Spear (reel)   Perhaps one of the best-known tunes of all time.  Guaranteed to be played in almost any session in the world (or at least be known by every session player).

The Tarbolton Set (reels) was recorded by Michael Coleman in 1934.  This is a great set to learn, since it is known all across the world.  The three reels in the set are: The Tarbolton, The Longford Collector and The Sailor’s Bonnet.

Touch Me if You Dare (reel) has become one of my mainstays for teaching the roll.  It’s a well-known older tune that works really well on the flute and whistle. Plus, the name is great in itself, although the tune doesn’t sound nearly as threatening as the name! 

Kitty Gone A Milkin’ / The Sailor on the Rock / Scotch Mary (reels)    This has become my quintessential flute reel set.  I really like the simplicity of the tunes and the lift you get from going from tune to another.  These are tunes you can really use your breath pulsing on and they don’t need much more than that to get the nyah.


Off to California (hornpipe)  Really common hornpipe

The Plains of Boyle (hornpipe)  A great old hornpipe; pretty common everywhere


 The Nihilist Set (barn dances): Two barn dances that I found in the Music of Ireland collection (tunes from English players) about 20 years ago and still love playing together: If There Were No women in the World and If There Were No Men in the World.


Kevin Crawford

Sean Ryan

Carmel Gunning

Mary Bergin

Brian Finnegan

Laurence Nugent

Donncha O’Briain

Micho Russell

Sean Potts

Joanie Madden



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