The ‘Sound’ Of The Irish – Top Tips For Tinkering Your Technique

Irish Fest 2008 Art HO Gaelicstorm“Music is an act of love.”

– Pat Higgins

Not many things in life have the ability to move and provoke emotions as suddenly and easily as music does. All it takes is the strum of that first chord, that distinguishable note or that soulful lyric to take you away from the stresses of life and capture a moment in time.

Whether you’re into heavy dance anthems, soulful motown or are blessed with an encompassing appreciation of all kinds of music, what cannot be taken away from you is the meaning and relevance that music and certain music has in your life.

Music is everywhere. From the conscious to the subconscious, the ability of musical bars to impact our lives is something we cannot escape. It’s hard to even imagine a life without its existence. Music can define a generation, it can define a culture, it can define you.

“Ireland is rich in literature that understands a soul’s yearnings, and dancing that understands a happy heart.”

– Margaret Jackson.

One of the most rewarding challenges one can take up in life is the motivation and commitment to pick up an instrument and begin to make music themselves. Cultures and continents’ all over the world have developed their own sound, style and techniques to create music that is reflective of their persona.

Take the Irish for example. A deep and rich culture drenched in political history, strong beliefs and unconditional pride. From the traditional folk classics to the mainstream pop takeover, Irish Music has a place in everyone’s heart.

It’s no surprise then that many people can’t resist the charm of Irish music as they find themselves tapping their feet, clapping their hands before picking up the fiddle, the Bodhrán and the flute.

Music is a skill like any, where practise makes perfect which is why it is always worth seeking the expert tuition of an Irish Music tutor. You can even learn from the comforts of your home with simple-to-follow online classes tailored to enhancing the musical skill set of beginners, advanced and expert.

Tips To Remember

Tip One – Learn With Your Ears, Not Your Eyes

Perfecting the basics of any musical instrument undoubtedly requires you to familiarise yourself with both the instrument and its handling. But, once you have mastered the basics, you can begin to discover just how boundless music can be. By listening to simple melodies played slowly and attempting to pick these up by ear rather than with the help of written music, you will begin to develop your musical ‘ear’ and will have a deeper understanding of the music and it’s nuances..

Tip Two – Rhythm, Rhythm, Rhythm

Traditional Irish dance music is built on rhythm. From the more complex melodies to the simpler ones, rhythm is the most important feature.  Rhythm is made through various types of articulation and ornamentation particular to each instrument.   Various tune types -Jigs, Slides, Reels, Polkas and Hornpipes all have their own unique rhythms and by learning to recognise these you will begin to develop your timing and understanding of the rhythms of Irish music.   Remember Tip one, listen!

Tip Three – Practice

The age-old method is one that cannot be rushed. Mastering your fiddle, Bodhrán or tin whistle will not happen overnight and requires patience and discipline. With the aid of a music tutor, you will be given structured classes that will ease you into perfecting the essential techniques and knowledge that is needed. Perfection is a hard concept to achieve, but with regular practice, you will only increase your chances of attaining it.

“Be yourself when playing. Don’t try to copy anyone or you’ll never really be at ease playing. Just develop your own style naturally.”

– Catherine McEvoy.

This post was written by Phil Warrington on behalf of Online Academy of Irish Music; a leading online Irish Music Tuition academy. You can learn tin whistle with OAIM who teach their students via online videos and audio lessons from some of Irelands best musicians.

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