The branch have classes in music, grúpaí cheoil, ceilí bands, dancing, singing and music theory. All our classes take place on a Thursday night in St. David’s School in Artane. We offer classes for all levels from beginners to advanced in all instruments listed below and children are graded according to their musical ability. We aim to keep class size as small as possible to ensure that each student receives sufficient time with the teacher. All classes are of 30 minutes duration.
For music classes each pupil receives a copy of our Branch Music Book and this book includes a blank homework sheet. This sheet is filled in by the teachers each week and, additional supplementary sheets are available in the office. Space is allocated on the homework sheet for parents to comment/communicate with the teacher.
The instruments taught are: Tin Whistle, Fiddle, Button Accordion, Uilleann Pipes, Concertina, Banjo, Mandolin, Drums, Harp, Flute, Bodhrán and Guitar.
There is a strong tradition of dancing in the branch. Recently, Sean Nós dancing classes have been introduced and these have been enthusiastically received and are well attended. We hope to involve more children in dancing in future years and to develop group dancing in the branch.
Singing and music theory classes are also available on a Thursday night and there are many chances for students to demonstrate their singing abilities during the year.
teaching & learning
Currently the branch has a total of twenty two teachers. All are experienced musicians, many have won All- Ireland titles and are competent on a number of instruments. Both teachers and students use the Branch Music Book as the source of their teaching and learning material. This book contains a selection of common session tunes and each tune is notated using a popular easy-to-learn system entitled ABC. The emphasis, however, in traditional music is on both learning by ear and playing by ear. Students are, therefore, encouraged to bring a recording device to class in order to record the teacher playing the tune.
Selection of Musicians for group playing
We like to see as many musicians as possible participating in Grúpaí Ceoil and Céilí Bands and as early as possible we try and get new musicians involved in a grúpa ceoil. If you feel your child is at the standard and has not been approached, please come to the desk any Thursday night.
Because of the number of musicians, we may have a number of groups in a given age group. The selection of the individuals for the different groups in this situation is carried out by the teachers involved who, after listening together to all of the musicians make their selections.
Factors involved in the selection include:
- Ability to play the tunes proficiently and at the required speed.
- Instruments required for arrangements.
- Ability to play as part of a group.
- Commitment to the group and to practice.
- Conduct in group.
- Age & Availability on dates of performance
The major activity of our branch consists of the provision of music, singing and dancing classes, held each Thursday night from September to May:
- Grúpaí Ceoil
- Céilí Bands
Throughout the year we organise/participate in many musical events that offer our members opportunities to play music and to socialise with other musicians. More information is available in our weekly email newsletter.
A Grúpa Ceoil resembles a folk orchestra. It consists of a panel of approximately 20-30 musicians of which only 20 can participate in competition at any one time. Groups are categorised into age groups (Under 12, 12-15, 15-18 ) and meet each week on Thursday night to practice playing music together. Each group has its own teacher, who creates and arranges a performance piece of approximately 6-8 minutes duration of continuous playing that includes a variety of tune types and rhythms. The teacher endeavors to use creatively each of the various instruments available in the group and to give variety to the performance by alternating playing between solo and group format with melody and harmony. Grúpaí Ceoil are encouraged to include tune types not often played in sessions. Participation in a grúpa ceoil is a great way for children to make friends. We encourage all of our musicians to participate in a grúpa ceoil and presently we have five such groups in the branch, each of which is allocated a practice period every Thursday. Musicians of different abilities and different instruments can be catered for.
A Céilí Band consists of a group of a maximum of ten musicians (eight plus a piano and drummer). The emphasis is on playing reels, jigs, hornpipes, etc. at dance tempo in tight unison. In a céilí band all instruments (except the piano and drums) play the melody. The most common instruments of a céilí band are Fiddle, Flute, Accordion, Concertina, Banjo. At present, the branch has céilí bands at all age groups.