OUR EDUCATION PROGRAMMES
Passing on the tradition of Irish culture is what we do. If you’re interested in learning about Irish traditional music or just want to validate the skills you have already honed, we probably have a programme that you would enjoy.
Of course, like every other form of learning, as a student you will experience the benefits of a class or summer school programme in direct proportion to the work that you put into it. None of us are immune from the need for practice, more practice, and then even more practice!
It’s worth it, though. The Irish tradition can be incredibly rewarding to join; there are very few pastimes that will offer such a lifetime of pleasure.
Programmes such as the Craobh Chualann “Focal ar Fhocal” initiative help to bring the Irish language into the everyday life of Comhaltas. We strive to keep our activities and publications bilingual wherever practically possible, and along with our friends at Foras na Gaeilge believe that Irish is a crucial and enriching part of the national heritage. The Comhaltas.ie website, for example, can be read entirely in Irish using the Gaeilge link at the top of each page. We also co-operate with other Irish Language bodies in the propagation of Ireland’s national language. If you have an interest in the language, you might enjoy browsing through some poetry and story examples from our Comhrá Gaeilge competitions.
We offer hundreds of classes a week in a variety of traditional instruments, singing and dance. These classes are offered on a term-by-term basis by the local branches of Comhaltas — you might want to find your local branch. Many branches offer instrument rentals or loans if you are just starting out, especially if you want to learn a particularly expensive instrument such as the Uillean Pipes or Harp.
Summer programmes (such as the Scoil Éigse and the Meitheal Residential Music Summer School) offer you an intensive chance to improve your performances through workshops, lectures, master classes and lessons. The pace can be tiring, but our students come back year after year because of the unique chance to learn from the greats of Irish music.
Many of our branches offer regular music sessions. These sessions, sometimes graded at a “slow” or “moderate” pace for learners, can be a great way to hear the music in the social context it was designed for. In addition to being a lot of fun, playing in sessions regularly will improve your ear dramatically, sometimes without you being aware of it! To find a session near you, use the branches page of our website to find your local branch of Comhaltas - many of the branches that you find will be able to point you toward a local gathering of musicians.
Sometimes it really makes sense to write things down. Our popular Foinn Seisiún tunebooks and accompanying CDs, for example, compile some of the most popular Irish traditional tunes into session-ready sets. We also offer instrumental tutors, branch tunebooks and other popular music books designed to help jump-start your knowledge. Of course, there’s no substitute for a good teacher, but books and recordings can expand your repertoire and cement the tunes already in your head.
If you think that you’re ready to be evaluated, we offer the SCT Exams, a 12-level evaluation scale of proficiency not just in performance, but also in the theory, history and ornamentation of Irish traditional music. In these exams you prepare selections appropriate to your grade (from our SCT syllabus and an adjudicator evaluates your playing and knowledge. In the upper grades, you will also submit a written essay. All enquiries concerning the SCT Exams should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you already have significant experience as a music teacher, you might be interested in our TTCT Teacher Diploma Course. This week-long course/examination will reinforce your instrumental knowledge with an in-depth look at music theory and history, along with teaching technique and pedagogy. You will be evaluated on your teaching ability in a real-world classroom environment and on your submission of an essay exam. Teachers passing the course are awarded the TTCT Diploma, identifying you as one of the premier teachers of traditional music.
We’ve developed a course in performance skills for traditional music, song, and dance in co-operation with FÁS and Fetac. This course gives you the opportunity to have your performance skills recognised by a prestigious national and international certification. This programme is hosted at the Brú Ború Cultural Centre in Cashel, Co. Tipperary.
We maintain a full schedule of educational events, such as the annual Tionól. We also provide lectures, exhibitions, workshops and concerts, sometimes in conjunction with the Fleadhanna Cheoil.