Upcoming Classes Celebrate Irish Music & Dance

Irish Set Dancing in Open House near the Folk School Vegetable Garden

Do you love the sounds of Irish music? Do you dream of playing a reel or dancing a jig? We have some great upcoming classes to immerse you in the spirit of Ireland! Gain confidence to join in the fun of traditional Irish music and dance in your community and abroad.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day is the wildly fun weekend class, Irish Set Dancing. If you are familiar with American square dancing, Irish set dancing is like the Celtic cousin waving from across the Atlantic. Both Irish set dancing and square dancing are descendants of quadrilles, so they are a little similar. Jim Morrison is an excellent teacher who will break down the moves and figures patiently and clearly. The music is jumpin’ and lively and will keep you in the St. Patty’s spirit for the rest of March.

Anglo concertina (left), bodhrán (right)

Two upcoming music classes,  Get a Good Start on Concertina! and Bodhrán: Intro to Irish Drumming will introduce you to an Irish instrument, even if you are a complete beginner. Like an accordion, a concertina is a bellow-driven, free reed instrument. The Anglo concertina (which is shaped like a hexagonal box with buttons) is the specific instrument Aaron Olwell will be teaching in his class. Students will learn to play melodies and chords and to learn tunes by ear. A bodhrán (pronounced bow-rawn) is a handheld drum beaten with a tipper, a short wooden stick. The bodhrán is always played vertically, resting on the musician’s knee. Instructor Andrew Kruspe will focus on instrument background and practical application, giving student a good balance of historical and cultural, along with lots of playing time. Both classes cover fundamentals, Irish rhythms, and will give you the confidence to join in a beginning Irish music session in your town.

Fiddling in the Music Studio

Already play the fiddle and looking to expand your repertoire to include Irish tunes and rhythms? Tom Morley’s intermediate weekend class, Irish Fiddle: Intro to Fun Irish Trad Tunes, will provide the tools, skills, and tip to play Irish-style music. We also have a Folk Harp Gathering week-long class led by Lorinda Jones & Sue Richards geared toward continuing and intermediate harpists who want to gather, share, play and learn together. This class is during Scottish Heritage Week, but this beautiful, fairytale-like sounding instrument has its roots in ancient Celtic culture, trickling down to both Scottish and Irish cultures.

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March of the Fiddlers

sue conger fiddle class

When students show up at an Intermediate-level fiddle class, they already know how to play some tunes — maybe some fast ones, maybe some waltzes; tunes learned from a friend or teacher or family member, tunes laboriously acquired from a scratchy old recording, or tunes read out of a tunebook. But it’s pretty much a sure thing that those students don’t all know the same tunes as one another. One of the things we do as a class is learn a common repertoire, starting with whatever tune I teach on the first evening. That first tune is always something uncomplicated so that students weary from a day of travel can easily locate it under their fingers and bow. Continue reading March of the Fiddlers

We Welcome Ted Cooley as the Folk School Music and Dance Program Coordinator

We are so happy to welcome Ted Cooley as our Music and Dance Coordinator. Ted has an illustrious history with the Folk School. He’s twice served as a host, and then settled in the area to help launch our JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) Program in 2005. He taught and served as the JAM Program coordinator for 8 years. Ted has taught over 40 Folk School classes over the years. He served as the Nature Studies Resident Artist, and is currently the Storytelling Resident Artist. I talked to Ted about his experience in the Folk School community, and his thoughts on returning as the Music and Dance Coordinator. Enjoy our interview!

CP: What originally brought you to the Folk School?

TC: Like so many of us, I found out about the Folk School by happening upon a catalog, and I was amazed that you could study so many different things at one place! At the time, I was a graduate student at ETSU and I immediately decided to take a break from my studies and apply for the Host position. The rest (as they say) is history.

CP: What’s it like returning to the Folk School as a full-time employee?

TC: It has been wonderful reconnecting with the greater Folk School community! Though I have been teaching in Virginia, it feels, in many ways, as though I never left. One of the magical qualities of the Folk School is that you always feel at home here.

Ted playing a fiddle tune outside the History Center.

CP: What are the strengths of the music and dance program at the Folk School? What are you excited to bring to the table?

TC: The Folk School is unique in regard to the amount of programing offered in music and dance. There are weekly opportunities for folks to study a wide variety of musical instruments and dance styles. There are also opportunities for the larger community to attend live concerts and participate in weekly dances at the Keith house. There is always something being offered!

I have a deep love for traditional music and dance. During the last few years my social life revolved around playing music at weekly jams and going to dances around the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I also enjoy running sound and coordinating events. One of the advantages that I have in my new role is that I have been working for the Folk School for many years. I have been a host twice, been a Resident Artist and Recreation Leader for our youth programs. I not only have met a lot of artists connected with the School, but these opportunities have also given me a unique perspective that I feel will be helpful during my tenure here! Continue reading We Welcome Ted Cooley as the Folk School Music and Dance Program Coordinator

Night Hoots & Morningsongs, Vol. 2

We have a new CD, hot of the presses: Night Hoots & Morningsongs, Vol. 2! The 21-track compilation features a variety of musical selections by local musicians in a diverse array of genres representing the diversity and eclectic flair of the Folk School. Much of the compilation honors multi-generational families that have two or three generations of family members playing music and singing together. CDs are available in the Folk School Craft Shop. Continue reading Night Hoots & Morningsongs, Vol. 2

Try Your Hand at Ukulele

Join Peter Thomas on September 17-23 and learn how to make your ukulele sing. This introductory class is appropriate for beginners and intermediate alike. Even though the class description says level one, students who already have a little experience are welcome and will certainly have fun and advance their playing skills by taking the class. The class is always great fun.

Enjoy a video of a previous class made by Peter’s teaching assistant Dave Peters – as the class performed “The Brasstown Polka,” an original song by Dave:

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