Waltons New School of Music - Trad Guitar Basics Course, Dublin

Trad Guitar Basics

Group Course for Intermediate Students

Next course starts 17 January 2018.

'Good atmosphere, enthusiastic and supportive teacher, and small class size. This course helped me take another important step towards becoming a better guitar player.'
– F. MacCárthaigh


Course Description

The first known use of guitar in Irish traditional music was by the Flanagan Brothers, who used the instrument to accompany dance tunes and songs in the US during the 1920s, but it was not until the 1950s and '60s that it became popular in Irish music. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem incorporated guitar into their arrangements of Irish songs, and the use of the guitar by ballad singers became widespread during the ballad boom. Gradually the guitar became more commonly used in accompanying instrumental music, and there have been many developments in trad guitar since the 1960s. Artists such as Steve Cooney, Arty McGlynn, Denis Cahill, Paul Brady and Dick Gaughan have taken guitar playing in many interesting directions, developed unique styles, experimented with alternative tunings and absorbed a wide range of different influences, including jazz, rock and world music.

Waltons New School of Music's Trad Guitar Basics course provides an extensive introduction to the form and how to play it. The course covers the following elements:

  • Chord shapes and strum patterns
  • Bass runs and chords
  • Using the capo
  • Combining chords and single-note playing
  • Alternative chords and variation
  • Standard and alternative tunings

Along the way participants will be introduced to the major guitarists and styles through listening sessions and practical examples.

A demonstration of some of the techniques covered in the course:

Although this course is an introduction to traditional guitar, it is not a course for guitar beginners. (Go to Introducing Guitar for Adults or Introducing Guitar for Teens for information on our beginners courses.) Participants in the Trad Guitar course should have at least one year’s playing experience, be able to read guitar tablature and have a good grasp of basic open-position chords as well as standard barre chord fingerings. Changing from one chord to another should not be a problem.

Trad Guitar Basics is one of our group courses. Private, partner, group and intensive lessons in Irish traditional guitar and other guitar styles are also available. Go to Departments & Faculty – Guitar & Bass for more information.

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 Comments from Students

'John is an excellent instructor who has time for each student. This ensures that whatever issues the student has are ultimately dealt with successfully.'
– T. Byrne

'Great course and tuition. Keep up the good work!'
– F. Denny

'Very enthusiastic and able teacher. Go raibh maith agat!'
– D. Dodd

'The course tutor is excellent and also very flexible. He knows how to bring someone up to speed if they fall behind in class. Very enjoyable as well as instructive.'
– T. Dredge

'John is a master of many styles of guitar playing – Irish traditional, flamenco, jazz, rock, you name it – and his enthusiasm for all kinds of music is infectious. This series of classes was very informative and fun to attend, and it gave me the basis for practise and improvement over the coming months. I enjoyed them greatly.'
– M. Holmes

'A fresh, interesting approach. Lots of very useful styles, chords, etc.'
– P. Kelly

'Fantastic teacher with stellar enthusiasm.'
– K. McElhinney

'Really enjoyed the course and John – he is a wealth of knowledge!'
– L. Page

'After each session I left with a smile on my face because I'd learned something new. Thank you very much and see you for another course.'
– M. Pardelinha

Have you taken – or are you taking – this course? We would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to give us your feedback in a brief online questionnaire about it.

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 John Sweeney, Teacher

John comes from a musical family and has been studying and playing guitar and bass, as well as a range of Irish traditional instruments, for over thirty years. He works in many different styles, including blues, rock, jazz, traditional and flamenco, and he has performed and recorded with a number of Irish groups, gigging extensively throughout Ireland, Canada, the UK, the US and Spain. He began teaching in 1988 at the Scarborough School of Guitar in Toronto, Canada, where he also studied composition and flatpick technique. He has also studied flamenco guitar with Miguel Escudero Lopez in Seville, Spain and traditional music at St. Enda’s Folk Park & Museum, and he continues to develop techniques of both melody and rhythm accompaniment for Irish music. John has taught at the New School since 2003 and also teaches outreach guitar courses in our In-School Music Programme.

Listen to John playing a slip jig and three reels (all his own compositions):

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 2017-2018 Second Term Course Schedule & Fee

10 weeks, 17 January – 21 March 2018
Wednesdays 6.30 – 7.30 pm

Tuition Fee: €170

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Enrolment for this course requires a completed Enrolment Form and full payment of the course fee. Places are limited to eight, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date of enrolment. Most of our group courses are fully booked well in advance of their start dates, so early enrolment is recommended.

Purchasing this course as a gift? Please complete a Gift Certificate Booking Form.

Located in Dublin city centre, Waltons New School of Music is a comprehensive music centre, combining music tuition of the highest standard with innovative approaches to music education. The New School offers tuition in the broadest range of instruments and subjects of any music school in Ireland, for students of all ages, levels and abilities.

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© 2017 Waltons New School of Music
  • 69 South Great George's Street Dublin 2 Ireland 
  • Phone: +353 1 478 1884
  • Fax: +353 1 475 1346
  • Email: info@newschool.ie
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