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Introducing Bodhrán

A Group Course for Beginners

Next course starts 4 October 2018.

‘Great teacher, full of knowledge, who made the classes fun and incorporated extra teaching tools to go above and beyond.’
– T. Stephenson

Click on the tabs for information.

Course Description

The bodhrán, a wood and goatskin drum beaten with a wooden stick, is the heartbeat of traditional Irish music. Designed for absolute beginners, the Waltons New School of Music’s Introducing Bodhrán course has taught hundreds of people how to play this great Irish instrument, and by the end of the course you will have the confidence to play a variety of Irish traditional rhythms and accompany other instruments, both solo and in sessions. (See Trad Slow Sessions for more information on educational sessions held at the school.)

The course includes the following elements:

  • Holding the bodhrán
  • Holding the beater
  • Basic strokes and variations
  • Reel and jig patterns
  • Other traditional rhythms (polkas, hornpipes, slip jigs, etc.)
  • Left-hand technique and varying the pitch of your bodhrán
  • Bodhrán care and maintenance

Participating students will need to have a bodhrán (ideally 18-inch and tuneable) and beater to bring to class and to practice with at home.

Have you enrolled in this course?
Download our Introductory Handout
for tips on how to get the most from it.

Introducing Bodhrán is one of the New School’s group courses. We also offer private bodhrán lessons for students of all ages and skill levels. See Traditional • Folk • World Instruments Tuition for more information.

Techniques Covered

A video demonstration of some techniques covered in the course:

John Sweeney

John SweeneyJohn 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 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 in a range of guitar styles. John has taught guitar, bodhrán and tin whistle at the New School since 2003, and he teaches our Irish Music Tasters and guitar courses for our Outreach Programme.


‘I liked the relaxed atmosphere and encouragement. Really enjoyed and looked forward to attending each week.’
– E. Burke

‘Great people, great teacher, great fun.’
– D. Duggan

‘Great teacher!
– C. Fagan

‘I found the course great, as I had never played before and was not at all familiar with the instrument. We were eased into playing comfortably.’
– D. Flynn

‘Fantastic course – really helped me to gain confidence in playing.’
– L. Larkin

‘Highly enjoyable course. Would definitely recommend.’
– J. Ryan

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.


2018-2019 First Term Course Schedule & Fee

10 weeks, 4 October – 13 December 2018
(No class on 1 November – Mid-Term Break)
Thursdays 7 – 8 pm

Tuition Fee: €170


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. A number of our group courses fill in advance of their start dates, and early enrolment is recommended.


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


Questions about the course?


What happens after the course?

Two weeks before the end of each Introducing course, participating students will be given options for continuing their tuition at the school if they’d like to do so. Although a continuation ‘Improvers’ course cannot generally be scheduled on the same day/time as the Introducing course, one can be arranged if enough students would like to continue and the teacher has timetable availability. Students can also continue their tuition with private (one-to-one) lessons or ‘partner’ lessons with another class member (see Tuition Options – Private • Partner • Small Group Lessons). We are happy to discuss these options with you.

Introducing Bodhrán
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