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Introducing Irish Fiddle

A Group Course for Beginners

Next course starts 1 May 2019.

‘When Charles II had come to the throne, one of his first acts was the bringing over to England a band of 24 fiddlers, each a prodigy in his own way, but immeasurably inferior to their leader Baltzar. This man performed such marvels on the four slender strings of the violin that an honest gentleman of the period suggested his identity with Satan and seriously examined his feet in the expectation of finding them cloven.’
– Francis O’NeillIrish Minstrels and Musicians (1913)

‘Introducing Fiddle was a really enjoyable course. All of the tunes I learned were broken down and made easy to learn and pick up. The teacher was extremely helpful, accommodating and approachable, and this gave me the confidence in going on to learn the fiddle.’
– C. Finn

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Course Description

Introducing Irish FiddleThe Irish fidil (the name derives from Vitula, the Roman goddess of victory and jubilation) has existed in one form or another for nearly a thousand years. It is not clear precisely what kind of instrument the early fiddles were, and today’s fiddle is actually a classical violin, introduced here from Italy around the middle of the sixteenth century – although the way it is held and the methods of playing it are very different. In any case the fiddle is arguably the most widely-used instrument in the performance of traditional music.

Designed for absolute beginners, Waltons New School of Music’s Introducing Irish Fiddle course introduces students to the basics of playing this subtle and demanding instrument – holding, bowing, fingering, etc. – and guides them through the main forms of traditional music (jigs, reels, hornpipes, airs, etc.), including some of their many variations. Regional and individual playing styles will also be covered, giving the student an important first source of repertoire.

Course participants will need to have a full-size violins (fiddles) and shoulder rests to bring to class and practice with at home. (See below for a Course + Instrument Package available to enrolling students.)

This course covers Stage 1 of the New School’s ten-stage system of student progress and assessment, which culminates in a teaching or performing qualification (Stage 10) should the student progress that far. Participants who successfully complete the course can be issued with a certificate of completion of Stage 1. If you are taking the course, please let the school office know if you would like this certificate. See About Our Stage System for more information.

Course + Instrument Package

In association with Waltons Music Ireland, the New School also offers a discounted Course + Instrument Package that provides students entering this course who don’t already have instruments with everything they’ll need. The package includes the course plus a Valencia V160 Violin Outfit, comprising a violin, bow, hard case and rosin (regular price €99.95), as well as a Wolf Forte Secondo Shoulder Rest (regular price €36.95), both available to pick up from the school office on the day of your first class, for a reduced ‘package’ price (see Course Schedule & Fees tab). You should purchase this Course + Instrument Package at least two weeks before the first class in order to ensure availability of your instrument before the course begins.

Have you enrolled in this course?

Download our Introductory Handout
for tips on how to get the most from it.

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

Aoife Desmond

Aoife DesmondAoife began playing music at an early age. She received a Higher National Diploma in Traditional Music Performance from Ballyfermot College of Further Education, where she studied under the direction of Paul McGrattan and was taught by renowned musicians such as Michelle O’Brien and Paul Kelly. She also completed a TTCT Diploma teacher training course with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Aoife has been teaching fiddle and tin whistle for over ten years and teaches in numerous schools around Tallaght and west Dublin, at Áras Chrónain (where she was musical director in 2012-2013), at Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and at the Des Carty School of Music. She has worked with a number of youth projects through the Des Carty School of Music, for which she composed music for traditional youth ensembles and performed in arts centres around West Dublin, and she also facilitates music workshops for young children in schools, libraries and arts centres throughout Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow. Aoife is a regular session musician and performer around Dublin and her home county of Kerry. She not only plays traditional Irish music but has broadened her repertoire to include playing and performing with rock and folk rock bands such as India9Nine.

Sarah Flynn

Sarah FlynnSarah is an Irish traditional musician and visual artist based in Dublin. She began playing the concertina at an early age under the tuition of Aoife O’Connor and Noel Hill, and she later took to the fiddle. Sarah has a keen interest in concertina and fiddle music from County Clare, citing Noel Hill and Bobby Casey as major influences. Her playing is also shaped by musicians from other regional styles, including Ella Mae O’Dwyer, Jesse Smith and Cormac Begley. Having studied these musicians, among others, she has developed a unique and innovative style of concertina and fiddle playing, and she has subsequently passed her love and knowledge of Irish traditional music to many students both in Ireland and abroad over the last number of years, including tuition at Ceoltoírí Chluain Tarbh and master classes at the Willie Clancy Summer School. Sarah is noted as solo performer; she regularly plays in a duet with Doireann Glackin and has toured with Dublin band Skipper’s Alley. Recent performances include Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica, Bologna, Fleadh TV, supporting act for Martin Hayes and Denis Cahill, Tunes in the Church and Milan Expo.


‘The tuition was excellent. I learned a lot in a positive and pleasant way.’
– D. Brennan

‘I really enjoyed this course. In such a short space of time I feel I have learned loads, and I look forward to improving.’
– L. Butler

‘A great teacher who offers excellent tuition catered around each individual student’s needs. One of the best.’
– A. Carroll

‘Fiddle is a tough instrument to start as a beginner, and this course shows that it’s actually manageable! The teacher is really nice and helpful and patient.’
– R. Charifou

‘I was over 50 and wanted to learn to play the fiddle, so I signed up for my first set of classes (10). I nervously attended my first class in Waltons, and I needn’t have worried. The admin staff were so welcoming and light hearted and made me feel at ease. My class teacher has a very natural way of teaching; she is so patient and encouraging and there is a relaxed atmosphere in the class. I will be starting my sixth set of sessions with Waltons at Easter.’
– M. Ferns

‘Truly amazed at how far I have gone in such a short period. At Christmas I couldn’t even hold a fiddle, but I was playing tunes by St. Patrick’s Day!’
– P. Hogan

‘The teacher was excellent, very encouraging and with endless patience.’
– M. McCluskey

‘I didn’t expect to be able to play seven tunes after only ten weeks. This was a fantastic introductory course that covered the basics perfectly….’
– M. McGoldrick

‘Great fun, great teacher, great group and a great skill learned!’
– J. McShane

‘Aoife is a very patient teacher. She moves the class at just the right pace to push you forward, but she doesn’t leave anyone behind.’
– C. Nally

‘I really enjoyed the course and have signed up for the continuation group. I found the delivery of lessons very effective and benefited hugely from them.’
– P. Needham

‘[A] very patient teacher, and I really enjoy her classes. She moves at a steady pace, neither too slow nor too fast, and uses a variety of teaching methods. It’s amazing to see how much we have progressed in such a short time.’
– N. Owens

‘The course was great. The 10 weeks flew by, and I can’t believe how much we learnt in that time.’
– D. Robertson

‘When I took music lessons as a child I hated the regimen of scales, etc. with no tunes. In ten weeks I can play five tunes that folks can recognise.’
– N. Traynor

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 Third Term Course Schedule & Fees

9 weeks, 1 May – 26 June 2019
Wednesdays 7.30 – 8.30 pm

Teacher: Sarah Flynn

Tuition Fee: €180
Course + Instrument Package Fee: €290 (savings: €26.90)


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.

Trad Slow Sessions

Trad Slow SessionsParticipants in this course are also welcome to attend our Trad Slow Sessions. These are traditional Irish music sessions in all ways except one: the tempo. We play the session tunes at a slower than normal pace (often less than half the speed), so that beginning and intermediate players can more easily learn the tunes and join in the session. Trad Slow Sessions take place once a month on Friday evenings.

See Trad Slow Sessions for more information, a list of current tunes and 2018-2019 dates.

Irish Fiddle on YouTube

Introducing Irish Fiddle
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