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Introducing Irish Fiddle

A Group Course for Beginners

Next course starts 18 April 2018.

‘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

The 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, the New School’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.

Participating students will need to have a violin (fiddle) to bring to class and to practice at home.


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

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.

‘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.

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2017-2018 Third Term Course Schedule & Fee

10 weeks, 18 April – 20 June 2018
Wednesdays 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.

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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.

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