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Irish Music Tasters

Waltons New School of Music

Are you visiting Ireland?
Would you like to play real Irish music rather than just listen to it?
Would you like to bring something back that is genuinely Irish?

Designed for absolute beginners of all ages and running since 1999, our Irish Music Tasters for individuals and groups are brief immersions in the world of Irish traditional music and have introduced hundreds of people from all over the world to its beautiful melodies and infectious rhythms. We offer Bodhrán Tasters, Tin Whistle Tasters, Combined Bodhrán and Tin Whistle Tasters, and a one-hour Introduction to Irish Music.

Whether you are visiting Dublin for a week, a weekend or even a day, why not take one of our Irish Music Tasters and leave Ireland with more than memories?

Options Available

Bodhrán Tasters

The bodhrán (pronounced bough-rawn), a wood and goatskin drum beaten with a wooden stick or ‘beater’, is the heartbeat of traditional Irish music. Learn about this great instrument and the two most important rhythms of Irish music – reels and jigs – in our one-hour Bodhrán Taster, taught by one of Waltons New School of Music’s renowned teachers. Take the Taster alone, or combine it with a Waltons 15-inch Classic Bodhrán Pack in Brown, Dark Brown or Black, including a bodhrán, beater and cover (regular price €59.95), for only an additional €47.

When possible, groups over fifteen people will be split and taught by two or more different teachers to maximise individual attention. This Taster can also be combined with our Tin Whistle Taster and/or our Introduction to Irish Music.


Bodhrán Tasters are scheduled based on both participant and teacher availability. We ask for your availability on our Booking Form.


Waltons New School of Music
69 South Great George’s Street
Dublin 2, Ireland

See our Location page.


Questions about our Bodhrán Tasters?


About the Bodhrán

Bodhrán and BeaterThe bodhrán is a ‘frame drum’ – an ancient type of percussion instrument that is also played in western Asia and south India, parts of eastern Europe, north Africa and Brazil. Bodhráns consist of a circle of wood, over which an animal skin (generally goat) is stretched.

Although the bodhrán’s history and origins are mysterious, the great Irish composer, musician and arranger Seán Ó Riada (1931-1971) believed that the bodhrán probably dated back to the Bronze Age or earlier. There is evidence that something very similar to a bodhrán was used in agriculture to separate grain seed from the chaff or husks. Grain was poured into it on a breezy day and it was shaken; the lighter chaff was blown away by the wind and the heavier grain was left behind.

The earliest written reference to the bodhrán comes from the mediaeval period. The unlikely source is an Irish translation of a 14th-century English medical text called Rosa Anglica. This describes one of the symptoms of dropsy or tympanitis as a ‘swelling of the stomach after food, which remains long there; and if the belly resound on being struck like a tympanum (timpán) or drum (bodhrán or tabur)…that is a sign that dropsy is consolidated therein’.

Since Ó Riada used the bodhrán in his influential group Ceoltóirí Chualann during the 1960s, it has become widespread among Irish groups and seisiún (session) players. In the hands of a skilled player, the bodhrán is both a subtle and exciting instrument. Not only is a great variety of rhythms possible, but players can vary the tone by pressing one hand (or the fingers) against the back of the skin, beating the stick on the wooden frame, beating with the hand as opposed to the stick and using different types of sticks or even brushes as beaters.

Bodhrán Taster Fees

PARTICIPANTS FEES (Taster Alone) FEES (with Bodhrán)
1 person €50 €98
2 people €30/person €78/person
3 people €25/person €73/person
4 people €21/person €69/person
5-10 people €18/person €66/person
11-15 people €17/person €65/person
16-20 people €16/person €64/person
21-30 people €15/person €63/person
31-40 people €14/person €62/person
41+ people €13/person €61/person

Tin Whistle Tasters

A simple tube of metal with six finger-holes, the Irish tin whistle is a beautiful and expressive Irish instrument. Learn the basics of tin whistle playing – as well as some great Irish tunes – in our one-hour Tin Whistle Taster, taught by one of Waltons New School of Music’s renowned teachers. The Taster fee includes a high quality Waltons Brass D Tin Whistle (normally €4.99) for just €3.

When possible, groups over fifteen people will be split and taught by two or more different teachers to maximise individual attention. This Taster can also be combined with our Bodhrán Taster and/or our Introduction to Irish Music.


Tin Whistle Tasters are scheduled based on both participant and teacher availability. We ask for your availability on our Booking Form.


Waltons New School of Music
69 South Great George’s Street
Dublin 2, Ireland

See our Location page.


Questions about our Tin Whistle Tasters?


About the Tin Whistle

Tin WhistlesWhistles of various types are found in most cultures, from ancient times to the present, and on every continent. In fact, whistles were most likely the first pitched flute type instrument in existence. In Ireland, the Brehon Laws mentioned whistle players as early as the 6th or 7th century, and there are numerous references to them in early Irish literature. The earliest physical remains of Irish whistles – from the 13th century and made of bird bone – were found in Christchurch Place, Dublin.

The tin whistle (feadóg stáin or simply feadóg – pronounced fah-dohg – in Irish) is the most common type played in modern times, and is sometimes known as a ‘flageolet’. The term derived from a ‘fipple flute’ similar to a tin whistle that was known in Europe from the late 16th century. It became popular in England and France in the 17th century, where it was used for playing classical music well into the 19th century. Most flageolets of this era, however, were more elaborate in design than the tin whistle, and some even had keys instead of simple open holes.

While tin whistles were once – as the name suggests – commonly made of tin, they are now generally made of brass or nickel-plated brass (although aluminium or even plastic whistles are also available), with plastic mouthpieces or ‘fipples’. Modern tin whistles are available in different keys, but the most common (since it is the most common key in Irish music) is a ‘D’ whistle.

Although it is a simple instrument, in the hands of a good player the tin whistle has an enormous expressive range that can encompass everything from the speed and excitement of dance music to the haunting and emotionally-charged expression of slow airs.

Tin Whistle Taster Fees

1 person €54
2 people €34/person
3 people €29/person
4 people €24/person
5-10 people €22/person
11-15 people €21/person
16-20 people €20/person
21-30 people €19/person
31-40 people €18/person
41+ people €17/person

Combined Tin Whistle • Bodhrán Tasters

We also offer Combined Tasters, which take place over two hours. Larger groups are divided in two, with half taking the Tin Whistle Taster in the first hour and the other half taking the Bodhrán Taster. The groups are reversed in the second hour. Combined Tasters are a great introduction to Irish traditional music and include a high quality Waltons Brass D Tin Whistle for each participant. We can also include a fascinating one-hour introduction to – and history of – Irish traditional music for up to forty people, along with the Combined Taster, for an additional fee (see below).


Combined Tasters are scheduled based on both participant and teacher availability. We ask for your availability on our Booking Form.


Waltons New School of Music
69 South Great George’s Street
Dublin 2, Ireland

See our Location page.


Questions about our Combined Tasters?


Combined Taster Fees

1 person €95
2 people €60/person
3 people €50/person
4 people €45/person
5-10 people €40/person
11-15 people €37/person
16-20 people €34/person
21-30 people €31/person
31-40 people €28/person
41+ people €25/person

An Introduction to Irish Music

Brian Boru HarpWhat’s the difference between a reel and a hornpipe? Why did Queen Elizabeth I give orders to ‘hang the harpers, wherever found, and destroy their instruments’? What did the earliest fiddles look like? How do uilleann pipes actually work? What is sean-nós singing? These and other questions will be answered in this brief survey of Irish traditional music, which also includes demonstrations of different Irish instruments and recordings of great traditional musicians.

Irish music has evolved over hundreds, even thousands, of years. It can encompass everything from slow airs to céilí dances, from sean-nós to slip jigs. It is above all the music of a fluid, living tradition, handed down from one generation to the next, or passed from one performer to another, and changing every time it is performed. Culminating in the trad explosion of the last forty years – from the rise of the 1970s supergroups (Planxty, The Bothy Band, Dé Danann) to the phenomenon of Riverdance to the best musicians on the contemporary scene – An Introduction to Irish Music makes it clear that Irish music today, however radically it may depart from the older forms, is all part of the same, living tradition.

Up to forty people can be accommodated for this talk/demonstration, which can be taken alone or with a Tin Whistle Taster, Bodhrán Taster or combined Tin Whistle and Bodhrán Taster.


Our Introduction to Irish Music talk/demonstration is scheduled based on both participant and teacher availability. We ask for your availability on our Booking Form.


Waltons New School of Music
69 South Great George’s Street
Dublin 2, Ireland

See our Location page.


Questions about our Introduction to Irish Music?


Introduction to Irish Music Fees

Introduction Alone
1 person €30
2 people €30/person
3 people €25/person
4 people €20/person
5-6 people €18/person
8-40 people €140 total
Introduction + Bodhrán, Tin Whistle or Combined Taster
+ Bodhrán Taster)
FEES (Introduction
+ Tin Whistle Taster)
FEES (Introduction
+ Combined Taster)
1 person €105 €109 €150
2 people €67/person €71/person €94/person
3 people €57/person €61/person €80/person
4 people €48/person €52/person €65/person
5-9 people €38/person €41/person €55/person
10-15 people €15/person + €120 €18/person + €120 €30/person + €120
16-20 people €14/person + €120 €17/person + €120 €28/person + €120
21-30 people €13/person + €120 €16/person + €120 €26/person + €120
31-40 people €12/person + €120 €15/person + €120 €24/person + €120

Testimonials About Our Tasters

‘I really enjoyed my lesson, and it was a great experience for me. Waltons New School of Music is a very good place to learn Irish traditional music, especially for foreign students like me.’
– F. Belfrond

It was inspiring and a great way to learn about Irish music.’
– M. Bovun

‘An excellent experience that added to an overall enjoyable Irish holiday.’
– J. Cave

‘A great quick introduction to the beautiful culture of Irish music and song.’
– N. D’Amore

‘A fabulous instructor! So knowledgeable about the tin whistle as well as the history of Ireland and its music and instruments. He also gave great recommendations of places to visit and sites to see which was very appreciated. I’m happy to have a new friend in Ireland.’
– K. Davi

‘Everyone is back home and more-or-less recovered from the short nights and travel, and can look back with a lot of pleasure on the fine weekend in Dublin.
   I would like to thank you for all your work in engaging the wonderful teachers, finding the classroom space, and having it all work out in timing and pricing. Thanks also for passing on my many requests to the teachers! I know it took quite some time, but it really helped make it the right kind of course for my pupils. I’m very grateful that the school and the teachers were willing to be flexible!
   I would also like to thank your colleagues for the warm welcome, and for making us feel at home in the school. Huge thanks too to all the teachers. They were fabulous!
   The course was a great success for my students, and I would definitely be happy to work with Waltons New School of Music again.’
– E. Delahunty

‘Thank you very much for the very informative, exciting and interesting three days for our students at your school! They really enjoyed playing the tin whistle and bodhrán and singing traditional Irish songs. Your teachers did a really good job, and the students learned a lot in a very short time. A fascinating new experience!’
– A. Frittum

‘The teachers were extremely talented, engaging and knowledgeable. I loved the demonstrations of various instruments (especially the pipes).’
– P. Gunta

‘No pressure, lots of fun, easy and welcoming.’
– M. Henty

‘I’m back home from Dublin. It was a most pleasant stay, but the high point of it was my bodhrán lesson. I have this personality disorder that manifests itself in collecting instruments and trying to learn them, mostly on my own. Being able to take even just one lesson with a real expert (and a most able teacher), is invaluable. Hope I’ll be back soon!’
– H. Hjartarson

‘I loved our bodhrán lesson with Éamonn – patient, witty, amicable and an expert musician – especially when he taught me a rhythm and then he accompanied me on his flute. Great fun! Would absolutely recommend this top-notch experience!’
– M. Hughes

‘Our group is made up of students studying to become music teachers in the public schools of Denmark, and we attended your Introduction to Irish Music and Tin Whistle Taster. I must say that both of them were perfectly planned. The Introduction was delivered with humour and a smile, making a sometimes heavy subject easy to understand, and the Tin Whistle Taster was great, focusing on different methods of teaching beginners to play. We had a great time and experience at Waltons New School of Music, and I would highly recommend that music students at our school do the same if they choose Dublin as their destination for future study trips.’
– M. Lorentzen

‘You really develop an appreciation of the Irish tradition and culture. The teacher was great.’
– A. Malin

‘Fantastic way to spend an hour learning something new. Relaxed atmosphere. Informal but very informative. Easy to book and very friendly.’
– S. Muggleton

‘Studying with Kevin & John was the highlight of my musical experience in Dublin. Both are master musicians & exceptional teachers. Many thanks. Shalom, shalom.’
– H.M. Perman

‘The teacher was very enthusiastic. His love for the music shone through!’
– A. Ryan

‘Great introduction to Irish music and the rhythmic patterns behind it.’
– U. Schmidt

‘For the absolute best time in Dublin, take an Irish Music Taster. The staff is excellent, and your time is well spent.’
– T. Seine

‘Everyone was so friendly and knew what they were talking about. The lesson was tons of fun and very interesting – plus you get to beat on things!’
– H. Valbert

‘The lesson was very good and the teacher was great, encouraging and relaxed.’
– N. van den Heuvel

‘A pleasure to spend an hour doing something different with a genuinely passionate musician and totally nice bloke.’
– D. Walker

Your Feedback

Have you taken an Irish Music Taster at Waltons New School of Music? We would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to give us your feedback in a brief online questionnaire about it.


More Information

About Our Teachers

Our teachers, all part of Waltons New School of Music’s renowned faculty, are some of the finest Irish traditional musicians and teachers in Dublin and together have many years’ experience both playing and teaching Irish music, as well as a deep understanding of the tradition.

‘The teachers here are the best I’ve ever come across. I have been in the school for seven years and it has never let me down.’
– S. Killeen

‘I’ve known Waltons New School of Music for many years, and I’ve always had very good experiences with its exceptional teaching staff and level of education.’
– H. Garnerman

‘[I have] a very supportive and talented teacher. He always goes above and beyond his role as a teacher, and I consider myself very lucky to have found someone with such a unique gift.’
– O. Martin

Irish Music Tasters Faculty

About the New School

Waltons New School of MusicFounded in 1994 and 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 and skill levels.

‘Very friendly atmosphere and really nice people. A great place to learn.’
– M. Reid

‘I think this is still one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. This school is great.’
– C. Brown

‘The school has always consistently delivered tuition of a very high standard.’
– O. Vallejo

‘Excellent quality tuition in a relaxing and fun learning environment.’
– S. Bradley

‘Waltons offers encouragement and expert teaching to musicians of all ages and abilities to achieve their ambitions and potential. A great musical and educational institution!’
– J. Dillon

Tasters for Team Building

Our Irish Music Tasters are also engaging and effective team building activities for companies and other organisations, as well as conferences. They can be tailored to your requirements and can take place either at Waltons New School of Music or at a location of your choice.

‘I asked Waltons New School of Music if they could help with a corporate meeting using drums to demonstrate the power of rhythm in a business context. The process was a real pleasure, and everyone I dealt with was knowledgeable and helpful. The session itself was facilitated by Éamonn Galldubh. Ahead of time, Éamonn quickly understood what we wanted to achieve and worked collaboratively on ideas to make the session a success. On the day he quickly established both his credibility and a rapport with the audience. He was a fantastic teacher, had just the right balance of humour, understood perfectly the messages we wanted to incorporate and worked seamlessly with the team without any rehearsal. The session was a resounding success and exceeded my expectations; our team not only got the messages but had so much fun to boot. Waltons handled all the logistics, and I would recommend them to anyone considering a similar event. A first class service.’
– S. Heaven, Vodafone

Please contact us with your requirements, and we’ll be happy to provide you with a quote.

Information for Tour Operators

If you are interested in offering any of our Irish Music Tasters as part of a Dublin or Irish tour, please contact us with your requirements and we would be happy to give you a quote. We offer special rates for tour operators and language schools and have also adapted our Tasters to suit a range of different groups.

Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin


We have tailor-made numerous Irish music workshops and short courses for a range of visiting tour and school groups. These have included both group and individual instrumental and vocal tuition, as well our introduction to Irish traditional music. Please contact us for more information.


Where do they happen?

Irish Music Tasters take place at Waltons New School of Music, which is located in Dublin city centre, five minutes’ walk from Trinity College and just around the corner from Dublin Castle.

See our Location page for more details.

When do they happen?

Tasters can be arranged at your convenience, subject to teacher availability.

What ages are they suitable for?

Because our Irish Music Tasters take place in a music school rather than a pub, they are suitable for all ages. Families are welcome to take one together!

How do I book?

Bookings should be made at least 24 hours in advance, 48 hours in advance if you would like to include instruments. Please complete an Irish Music Taster Booking Form to do so.

Booking an Irish Music Taster for one or more people requires a non-refundable €25 deposit, with the balance payable in cash or by credit/debit card before the Taster commences.


What other Irish instruments can I learn?

One- or two-hour Intensive Lessons (see Tuition Options – Intensive Lessons), as well as short courses of lessons, can also be arranged for the following instruments:

  • Banjo (4-String/Tenor or 5-String/Bluegrass)
  • Button Accordion
  • Concertina
  • Fiddle (Irish or Bluegrass)
  • Guitar
  • Harmonica (Diatonic or Chromatic)
  • Irish (Wooden) Flute
  • Irish Harp
  • Low Whistle
  • Mandolin
  • Singing (Irish Songs or Sean-nós)
  • Uilleann Pipes

See Traditional • Folk • World Instruments for more information.

Is longer-term tuition available?

Yes. The New School has a strong Irish traditional and folk instrument programme, and in addition to longer-term private lessons in all of the above instruments, and for all skill levels (beginner to advanced), we also offer the following group courses for absolute beginners:

We also offer an excellent course in Irish traditional Guitar for intermediate students:

My question isn't listed here. Who can I contact?

Please use our Contact Us form to get in touch, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.


19th-century engraving
of a boy playing the tin whistle.
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