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Young musicians at a fleadh in County Clare. Image © Tourism Ireland

Free Online Traditional Irish Music Courses

Ireland has a unique musical tradition dating back centuries and it's more vibrant and alive than ever. The unmistakable energy and passion of Irish traditional music is celebrated around the world by both the diaspora and by lovers of music everywhere. Techniques and tunes have been passed down through the generations by skilled musicians, and like any lively cultural phenomenon, Irish music never stays still. The distinctive sounds of Irish music are due, not only to the choice of instrument but the ornamented style of playing. While it’s quite easy to learn tin whistle notes, it’s much harder to learn to play the fiddle, the flute and the button accordion without the help of an accomplished teacher. Thus, Alison is proud to bring you an exceptional suite of free online music lessons taught by top Traditional Irish musicians. These seasoned performers and recording artists bring you certified courses from beginner through to intermediate level in eight key disciplines: fiddle, Irish traditional guitar, bodhrán, flute, tin whistle, concertina, button accordion and voice. Each course begins with the basics of the instrument and quickly builds up to full tunes. They are the perfect grounding for anyone who aspires to someday join the ranks of musicians at an impromptu session (or seisiún) or to simply enjoy the immense pleasure of performing some of the catchiest and most emotive tunes in the world.

Read More Learn to play traditional Irish instruments taught by well-known Irish musicians.
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Featured Traditional Irish Music Course Publisher

World Music Project by Alison

Born out of a desire to make quality music lessons freely available across the globe, World Music Project is the latest venture of Alison.com. With many years of experience since 2007 and an estimated 20 million learners, Alison has a proven track record in delivering education and training in a vast range of subjects.

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World Music Project sees Alison team up with avowed experts in their field to create first-rate courses, such as the Traditional Irish Music series. It has been developed in tandem with professional musician and TV presenter Doireann Ní Ghlacáin. The series includes courses at Beginner 1, Beginner 2 and Intermediate Level in seven traditional Irish instruments: fiddle, accordion, tin whistle, flute, guitar, bodhrán and concertina, along with Sean Nós unaccompanied singing. Each course is taught by an expert in that field, including recording artists and award-winning musicians.

Through the World Music Project, Alison aims to provide free, high quality, entry-level courses for students interested in learning to play instruments from different cultures across the world. With more projects being planned, WMP and Alison are celebrating diversity while empowering the next generation of musicians across the globe. If you are an expert in any aspect of music, please consider joining the Alison family and sharing your knowledge with online students eager to learn more. Visit https://alison.com/publish/self-publishing for more information on joining our team of top self-publishers.

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Traditional Irish Fiddle Courses

The fiddle is the iconic instrument and defining sound of traditional Irish music, with records dating back almost one thousand years. While the harp is the visual symbol of Ireland, the fiddle is the sonic. It’s not always an easy instrument to master, but with Alison’s free online fiddle classes, champion player Doireann Ní Ghlacáin provides teaching for absolute beginners through to intermediate level. The courses progress from the correct way to hold the fiddle and bow, through to playing basic tunes before Doireann moves on to popular polkas, jigs, hornpipes and reels. Once the student has mastered playing the music properly, Doireann introduces the impromptu ornamentations such as ‘slurring’, ‘triplets’ and ‘cuts’ that give Irish traditional fiddle playing its unique colour. If you are a complete novice, or have tried to play the fiddle in the past, but given up in frustration, or got so far but couldn’t manage those authentic Irish sounds, these easy to follow lessons will have you bowing like a true Irish fiddle player.

Traditional Irish Sean-nós Singing Courses

Traditional Irish singing is known as sean-nós singing, a highly ornamental form of unaccompanied song. The songs are often in the Irish language and feature unique phrasing and ornamentation which allow the singer to convey the emotions and tell the story of the song. In these free online Irish singing courses, Nell Ní Chróinín passes on the oral tradition of sean-nós, with songs in Irish and English. An experienced teacher, Nell bypasses the need for any prior knowledge of the Irish language, encouraging the student to write the lyrics phonetically on the pdf that accompanies each of these three online singing courses. The Beginner 1 course includes traditional, old style songs in Irish and English, the Beginner 2 course focuses on sean-nós songs in the Irish language and the Intermediate course is entirely made up of sean-nós songs in English. Along with the songs, students will learn how to add that all-important ornamentation to their repertoire.

Traditional Irish Tin Whistle Courses

The tin or penny whistle is the gateway to traditional Irish music for many musicians. The whistle is the perfect beginner’s instrument as it is inexpensive, accessible and portable, but most importantly, it trains the ear for music. While a reasonable level of playing can be quickly reached, the best tin whistle players can get tunes out of the instrument that are as complex as they are melodic. Our free online Tin Whistle courses range from Beginner 1 through to Beginner 2 and Intermediate. They start with the basics for anyone new to music, from the correct way to hold the whistle to the notes, scales and some easy tunes, like The Kerry Polka. The Beginner 2 course expands on the repertoire with a well known ballad, The Foggy Dew, followed by popular dance tunes. For players who know the basics, the Intermediate course will teach you those all important ornamentations that give the Irish tin whistle its unique appeal, as well as jigs and reels, played in the County Clare style, with set dancing in mind.

Traditional Irish Button Accordion Courses

The button accordion may appear a difficult instrument to master, however, our free online Irish Button Accordion courses are brought to you by accomplished teacher Conor Connolly. Winner of the prestigious national TG4 Gradam Ceoil Young Musician of the Year prize in 2019, Conor takes care to unveil the mysteries of the instrument. Using the B/C system, he works his way through the notes, teaching the D scale and some easy polkas in the Beginner 1 course. The Beginner 2 course introduces the C scale and playing in the higher octave and you’ll come away with three jigs in your musical arsenal. By the time you have completed the Intermediate course, your repertoire will include new jigs and reels, complete with ornamentation, the little extras that give Irish music its unique colour and sound.

Traditional Irish Guitar

The guitar is a core staple of native musical traditions the world over, and traditional Irish music is no different. When played in a traditional Irish music session or ‘seisiún’, the guitar is a key component of that all important rhythm section. There is also a rich tradition of Irish ballads sung to the expressive accompaniment of the guitar. In our free online Irish guitar courses, expert player Michael McCague takes the beginner through the first steps to playing the instrument in the Irish traditional style. The first step is to learn the ‘Drop D’ tuning system, where the bass E string is dropped to a D to add a depth and richness to the chord sounds. Through the course of these free online guitar lessons, Michael teaches learners the main chords used in Irish music, before progressing to a number of popular tunes including reels, hornpipes, jigs and polkas. With courses at Beginner, Beginner 1 and Intermediate Level, you will be able to play along to the most popular seisiún tunes in no time!"

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