Course Information

Welcome to
Scroll down for some tips to guide you along as you take the lessons

Tips before you start the lessons:

Try to learn Irish traditional music by ear. Use the notation pages as a reference only.

With this in mind, I recommend listening to the audio tracks a few times before you start the lesson video. It’s good to have the tune in your head, even be able to sing it / sing along with it before you pick up your instrument. The tune is played in two speeds on the audio tracks and you can adjust the speed to suit.

You can pause the lesson at any time to go over what you’ve just learned. Or skip forward/skip back. You can also take the lesson as many times as you need to.

You can also slow-down (and speed up) the video and the audio if you need to.

At the end of the video lesson, I advise and recommend that you go and play along with the audio track as many times as you can. When I was learning, I gained huge benefit from simply ‘playing along’ with my teacher, and getting in on his phrasing and rhythm. It will also help you get up to speed. So, once you have the video lesson finished, pop in those headphones, blast up the volume and play along!

My Recommendations

  • I recommend watching these lessons on a computer screen as opposed to a television. They can also be watched on iPads and phones. If you watch on a TV screen, the sides may be cut off. If you’re having trouble with the volume of the lesson, try using headphones.
    • We have added a ‘looping’ feature to both the video lesson and audio tracks. This is here for you to repeat a section of the video/ audio track if you want to practice one particular section. Simply press ‘Loop Start’ and ‘Loop End’ and that section will play repeatedly for you to practice. To stop the loop, press ‘Clear’.
    • I say ‘finger it out’ in most lessons. When I say this, I want you to listen to the phrase I’m about to play, and motion your fingers on your instrument, without playing the notes. In other words, play without making any sound. I want you to listen first, and then try it yourself. ‘Fingering it out’ really helps when learning a new tune.
  • I recommended having a quick look at the ‘What to Expect’ lesson first. It’s a short video to get you off on the right foot.

    • Dotted throughout the course of lessons, you’ll notice extra lessons called ‘Between the Notes’. These are short videos where I give you some practice tips and advice on rhythm, flow, swing… everything that happens between the notes!

  • Tunes are listed in a rough order of difficulty. So I recommend starting at the top and working your way down the list.

  • Filter the tunes as you wish, by clicking on Level 1, 2 or 3 at the top, and reel, hornpipe or waltz, etc.


Don’t worry too much about ornamentation (rolls, grace notes, cuts, triplets). It’s much more important to get the melody and the phrasing right. The ornamentation etc is only ‘decoration’, and should really only be added if you’ve done it before or if you’re comfortable with the melody already.


Try to get the melody into your head and into the fingers first before challenging yourself with intricate decorations.
Think of the Christmas tree! You can’t put the decorations on the tree until you have the tree itself. Get the tree first (the basic melody) and then add on the decorations (the ornamentation, chords, variations, etc).


It’s hard to say ‘this is where you put triplets / cuts / rolls’. There’s no rule. I just hope that through learning tunes here, you’ll grasp the general gist of where these ornaments usually go. Ornamentation differs from musician to musician. The next musician may not put a cut where I’d put a cut. And I may put a cut in the first time around, but leave it out the second time around. This is how a musician defines his/her style.


Again, the most important thing is to get the timing, a nice steady rhythm, good flow and a good feeling. The ornamentation, etc is secondary to all of this.

General tips on how to learn better:


Listen as much as you can to Irish traditional music. In the car, while you’re walking, at home. This is an important part of learning folk / traditional music. The more you have this music in your head and your heart, the more it will naturally flow out. Check out the ‘Suggested Listening’ page under ‘Mad for More’ for my recommended list of albums and where you can buy them.

Sing It!

Know the melody in your head before attempting it on your instrument. Sometimes I get my classes to listen to the melody a few times, before singing along with it. It’s easier to understand the phrasing if done in this way, which then makes it easier once you lift your instrument.


Once you start to learn the melody notes on your instrument, my advice is to repeat, repeat. This is how you’ll get a steady, comfortable flow into the melody. Even if you pick up a tune very quickly, it’s the time you spend after this initial learning that counts. It may only take you 6 minutes to pick up the notes of some tunes, but it could take 6 months to actually learn how to play it. This comes through repetition, practice and finding your own way and flow with the tune, and of course, plenty of listening.

Keep it steady

Please don’t try to play faster than is comfortable for you. Getting good flow is much more important than getting speed.

Learn Irish traditional music

Learn Irish traditional music from many sources; Recordings, regular classes with a teacher, workshops, concerts and notation. If you have access to a teacher, can be used to supplement learning from your teacher.

Please don’t try to play faster than is comfortable for you. It’s much better to have good phrasing and rhythm, than speed with no rhythm.

To play reels well takes work and practice. In the long run, you won’t regret investing time into your reel playing. You can contact me any time with a question. For more tips, check out my blogs.