I’ve been making Irish and celtic music a part of my life for just over a year now. This born out of necessity with me replacing my old guitar that had broken with my new James Neligan acoustic guitar and I needed somewhere to play it. I started my journey in January 2016 at Manchester’s oldest world music and education venue Band on the wall through the Brighter sounds education department. It is titled “folk group” in their listings and Emma Sweeney is our educational impresario. Emma teaches as she learned, by ear though there are notation handouts for every tune we learn for music readers. Knowledgeable and passionate in celtic music Emma has taught us tunes from Irish jigs and reels, eastern European waltzes and klezmer to bluegrass USA. In my first term I immersed myself as fully as I knew how, listening to Irish music where ever possible coming across Mark Gunn’s Irish and celtic music podcast was a massive help (http://celticmusicpodcast.com/), I had to learn new scales and I had to teach myself to read music. I also started to go to some traditional session in pubs across Manchester but in this first term, fish out of water springs to mind even though everyone was always encouraging.
We were joined in my second term by Manchester folk guitarist Paul Cowham who has been a brilliant addition to this class in particular for the guitarists. His knowledge and background stems from jazz, blues, Klezmer, bluegrass and his claim to fame is clocking up something like 300 hours of going to pub session in his first two years of learning Irish folk music. Since Paul has joined we have been able to form little pocket groups during our classes enabling us to concentrate more fully a group dynamic by choosing one or two tunes to hone in on.
The class is friendly, enthusiastic, encouraging and very reasonably priced, easy access, parking is free after 6pm and we have a concert at the end of every term. If you want to learn celtic music I couldn’t recommend this place highly enough.
Band on the wall, go to the education page – https://bandonthewall.org/
The two best pub sessions I know of in Manchester you will see Paul Cowham and other amazing musicians reeling out the best in celtic music. Chorlton Irish club, Sunday nights http://www.chorltonirishclub.co.uk/ and the Station pub Wednesday nights https://www.facebook.com/stationdidsbury/?rf=104133189662712
Marc Gunn’s Irish and celtic music podcast is free and advert free. He plays mostly unsigned, indie artists of the day but quality and informative and really helpful if you want to learn. As well as your traditional Irish music you will hear a smorgasbord of bands from around the globe, an inspiring show that you can present your music to and get played. http://celticmusicpodcast.com/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/celticpodcast/
Our end of term performance is this Monday 3rd of April at Band on the wall’s Picturehouse bar and everyone is welcome to come and get a flavour of Irish and celtic music and it doesn’t get much better than free entry. Don’t expect to be blown away as we are a study group but this is a great opportunity to get to know what to expect if you wanted to join.