27 May 2016
Scoil Éigse 2016
Summer School at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann
Scoil Éigse is the official summer school organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann where Irish and international students of all ages register for the various instrumental music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes. The school will be held this year between 14th – 19th August in Ennis and provides workshops, lectures and sessions.Teaching & Learning
Scoil Éigse is the flagship event in the Comhaltas Education programme. The summer school provides a broad-based cultural educational experience for students, their families, other visitors and the general public. Passing on the tradition of Irish culture is what Comhaltas does. The ethos of teaching and learning is a core value of the organisation and has been since its foundation. It is hard to believe that traditional music was in danger of dying out in the mid-20th century. That it survived and thrives is a tribute to the many volunteer teachers who passed on their knowledge and skills.
Like every other form of learning, the student at Scoil Éigse will experience the benefits of a class or summer school programme in direct proportion to the work that is put into it. No performer is immune from the need for practice, more practice, and then even more practice. But it’s worth it. Playing and singing to a high standard can be very rewarding. There are few pastimes that will offer such a lifetime of pleasure both for the performer and the many audiences who will be entertained along the road of life.
Kieran Hanrahan, himself a tutor at Scoil Éigse for many years, is Director of Scoil Éigse 2016. A native of Ennis, the iconic banjo player is one of the finest talents to come from the town. Forever associated with Stockton’s Wing, he presents Céilí House on Saturday night on RTE Radio 1, teaches at DIT and also at the Willie Clancy and Scoil Éigse summer schools.
“I grew up learning my music in Ennis – in my age group we were lucky there was a cohort of people playing traditional music, the Cotters, Paul Roche, the MacMahons, Dermot Lernihan, people like that. We had a very strong group of talented musicians around the town, from that point of view it was a pleasure growing up here, there was a great sense of community,” says Kieran.
He expects up to 700 students at this year’s Scoil Éigse from all over Ireland, the UK , USA and even from Japan. “It’s very important to get the word out in Clare that the summer school is not just for visiting musicians, this is for local musicians as well. It’s a great opportunity to interact with the top musicians, people that locals might not have had access to before,” he added.
Daily classes are central to the week’s purpose. Students are placed in appropriately graded instrumental music classes -fiddle, flute, whistle, button-accordion, concertina, banjo, harp, uilleann-pipes and piano-accompaniment- as well as traditional singing and amhránaíocht classes, dancing and conversational Irish. A mixed-instrument class is usually held for adults only. Classes take place in Coláiste Muire and Rice College, Ennis. This year Scoil Éigse introduces a Foundation level course for students aged from 12 – 18 with an intellectual disability.
Attending Scoil Éigse
There is no age limit at Scoil Éigse and certainly no generation gap. Enthusiasm knows no age barriers and whether you are keen on learning sean nós dancing or making a comeback on the accordion you will find fellow pupils to join you in a session, to exchange tunes, songs or steps. However, beginners are accepted only in the dancing and traditional singing streams.
On the various instruments, only those who can play reasonably well are accepted. The emphasis is on improving their traditional techniques and their knowledge and understanding of the music. There are two or more classes on each of the instruments catering for pupils who might be respectively described as “improvers” and advanced. Of course, “advanced” pupils in traditional singing and dancing are also catered for.
The team of international tutors is made up of master performers with proven track records as teachers and educationalists. The primary means of teaching and learning is ‘by ear’ with an emphasis in the less experienced classes of assisting pupils to develop oral/aural skills in addition to instrumental competency and developing core repertoire. In the advanced classes pupils’ command of instrument and overall technique and musicianship is the primary focus in addition to extending the students repertoire and their ability to transfer the skills learnt in class to other musical situations.
Apart from the daily classes, Scoil Éigse also affords the students and their parents and friends an opportunity to hear the tutors in a performance setting each afternoon. The Scoil Éigse recital series is usually among the hottest tickets in town. These exciting events are free and are considered an important part of the learning experience for the students. This year those recitals take place in An Dánlann.
Each day is capped off with the Club Éigse, a series of Irish Traditional music sessions, featuring a group of tutors who take to the stage and encourage all the students in the audience to participate in the session. This session has been known to feature up to two hundred and fifty musicians. It is very much a fun feature of Scoil Éigse. The venue for Club Éigse is the Auburn Lodge Hotel.
Cost & Application Process
Cost for the week’s activities is €135 which includes the classes, all the afternoon recitals, Club Éigse, and the Tutors concert. There are reductions for more than one family member and Comhaltas scholarship students. An application form can be downloaded from the Fleadh website fleadhcheoil.ie or from comhaltas.ie