Getting Started

Thank you so much for subscribing to my training library. Hopefully for you, this will be a place where you are encouraged in your pursuit of the music and supported by both me and the community in developing your skills further.


Where to Start?

If you are just beginning, I strongly encourage you to start with my foundational course ( whistle / flute ).  Take the time to go through it all carefully as this will be your foundation.

Once you’ve completed the foundational course, you’ll no doubt want to learn more tunes!  A little bit of explanation is needed for you to get the most out of my teaching.

In the tune library you’ll see tunes taught both on the whistle & flute.  As these instruments are so similar to each other, you should have no trouble learning a tune that I play on the flute if you’re a tin whistle player (and vice versa).  Each tune lesson has multiple chapters.  Generally the structure is as follows:

  • The Tune As I Play It
  • Bare Bones Version (If Applicable)
  • Phrase by Phrase Teaching
  • Guitar Backing (If Available)

Beginning Students

You’ll want to listen first to how I play the tune.  This not only gets the tune in your head but also gives you a better sense of the Irish traditional style of playing as well as a goal to reach for.  Next you’ll want to listen to the “Bare Bones” version so that your ear has some more time to learn the melody of the tune while not being overwhelmed with the speed and techniques I’m using in the ornamented version.  Next, I strongly encourage you to learn the tune by ear/sight.  You will do this by following along with me in the phrase by phrase learning sections.  If you have major difficulty with this style of learning, I have provided you with the sheet music as well.  This can be downloaded by clicking on the PDF icon on the corresponding track of the video player.  As a beginning student, your goal is to be able to play at least 10 “Bare Bones” tunes without mistakes before considering yourself ready to move on to intermediate level study.

Intermediate Students

For our purposes, an intermediate level student is someone who (at the very least) can play 10 tunes (“Bare Bones” version) from memory, effortlessly and without mistakes.  This also assumes that you are displaying proper technique.  For example, one thing I’ll keep reminding you to do is to lift your T1 finger when playing the middle-d note.  Remember, the key to progressing quickly is to practice SLOWLY.  You need to give your brain the time to learn all the new stuff you’re throwing at it.

Practicing alone does not make perfect!  PERFECT practice makes perfect.

If you’re an intermediate student, you’ll want to start working on your ornaments.  The goal of an intermediate student is to be able to execute the following ornaments and techniques effortlessly and without mistakes:

  • Proper Breathing / Tone
  • Cuts (Single)
  • Taps
  • Rolls (Long and Short – NOT Double Cut Rolls Yet!)
  • Slides
  • Vibrato
  • Tonguing (& Glottal Stops with Flute)

Of course this means also incorporating them into the tunes that you are playing.  Don’t gloss over these techniques.  These will lay the foundation for you as you develop into an advanced student.  It’s good of you to think of yourself as staying in the intermediate level for a while.  The longer you stay here mastering cuts, taps, rolls, breathing, etc… the better equipped you will be when entering the land of advanced playing.  Really, we are all “advancing” players – even as beginners.  The moment we pick up a whistle or a flute and get a sound out of it for the first time we advance.  So go easy and be good to yourself. The joy is in the journey.

The joy is in the journey.

At this point you may also want to get The Amazing Slow Downer (ASD) to help you in your practice.  ASD is a brilliant little computer program for both Mac and PC that let’s you slow down CDs and .mp3 files without altering the pitch of the music.

Note: The video below is showing an older version of my site but the concepts are the same. The mp3 files are currently downloadable on video tracks that have a corresponding audio track indicated by the music notes icon to the right of the track name.


Advanced Students

The truth is, there won’t be a day where you wake up and say:  “Hey look at me! I’m an advanced player!”.  Really, at the heart of every good musician shouldn’t be only the goal of being considered “advanced” ( catering to one’s ego really… ) .  The goal should be to enjoy your music and to share it with others.  Advancing as a musician should be enjoyable.  Again, the joy is in the journey.

That said, an advanced student is someone who is playing tunes beautifully with good rhythm and “lift” (more on that later), without mistakes (when performing), incorporating the base level ornaments and techniques and learning tunes by ear.  Advanced students are at a place where they are seeking to make the tunes they play “their own” – meaning that they are starting to develop their own personal style and approach.  Depending on one’s style, as an advanced player you may also be using more variation in your playing ( i.e. interpreting the same passage of a tune differently each time. )

I need not say too much to direct advanced students as they tend to be self starters.  If you are an advanced student, pick apart my lessons, download the .mp3 files I provide and put them through The Amazing Slow Downer, come up with your own interpretations, etc…  You get the idea!  Sometimes as an advanced player it’s hard to stay challenged.  I hope that I can help keep you motivated and encouraged here, providing you with perhaps a different spin on a tune than you would otherwise come up with yourself.  As musicians we should always be learning, always keeping our ears and minds open to new sounds, approaches, techniques, etc…

That’s all I have to say for now.  If you have any suggestions on how I can make this guide more helpful, please let me know.