Reply To: Traditional Irish music on the melodica

Daren Banarsë

Hi Guilherme

This was just the position I found myself some years ago! As you’ve probably discovered, there isn’t a great deal of instruction on playing Irish music, and certainly nothing specific in regards to the melodica.

I use a combination of methods. One is going to the Irish sessions in London, where there are some fantastic players, and listening to and absorbing the music there. When there’s tunes I like, I record them on my phone, so I can work out how to play them when I’m back at home.

When I first became interested in Irish music, I became friends with a lovely Irish flute player, who used to teach me how to play tunes authentically in return for food and wine! This was often a matter of me playing something, and her shouting ‘no’, until I eventually got it sounding right.

The third way, which I still use a lot now, is listening to recordings of great players, and analysing how they get their sound. The melodica sounds remarkably similar to the concertina, so I’d recommend listening to concertina players on the internet. I particularly like Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh, whose physical albums you’ll have to order online. But see who you’re drawn to on youtube, and then buy a couple of albums to listen to in more detail.

You can learn a lot about style from listening to other instrumentalists as well, like the fiddle, flute, and accordion. Here’s a few of my favs to get you started:

Jimmy Keane (piano accordion)

Tim Collins (concertina)

Martin Hayes (fiddle)

Have a listen, to my examples, and to whatever you discover. Pick out players you like, find one tune, and work out how to play it exactly as they are. It’s hard work, but you will learn so much this way. There’s software/apps you can get which will slow the recording down for you as well, which might be handy for seeing exactly how the ornaments are played.

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