Resources for Learning Irish Music and Dance

Links and pointers to useful information on the subject of Irish music, dance, and playing a musical instrument.

Music Instruction

“121 Favorite Irish Session Tunes” by L.E.McCullough
Has sheet music and a CD with the tunes played relatively slowly, with no ornamentation, then faster with ornaments.

Dance Instruction

Steps for Sets, by Mick Mulkerrin.
Shows the fancy footwork you can use in different set dances. A must for anyone who likes the rhythmic, percussive side of dance. Doesn’t teach the set dances themselves. (For that, it’s best to find a teacher or get a multi-volume video series.) Available from Ossian, below.

Music and Dance Camps
For information on the Gaelic Roots music and dance camp. (Here is a review.)
For information on the Lark in the Morning music and dance camp.

Bay Area Slow Sessions
Session run by JoAnn Rees in the Sunnyvale/San Jose area.
Session run by Michael Duffy and Greg Douglas in the San Mateo area.
A cool site that lists a number of slow-play sessions in the Bay Area.

The abc music format and software
Celtic Mouth Music, Elipsis Press, NY.
A small booklet that describes the traditional Irish art of diddling. Includes a CD with a wide range of examples. Available from Ossian, below.
Field Guide to the Irish Music Session
A short, funny book that takes you inside an Irish music session, shows you what’s there, and gives you some idea of the etiquette involved.
Chris Smith, Celtic Back-Up for All Instrumentalists, published by Mel Bay (
A great book that explains pretty much what there is to know about the musical structure of Irish music, and seventeen different ways to go about accompanying it tastefully.
Chris Smith’s booklet on running a slow session
A nice little gem with thoughts about how to start and run a slow session. Available at cost by contacting Chris at

The Ossian store of Irish music and dance. They have an astonishingly deep collection of books, CDs, and music that they keep focused on traditional material.
The Gryphon music store. A fantastic guitar shop that also stocks fiddles and tin whistles. The place where Carol McComb (among others) gives her singing and instrument workshops.
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