“Trad Road Show”
Local music teachers lead innovative, inter-schools’ collaboration with the development of a unique teaching tool – the “Trad Road Show”.
By Jennifer Williams
Presentation Secondary School Clonmel
On Tuesday 30th April, Music teachers from the Presentation Secondary School, CBS High School, Gaelcholáiste Chéitinn and Loreto Secondary School came together to facilitate a collaborative, interactive workshop on Irish Traditional Music. Using the best resources available to them, their own traditional music students, these teachers carried out three two-hour workshops in three different venues across the town; Loreto, the High School and the Presentation. The purpose of the workshop was the expose post-primary level music students to live traditional music, with focus on the syllabus for Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate music.
The original idea was pitched by Siobhán Alley, of the Presentation, to the other music teachers back in early January. After a series of inter-schools’ meetings, a program was devised by the music teachers, which they felt would be of tremendous benefit to their students. With the program structure designed, the teachers then went on to facilitate a meeting with several music students from each school who are highly proficient in traditional music. The students worked together to agree on suitable, common tunes which they would use during the workshop. Teachers from the team commented on how fantastic it was to have such talented performers in their midst, but more importantly, how rewarding it was to see so many young people working together for the benefit of their peers.
During each workshop the audiences were provided with a booklet, where they could take notes which would benefit them in both the listening question on the exam paper and the essay question. Each performer discussed their individual instrument and played examples for the audience to hear and to comment on. Mr. Tom Kenna and his daughter Clodagh (Loreto) performed a series of beautiful tunes together which gave Mr. Kenna a chance to divulge his wealth of knowledge about the lesser known bouzouki to the students. Bríd McMaugh (Loreto) and siblings Ellen and Seamus O’ Gorman (Presentation & High School) wowed audiences with their slow airs on their fiddles, while young Naoise Forristal (Gaelcholáiste) played a highly impressive planxty on her beautiful harp. Henry Fitzgerald, a past student of the Presentation, kindly joined the team on this roadshow to demonstrate a variety of dance rhythms on the bodhrán. However, according to members of the audience, the highlight of the day was being awarded the opportunity to see and hear the uillean pipes, expertly performed by Cian Smyth (High School). One student commented on the fact that although they learn about all the instruments in the classroom, hear and see them from video clips, there is nothing compared to seeing such an integral instrument of the Irish tradition right in front of their eyes. Another student commented on how they found the “team teaching” element of the workshop very helpful. Each audience was treated to a very special ‘seisiún’ at the end each workshop, where they saw the tradition come to life in front of them. A special mention must go to Mary-Kate Geehan (Gaelcholáiste) who treated us to some fantastic Irish dancing as well as singing a lament in sean-nós.
Each of the workshops was filmed and photographed by a local company, “Home of the Mind”, who followed the team to each of the three venues. It is the intention of the Music teachers to use this recording as a shared teaching resource for future students. The “Trad Roadshow” teachers extended a special thanks to the senior management teams of all four schools for their support in facilitating such a unique and innovative project and expressed how they look forward to working together again and furthering this wonderful collaboration.
“Trad Road Show” Teachers: Siobhán Alley & Jennifer Williams (Presentation Secondary School), Olga Gannon & Tom Kenna (CBS High School), Marie Mullen, Breda Geoghegan and Patricia O’ Mahoney (Loreto Secondary School)
“Trad Road Show” Performers: Ellen O’ Gorman (fiddle) and Anna Tobin (trad flute) from the Presentation. Seamus O’ Gorman (fiddle), Cian Smyth (uillean pipes), Eoin O’ Keeffe (guitar), Tom Kenna (bouzouki), Conor Butler (button accordion) and David Barry (trad flute) from the High School. Clodagh Kenna (tin whistle), Róisín Barry (piano/concertina), Emma O’ Keeffe (box) and Bríd McMaugh (fiddle) from the Loreto. Naoise Forristal (harp/concertina), Sean Collins (banjo), Mary-Kate Geehan (fiddle/vocals), Oisín Forristal (box) from Gaelcholáiste Chéitinn.