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Rhinegold Education Key Stage 3: Lesson 1

From Rhinegold Education, here is the Key Stage 3: Lesson 1 (ages 11-14), which will get you listening to and performing Irish Traditional Music!

Key Stage 3: Lesson 1 Irish Traditional Music

Learning Objective: Listen to, review and perform some Irish traditional music.
Length: ½ hour.

1. Watch the clip below and answer these questions.

(Listen to it as many times as you need to)!

a.) What is the very first instrument you hear?
b.) Which instrument has a solo near the start?
c.) During the first 40 seconds, one phrase of music is played twice. At what point does the repeat start – 15 seconds, 20 seconds or 25 seconds?
d.) After about 40 seconds another type of instrument joins in. Is it a) a banjo, b) a ukulele or c) a mandolin? (If you’re not certain, click on the links, listen to the sounds of the 3 instruments, then listen again to the instrument playing Inisheer).
e.) When all the instruments join together at 1.09, do they play the melody that was played in the first 40 seconds; the melody that was played 0.40-1.09 or a completely different melody?
f.) At 2.06 some of the instruments stop playing. Which ones?
g.) How does the music end – from 3.04 onwards?
h.) In total, how many people are playing in the group?
i.) Which of their instruments can you name?

How did you get on? Listen to the answers here!

Now have a listen to Tim as he explores Irish Traditional Music in a bit more detail. If you like, write some notes to refer to later for Question 2!

2. Look back over your notes.

In your view, how is Irish traditional music different from Classical music?

Here are some of the things you could have said!

3. Watch a second clip. This is a different version of the same melody.

Like many other traditional Irish melodies, the melody of Inisheer is fairly simple to learn. It consists of just phrases: the 1st phrase is played twice then 2nd phrase is played twice. Then the whole melody can be repeated several times, sometimes with variations (e.g., more or less players can join in).

Watch a second clip. This is a different version of the same melody. Can you locate the phrases? Write down the point at which each phrase starts (some points are done for you).

1st Phrase

1st Phrase repeats


2nd phrase 
2nd phrase repeats1.00
1st phrase 
1st phrase repeats 
2nd phrase 1.57
2nd phrase repeats 
1st phrase (ending) 




Listen here to check the answers!

4. Compare the two different version of Inisheer, answering the following questions:

a.) What differences do you hear in instruments, tempo (speed) and dynamics (volume)?
b.) What is the difference in mood and how is this created?
c.) What aspects of Irish traditional music are emphasised by the two tracks?
d.) Which do you prefer and why?

How did you get on? Listen here for the answers!

5. Now, let’s play some music!

Using any instrument (or, if you don’t have an instrument, a virtual instrument) learn the first phrase of Inisheer. Ideally you should do this simply by listening to one of the tracks and trying to join in (as happens in Irish traditional music). You will need mainly these notes:

HINT 1: Start on the low D, then play B, A, B, high D.
HINT 2: The phrase ENDS like this:


6. When you have mastered playing the first phrase, choose one of the clips. Turn the volume up and play along with the first phrase, whenever it comes.

7. You can find more information about Inisheer (including its name) here!
A good example of a Traditional Irish session can be found here!

By Tim Cain for Rhinegold Education

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