Class Description - Banjo/Mandolin Classes

Kids at the Fleadh

The following general descriptions apply primarily to melody instruments. Traditional singing and accompanying instruments like bodhran, guitar, harp, and piano will have somewhat different descriptions.
Please see the individual descriptions for each class for more details.

Starter: Certain instruments (fiddle, harp) offer starter sections for those who are new to the instrument. These classes cover starting technique and care of the instrument and serve as an introduction to Irish music. Depending on skills recognized or obtained, students may move up to Beginner classes sometime during the quarter.

Beginner: These classes are for those who are new to the instrument or have limited skills. Note that some instruments will have "Starter" classes due to the nature of the instrument. Students will become familiar with their instruments and will learn to play simpler Irish tunes by ear at slower speeds; tunes that are taught may not be on the tune list for the quarter but may be in the Riley 'Common Core'. Students will learn about the different types of traditional Irish tunes.

Intermediate: Students should have previously been in a Beginner class (or the equivalent in outside private lessons) or have played the instrument for some time in Irish or related styles. Students will continue to learn tunes by ear, with a focus on the current quarter's tune list. Students will learn to play at faster tempos and begin to learn Irish ornamentation and style.

Advanced: These classes are for those who are quite familiar with their instrument and Irish music. Tunes will be taught with the goal of attaining playing them at 'Riley Speed', which can be heard by listening to the tunes on the website. There will be continued emphasis on ornamentation and style, using the current quarter's tune list.

Classes are offered based on instructor availability for the current quarter. Please see the current schedule for this quarter's classes, times and instructors.

Banjo/Mandolin Classes

Class Teacher Time Email
Banjo/Mandolin I
Patrick Foose 10:00
Banjo/Mandolin II/III
Jeff Standley 11:00

There is one class for both instruments at the beginner and intermediate levels. The focus will be on learning Irish traditional music and the techniques for playing it. The whole school learns the same tunes by ear, so you will be able to play with others. In addition to class, there are different bands that you are invited to join (no additional fee) at 12:30pm. Going to band will allow you to practice the tunes outside of class with people playing other instruments. Children and adults are in the same class. For banjo, you should have a 4 string tenor banjo, not a 5 string banjo, as that is what is used in Irish traditional music. In playing Irish traditional music, the focus will be on playing the tune melody using a flatpick, along with ornamentation.

If you are starting out on banjo or mandolin with no experience, you would generally start in the beginner class. This level learns and practices the tunes at a slow tempo. If you are unsure of which level to select, please contact the instructor listed for guidance.

For additions or corrections to the website, please send email to