Becoming an Irish Traditional Musician : Learning and Embodying Musical Culture book cover
1st Edition

Becoming an Irish Traditional Musician
Learning and Embodying Musical Culture

ISBN 9780367537951
Published April 29, 2022 by Routledge
262 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Coupling the narratives of twenty-two Irish traditional musicians alongside intensive field research, Becoming an Irish Traditional Musician explores the rich and diverse ways traditional musicians hone their craft. It details the educational benefits and challenges associated with each learning practice, outlining the motivations and obstacles learners experience during musical development. By exploring learning from the point of view of the learners themselves, the author provides new insights into modern Irish traditional music culture and how people begin to embody a musical tradition. This book charts the journey of becoming an Irish traditional musician and explores how musicality is learned, developed, and embodied.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Exploring the Journey of Musical Enculturation

Irish Traditional Music as a Community of Practice

Constructing this Ethnography

The Transmission of Irish Traditional Music: Key Features

1 Passing it on: Connecting with a Community of Practitioners





Entering the Community of Practice

2 Transmission, Inspiration, and Social Tensions in Irish Traditional Music Sessions

Acquiring Repertoire

Developing Technique and Personal Style

Situated Learning

Troubleshooting: Challenges to Learning in Sessions

The Session: Who is it for?

3 Organized Informality: Teaching and Institutionalizing Irish Traditional Music

The Teaching of Irish Traditional Music


Community Music Organizations

Gateways into the Community of Practice

4 Musicking at Festivals, Summer Schools, and Live Events

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann

Scoil Éigse

Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy

Céilidhs, Sing-songs, and Concerts

5 Technology and Irish Traditional Music Culture

Part 1: Old Media

The Role of Literacy in an Oral Practice

The Phonographic Revolution

Film, Television, and Video Technology

Part 2: New Media

Traditional Music in a Digital Age: The Role of the Internet

The Dawning of the Postdigital Day


Conclusion: The Lifelong Process of Becoming an Irish Traditional Musician

Searching for Patterns of Musical Enculturation

The Job of Journeywork: Navigating Multiple Paths

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Dr Jessica Cawley is an active performer, educator, and researcher in the area of Irish traditional music and music education. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of New Hampshire (2006), an MA in Ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick (2008), and a PhD from University College Cork (2013). She established the non-profit organization Creative Tradition in 2013, where she currently teaches traditional music in schools and in the community in partnership with Music Generation.