Summer Bodhran Classes At The Gaelic College Announced For 2015

by MichelleStewart on December 14, 2012

I will be teaching bodhran at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada for one week this summer (2015). Anyone who has ever been will tell you it’s an experience of a lifetime. 

I’ll be at the Gaelic College for Adult Session 1 – August 3rd – 7th, 2015.

The reason I’m only teaching for one week this summer is so I can be back in Scotland to watch my husband and son compete in the World Pipe Band Championships. 

There are five classes a day and you can choose from a variety of instruments, dance and language. Click here to find out more about Adult Session 1. 

You certainly don’t have to be one of my Platinum students to attend, but once again many Plats from around the globe are reserving their vacation time and planning to come.

There’s even a private Gaelic College SUM15 facebook page for Plat, and non-Plat, bodhran students who are coming. In there they share helpful travel and packing tips, class timetables, and everything you’d ever need to know to prepare.

The last couple of years people shared rides, flights, B&B’s, etc. By the time they arrived for registration on Sunday night they felt like they already knew each other before classes even started on Monday. 

It’s pretty incredible to witness such instant bonding through a mutual love of music.

If you are coming let us know so we can add you to that private FB group. You can drop me an email or send me a private Facebook message.

Below: Our annual after-class ‘Tipper Making’ Workshop 

Below: Platinum Reunion Party And Photo-Shoot At My Mum’s House

Interested In Attending? Here’s How To Find Out More

If you would like more info about the courses please visit or phone (902) 295-3411. You can also email the Director Of School Operations, Kevin Dugas, at 

What If I Don’t Have A Drum?

Note For Beginners: If you don’t already have a drum, and not sure what to buy, you can borrow one of my extra workshop drums and use it for the week. Just let me know so I can put one aside for you. There will be students there with drums of different makes and sizes so it will be the perfect opportunity to try lots of different drums before buying one. 

 The Bodhran Class Photo Tradition

I’ve made sure to take a bodhran class photo every year since I started teaching at the Gaelic College in the mid-90’s. It’s now not only a highly anticipated tradition among the bodhran students, but the shenanigans going on behind the scenes during the shoot is one of the things I look forward to the most.  



I think the Gaelic College should also include the fact that you have all your meals cooked for you (which also means no dishes to wash up) in their marketing campaign. It’s like ‘band camp for adults’. Many people find learning in this incredible environment to be a life-changing experience and a priceless gift to themselves. 

Hope to see you there,

Drum On!

~ Michelle

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My Personal Top 5 Favourite Celtic Christmas Albums

by MichelleStewart on December 14, 2012

Since these cd’s have been playing almost non-stop in our house leading up to Christmas I just wanted to share some of my personal favourite Celtic holiday cd’s with you. Of course, I’m also partial to a bit of Sarah McLachlan, Michael Buble, Kenny G and even Alan Jackson’s Christmas album, (yes, I have some country in me too), but here are my favourite Celtic ones. I’d love to know what YOUR TOP 5 would be so please feel free to leave a comment below to share yours. Sending a heartfelt Merry Christmas to all of you in this wonderful bodhran community (and your understanding families : 0 ) ~ Michelle

Barra MacNeil’s –  ‘The Christmas Album’

Barra MacNeil’s – “The Christmas Album II’

A Celtic Celebration Volume 1 – Night Heron Music

Atlantic Standards Christmas

The Chieftains – The Bells Of Dublin

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I Officially Have Bodhran Tipper Envy – Part 2

by MichelleStewart on August 31, 2012

(Aug 2012) Check out the other half of my friend Lauraileen’s bodhran tipper collection that she brought to the Gaelic College this year. It was certainly fun playing around with them.

I wish I could have seen my own face when I tried number 10. It’s not just incredibly cool to look at either. It sounds like nothing else I’ve ever tried before so I’ll definitely be ordering myself one of those funky little numbers. In fact, I think I’ll start making up my bodhran tipper Christmas wish list and conveniently leave it where my husband is sure to see it.


Tipper Collection 2nd Half

1. Albert Alfonso
2.Brian’s Beaters T-Rod
3.From the music store in Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
4.Brian’s Beaters
5.Albert Alfonso
6.Albert Alfonso
7.David Robson Woolly Top at Craiceann
8.Falconwood Tippers
9.Brian’s Beaters T-Rod
10.David Robson Acrylic Top Clicker at Craiceann
11.Falconwood Tippers
12.Allen Kirkpatrick of Bethesda Woodworks
13.Brendan White Clicker
14.Brendan White
15.Allan Collison at Craiceann
16.Christian Hedwitshak Snakewood
17.Cormac Byrne  Bodhrod – Blayne Chastain uses this on his online Bodhran course 

If you haven’t seen the first half of the collection yet click here.

AND, as always, I love it when you share info about your tippers, where you got them and your own tipper stories. It’s a great help to everyone else who is thinking about investing in some new tippers too.

The posts left under Part 1 (1st Half Of the Collection) were super so thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute there.

Please leave a comment below to add your two cents on tippers and feel free to click the Facebook ‘recommend’ or Twitter ‘tweet this’ buttons to share this post with your bodhran playing friends.

Keep calm and drum on.

~ Michelle



Registration for BodhránExpert Platinum Membership Summer Class of 2016 is now open for a limited time. 

Click here to join.

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I Officially Have Bodhran ‘Tipper Envy’ – Part 1

by MichelleStewart on August 13, 2012

(August 2012) Back in Scotland after three weeks home in Cape Breton. I had the most amazing week with my bodhran students at the Gaelic College.

We had a bit of a BodhranExpert Platinum members reunion with drummers flying and driving in from Ireland, California, Ontario, Manitoba, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania as well as locals from the Maritimes.

Lots of photos still to come from that, but I am really excited to share this incredible tipper collection with you. I have huge ‘tipper envy’ for my friend Lauraileen O’Connor’s bodhran tipper collection.


Tipper Collection (1st Half)

The tippers in the photo are numbered so you can see who made it below. Most names are hyperlinked to take you directly to the maker’s site.

1. Valentin at Craiceann (Aislin Ceoil on FB)
2. Don’t remember who made it but it was made for Craiceann 2011
3. Allan Collison at Craiceann
4. Allen Kirkpatrick of Bethesda Woodworks
5. Christian Hedwitshak
6. Ben March
7. Neil Lyons
8. Falconwood Tippers Robbie Walsh edition
9. Falconwood Tippers
10. Christian Hedwitshak
11. Belgarth???
12. Falconwood Tippers
13. Allen Kirkpatrick of BethesdaWoodworks
14. ChristianHedwitshak
15. Christian Hedwitshak
16. ???
17. Falconwood Tippers
18. Glenn Stout
19. Falconwood Tippers
20. ChristianHedwitshak
21. ChristianHedwitshak
22. ChristianHedwitshak
23. Brian’s Bodhran Beaters (made from the wood of table damage in a fire – still has a burn mark on it!)

I was lucky enough to get a brief try with most of these and realized it’s time to invest in a few new beaters myself. This is only HALF OF THE COLLECTION. Click here to see the 2nd Half.

Can you do me a favour? Could you please leave a comment if you have any of these and share what you think of them so others can benefit from your first hand experience.

Also feel free to add any information you might have about the unknown make and contact info for any of the names not linked to a maker’s website or Facebook page.

Lastly don’t forget you can click  the Facebook ‘Recommend’ button below to share this collection with any of your friends.

Keep Calm and Drum On!

~ Michelle


Registration for BodhránExpert Platinum Membership Summer Class of 2016 is now open for a limited time. 

Click here to join.

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Video Library

by MichelleStewart on October 27, 2011

I’m in the process of gathering some of my students’ favorite bodhran videos for you to listen to and learn from as well as playing along with. So, no more excuses for not knowing what to practice during your 10 Minutes A Day Practice Challenge.

I’ll be posting more videos here on a regular basis so please send me the link to any of your own favourites in the comment section below.

You know I love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment about any of the videos or how you’re doing in your bodhran journey.

Drum On!

~ Michelle

Donnchadh Gough

Moving Hearts – Live In Dublin – The Lark on MUZU.TV.
Moving Hearts – Live In Dublin – The Lark

The History of the Bodhran 1973-1982

John Joe Kelly

Steafan Hannigan

Lucy Randall

Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh

Jim Sutherland

Jim Higgins

Cormac Byrne plays bodhran at Craiceann in Inisheer 2010

Beoga – Eamon Murray

Mance Grady bodhran solo from 2007 CCCF

Robbie Walsh

Tommy Hayes demonstrates his Bodhran Technique with and without beater.

This video is one that inspired many to learn bodhran so it’s only appropriate to post it here.

Some truly amazing bodhran playing by Martin O’Neill.

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.

Rocky Road to Dublin – Kelly Family + Chieftains

Billie Jean on the bodhran by Tad Sargent

Documentary featuring Seamus O’Kane and Rolf Wagels

Cormac Byrne

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What Is BodhránExpert Platinum Membership Program?

by MichelleStewart on October 2, 2011

BodhranExpert Platinum Membership is year long online program and downloadable course, but a truly unique experience. Yes, you get all the videos, transcripts and audios from me that make you feel like I’m there in the room talking to you and teaching you directly, but you also get to connect with me and your classmates so you actually feel like we’re in this journey together.

Once you register you will receive login details to a private membership site where you can watch, read, listen and download everything to keep forever.

The Main Program Lesson Vault includes:

  • 45 Never Seen Before Video Lessons (Over 2 hrs total)
  • 45 Audio Recordings of the Video Lessons (Over 2hrs)
  • 45 Files of Written Transcripts from each lesson (118 pages in total) with the easy to follow Bodhran Notation.
  • Progress Checklist so you can track your progress
  • All material is downloadable.
  • Everything is not only viewable on regular computers and notebooks, but it is also Ipad and Iphone ready.

gift-graphicYou also get SIX BONUS MODULES

Once you’ve covered the Main Program these Bonus Modules will help to take your playing to the next level and keep you motivated. These six, very in depth lessons, with Video, Audio and Transcripts with Bodhran Notation, will be schedule released which means two weeks after you’ve registered and you’ve had some time to watch most or all of the Main Program you’ll get  Bonus Module 1 – Offbeat Reels. These Bonus Modules are so involved because when I was creating them I just couldn’t stop teaching and they ended up being much longer than I even intended them to be. Each one of them could be released as their own individual course, they are that involved.

Then 21 days after you start you’ll get Bonus Module 2 – Mastering Triplets and Rolls.

On day 28 of the program you’ll get Bonus Module 3 – Slip Jigs.

Bonus Module 4 – Marches, Waltzes and Polkas comes to you 35 days into the course.

Intermediate and Advanced Jigs – Bonus Module 5 will be released in the private membership site  42 days in.

And then Bonus Module 6 – Bodhran Solos will be released on day 49. So the sooner you start the sooner you’ll get access to those. And did I mention that all of these modules have multiple videos and you will get the transcripts and audios too?

BUT you’ll still have access to the private membership website for six months so you’ll have more than enough time to download everything. And there’s even a video in there to show you exactly how to download everything.

mod-1 Bonus Module 1 – Offbeat Reels

In this module you will learn all about the Offbeat Reel Rhythm and how to use it in scores. I originally planned to include one tune to play along with, but got so carried away during recording that we ended up putting together a four tune set. This is a 9 video module totalling over 97 minutes.

mod2Bonus Module 2 –  Mastering Triplets And Rolls

In this lesson you will learn how to master triplets and rolls once and for all. This is a complete blueprint to cracking what many find to be one of the most frustrating rudiments to learn and control. In this very detailed lesson you’ll learn how to use triplets in the score for the very popular ‘Toss The Feathers’. Five videos for another 85 minutes of high quality instruction.

mod3Bonus Module – 3 Slip Jigs

This module is all about the Slip Jig. Not only will we cover various Slip Jig Rhythms, but we will learn a score to use it in AND I’ll also teach you how to change between 9/8 and 6/8 time when the tune calls for it.  You will also learn what to play along to Rocky Road To Dublin.

mod4Bonus Module 4 Waltzes, Polkas and Marches

This module will cover an introduction to Waltzes, Polkas and Marches. You will learn suggested beatings to play along to the featured tunes and much more. Includes O’Sullivan’s March, John Ryan’s Polka and Fanny Power Waltze. Five more great videos totalling 74 mintues.


mod5Bonus Module 5 –  Intermediate and Advanced Jig Rhythms

This module will cover intermediate and advanced jig rhythms and a really neat tune to use them in. This lesson really makes you think outside the jig box and see the cool possibilities beyond the Mother Of All Jig Rhythms. Five more videos of intense jig work will keep you busier than the 54 minutes of video time. As in all the modules the notes will really support you here, especially the 30 pages for this module alone.

mod6Bonus Module 6 – The Bodhran Solo

This module will cover how to piece together a bodhran solo. Here I will teach you two sections of one of my own solos. First we’ll cover the ‘Jig Fanfare’ and then what I call my ‘Salsa’ section. Almost another 100 minutes of video content in the module itself.

Inside the Private Members Website you will also find the following sections:


tuneroomTune Room

This will be your own private session training ground. As we cover a new tune recordings of it at various tempos will be placed here. You will also have the option to play along with the uilleann pipes with and without my bodhran accompaniment. Playing along with my drumming will help you gain confidence and when you are ready to play on your own the track without drumming will be there for you.


This section will host a variety of helpful resources that will not only assist you in learning the bodhran, but it will also help you become more educated and show you how to guide yourself along your musical journey.


This section is for you to exchange information about bodhrans, tippers, playing goals and a host of other topics. It’s the ideal place to brainstorm, get help and make friends.

facebook-graphicPrivate Facebook Group

Consider this area to be your ‘Bodhran Help Hot-Line’. You wouldn’t believe the amount of information, valuable tips and support that is here on a daily basis. The sense of community here is one of the best things about this program.

The Next Class Of BodhranExpert Platinum Membership is Here NOW!!!

Check it out here  

Drum On!!!

~ Michelle

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Practice Just Got Alot Easier

by MichelleStewart on October 1, 2011

I remember when I first started playing bodhran most of the tracks I wanted to play along with were so fast. I thought I’d struck gold when I found a cassette player that slowed down and sped the tape up, but the downside was that the pitch either dropped dramatically or made every group sound like the chipmunks gone Trad.

I just uploaded this free video to show you exactly how to use one of my favourite tools, the Amazing Slow Downer, to slow down your most loved music tracks to practice along to.

Some Free Solutions

I’ve been a fan of the Amazing Slow Downer for several years now because it’s so easy to use and as a music teacher it’s worth the $50 investment or $15 for the app. However, I realize not everyone is going to use it as much as me so here’s a free option I learned from my buddy, Steafan Hannigan. He shared this great tip with me recently on facebook as to how you can also slow tunes down with QuickTime. I couldn’t believe I had it on my computer all this time and didn’t even know it was there or play around with it. Most of you probably have it on your computers too.

So, here’s your Step By Step Instructions as to how use this free QuickTime Player to slow down or speed up music to play along with:

1. Go to QuickTime Player (if you can’t find it on your desktop just type it into ‘Search Programs and Files’)

2. Below ‘File’ select ‘Open File’ (pick a fave track)

3. Once it comes up go to ‘Window’

4. Scroll down to ‘Show A/V Controls’

5. When the AV Controls box pops up you’ll see Playback Speed in the bottom right hand corner and you can adjust the track tempo there.

I will try to do a screen capture video to actually show this at some point, but thought you’d like to try it out asap if you have a fave track that you thought was just way too fast for you. Now you’re all set.

GarageBand Can Do It Too!
I’m looking forward to getting a Mac very soon and know you can adjust the tempo in GarageBand. If you’re on a Mac just go to Youtube and search something like ‘GarageBand slow down’ or ‘GarageBand change tempo’ you’ll find a video of someone showing you how to do that.

“Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.”

― Bruce Lee

Continue to live with passion and drum on!
~ Michelle

UPDATE: Just moments after posting this one of my Platinum students,
Bob from Texas, told me about gAssisant, another great option free from
the Mac App Store.

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10 Minutes A Day Practice Challenge – Who’s In?

by MichelleStewart on September 9, 2011

challengeMy Skype fiddle lessons start back up again this week, but I struggle to fit in practice time just like everyone else so I’m setting a challenge for myself and anyone else who wants to participate. It’s called the ’10 MINUTES A DAY PRACTICE CHALLENGE’. Basically, you commit to practicing your instrument 10 minutes a day which would make up a minimum of 70 minutes/week. I have been leaving my fiddle out where I can just pick it up and also blocking practice time into my google calendar.

So far, just since this week (I started on Sept. 5th, 2011), about sixty people have joined me in this challenge and have been posting updates on my BodhranExpert facebook page

It’s not too late to join in so who’s with me??? For those of you not on Facebook you can leave your updates below this post. Be sure to check in here or on the facebook page link above on a daily basis and share practice tips and how it’s working for you.

This challenge has been inspiring so many people. Being accountable and doing it as a group just seems to make it way more fun.

Once you get started it’s pretty hard to stop after only 10 minutes, but just commit to atleast 10 minutes every day because we can all spare 10 minutes, right?

Drum on!(or fiddle, pipe, etc. on)

~ Michelle

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How I Got Musically UNSTUCK!

by MichelleStewart on August 1, 2011

Practicing my fiddle

Hey everyone,

I’m here at my mum’s place on the Bras d’Or Lakes in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and it’s just been a cracker of a day. I’m into my second week of teaching bodhran at the Gaelic College and I was so inspired after an awesome day of lessons and ‘a-ha’ moments that I found some time to get my fiddle out to practice tonight.

I have to tell you though, I’m not great on fiddle yet, but I’m getting better with instruction from my amazing teacher, Dara MacDonald. When I’m in Scotland Dara gets up at 6 a.m. Nova Scotia time to give me a Skype fiddle lesson at 10 a.m. Scotland time. I’m really grateful she does because she then goes off to teach a full day of school followed by more Skype lessons at night.

I am writing this to tell any of you who are thinking about learning a musical instrument, whether it’s bodhran, fiddle or whatever you’re passionate about, and you’ve been looking for a teacher in your area, that there’s never been a better time to learn. You don’t need to have someone in person, locally, to teach you anymore so there’s NO EXECUSES.

I can personally vouch for Skype or video lessons. It’s an amazing gift to give to yourself. I turned 40 this year and this is one of the things that I’m giving to myself. I’ve always wanted to play the fiddle, and for years I’ve just been transferring over pipe tunes I knew and hit a plateau where I taught myself all I could. I definitely needed help if I wanted to get better. I know I probably won’t ever get to the point of recording a fiddle cd or anything like that, but I just get so much joy out of playing it and I love the music.

I admit, I don’t really get alot of time to practice, but it fills me up. So, if you’re like me, and there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, I want to tell you that you are NEVER TOO OLD and it’s NEVER TOO LATE to learn.

Life is too short to not do the things you want to do.

~ Michelle

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Every Bodhran Player Will Want One!

by MichelleStewart on June 28, 2011

I just had to share this special gift that one of my very talented Platinum students made for me because I think every bodhran player is going to want one.

Anna Karin Liljestrand has been inundated with orders from BodhranExpert Platinum Members all around the world for bodhran necklaces, bracelets and even rings. These aren’t just for women either, they look really cool on guys too. Some drummers are hanging them as an ornament from their car mirror or using them as a unique handbag charm. The possilities are limitless, but each piece is one of a kind and the bodhran community as a whole seems to appreciate hand made craftsmanship.

If you would like your own customized bodhran piece you can contact Anna directly by email at:, look her up on Facebook: or go to her website

I think it’s great when people discover their passion and get to share it with the world. I hope Anna’s story of combining her creative interests inspires some of you to do the same.

~ Drum On,



Email Anna a photo of your bodhran and she can make a necklace, bracelet or ring that looks just like your drum.


My bodhran necklace made by Anna Karin Liljestrand

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