I can honestly say that the single most important influence on my playing has been my trips to the Craiceann Bodhrán Summer School on Inis Oírr, Ireland. I have been to this workshop in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, and I am returning this year.
Why do I keep going back? Here are a few reasons...
Great Classes from Great Teachers
Each year that I have attended, the roster of instructors reads like a "Who's Who in Bodhrán Playing." I have attended classes with Cormac Byrne, Donal Lunny, Eamon Murray, Liam O'Maonlai, Martin O'Neill, Colm Phelan, and many, many more. These classes have no more than 10-12 people, and they cover a range of subjects in the world of bodhrán playing. These exposures always provide me with techniques and information that make this trip worth the effort and cost.
The Beauty of Inis Oirr
I don't usually throw around the word "magical," but this island justifies the term. It is stunningly beautiful. It is remarkably secluded. And being there in the middle of summer with its long days and short nights is unlike any experience that I have ever had in the United States. As I have said in the past, I spent seven days on the island and 358 wishing that I were back on it.
The People That You Meet
Craiceann attracts people from all over the world. It is so enriching to meet and interact with people from so many backgrounds. These interactions lead to so many ancillary opportunities for learning- about other cultures, other languages, other music, and it is a healthy and welcome reminder that the rest of the world is not so Americentric.
I always leave the island with so much new information. And this information undoubtedly results in many great ideas and projects. As a result of the ideas and information that I have collected on the island, I have written three books, started recording a solo album, built some of my own tippers, and have commissioned a yet-to-be premiered work for solo bodhrán and percussion ensemble. This workshop seems to be the well from which I am refreshed, and I can't wait to see what is in my head after this year!
I keep up with many of the people that I have met on the island throughout the year. I have traveled to see some of them in the U.S. Some have stayed at my home. A few I chat with through the year. I look forward to seeing my old friends this year, and making new ones as well!
So yes, this workshop means so much to me. I would encourage you to make the trip over to it in the future. You never know what effect it will have on your relationship with the drum.