Belfast Summer School of Traditional Music
31st July - 4th August 2017


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The team of international tutors is made up of master performers with proven track records as teachers and educationalists. The primary means of teaching and learning is ‘by ear’ with an emphasis in the less experienced classes of assisting pupils to develop oral/aural skills in addition to instrumental competency and developing core repertoire.

  • Classes take place Monday 31st July - Friday 4th August 2017 10:00am - 1:00pm at Ulster University Belfast Campus on York Street.
  • Classes are designed for intermediate to advanced (minimum 2 years instrument experience) adults and children over 6 years of age with exception of the Traditional Singing Classes, Fiddle Classes and unless specifically titled a 'Beginners Class'. See individual classes for full details. 
  • Fee includes admission to all programme events with exception of evening concerts and the Trad Trail.

Fiddle with Tara Breen, Siobhan Peoples, Melanie Houton and Martin Dowling

Fiddle with Tara Breen, Siobhan Peoples, Melanie Houton and Martin Dowling


Classes take place Monday 31st July - Friday 4th August 2017 10:00am - 1:00pm at Ulster University Belfast Campus.

Fiddle classes are designed for all abilities from Beginners to Advanced adults and children over 6 years of age.

Students will be graded by tutors on first morning and placed in the appropriate class. 

Fee includes admission to all programme events with exception of evening concerts & Trad trail. 

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Tara Breen

Tara is a highly talented multi-instrumentalist from Co. Clare, started playing the flute at the tender age of six, and the fiddle at the age of seven. She has achieved All-Ireland titles on fiddle in every age category over the years, culminating with the All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Title in 2012. Tara is also an All-Ireland winner on the flute and saxophone. In 2006 Tara won the coveted ‘Fiddler of Dooney’ competition, and in 2009 she added the prestigious ‘Michael Coleman Fiddle Competition’ to her list of accolades. In 2011 Tara won the senior Oireachtas fiddle title, and also in 2011, Tara was chosen to play at Dublin Castle for the Queen of England during her State visit to Ireland. She was selected by Donal Lunny for the T.V. series, ‘Lorg Lunny’, which culminated in the band Ciorras, and from there went on to join the Galician piper Carlos Núñez, with whom she continues to play on a regular basis throughout Europe. In 2014 Tara joined the Chieftains for their North American tour, and currently plays with them at various venues both at home and abroad. She achieved her Dip. ABRSM in 2007 in classical flute, and also qualified as a Traditional Irish Music teacher with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, achieving her TTCT in 2011. She attended the National University of Ireland, Cork, graduating in 2011 with a BA(Hons) in Music and Arts, and in 2012 graduated with a B Mus. Degree.

Siobhan Peoples

Performer, composer and teacher, Siobhan Peoples is the daughter of the famous Donegal fiddle player and ex Bothy Band member Tommy Peoples. The Ennis-based fiddle virtuoso straddles the rich legacy of the Clare and Donegal music traditions effortlessly, in performance her intricate style has wowed and entertained in equal measure for many years.
She is an accomplished tutor and recording artist whose performances and compositions help maintain the music which she greatly loves. Siobhan teaches regularly at various festivals including the Willy Clancy week and she is a resident fiddle tutor on the traditional Irish music program in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.
Along with Murty Ryan, a young box player from Co Tipperary, they put together a great collection of tunes in the album Time On Our Hands , including several compositions by Siobhan and her father, as well as some by Ed Reavy, Paddy O’Brien, Vincent Broderick, and a superb slip jig by harpist Michael Rooney.

Melanie Houton

Melanie Houton is a fiddle player from the coastal townland of Glengad outside Malin in Co. Donegal. Melanie began playing the fiddle at a young age and has won numerous Fleadh titles at county, provincial and national level as well as the coveted Senior Oireachtas Fiddle title in 2009. She has performed at numerous honourable events throughout Ireland and further afield. Melanie, aged just 14, was selected to travel to Southern India to perform alongside representatives from all over the world and from here she paved a platform for performances in countries such as Romania, Portugal and America to name a few. In 2009 Melanie travelled to Damascus in Syria to perform at the UN Irish Embassy St Patrick’s Day Gala Ball. This was followed by a St Patrick’s Day performance in the National Concert Hall in 2010 before returning to Syria in 2011 to perform for the UN once again. She has taught at various music festivals both at home and abroad and featured on several television and radio programmes for RTE, BBC and TG4. Melanie is currently based in Belfast where she is a regular on the traditional music scene. She also teaches music in both Belfast and Donegal and is currently awaiting the release of her debut duo album alongside her sister Paula.

Martin Dowling

Martin Dowling was born in Chicago of Irish parents in 1960. He began to play the fiddle professionally in the early 1980s while studying economics and history. His early influences included Liz Carroll and Kevin Burke, and he absorbed and studied the styles of all the great Sligo fiddlers, past and present. He married flute player and singer Christine Dowling in 1987 and they moved to Belfast in 1994 to further pursue music and Irish history. In 1998 he became Traditional Arts Officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and supported the traditional music community in Northern Ireland for the next five years. In 1998 he produced and performed on the CD "A Thousand Farewells" with Christine and Daithi Sproule, and has performed and recorded with many other Belfast traditional musicians over the years. In recent years he has been involved with experimental projects in traditional music. In 2013 he collaborated with harper and sound artist Úna Monaghan and poet Ciaran Carson to create "Owenvarragh: A Belfast Circus on the Star Factory", a historic realisation of a score by John Cage. He was also a member of the "Trad Noise Trio" with Úna Monaghan and pianist/composer Ryan Molloy which explored chance determined strategies for performing traditional music devised by composer and programmer Eric Lyon. The group released a CD in 2013 titled "TwentyTwelve."

Martin is also a sociologist and historian of Irish music, having held fellowships and lectureships in University College Dublin and Queen’s University of Belfast. Numerous academic publications on Irish music were followed in 2014 by the publication of Traditional Music and Irish Society: Historical Perspectives (Ashgate), a book which traces the evolution of Irish traditional music from the 18th to the twentieth century and gives his perspective on traditional music in Belfast during and after the troubles. Martin is a highly regarded fiddle teacher, appearing at festival workshops and summer schools in Europe and America and has taught at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy in Clare since 1998.