Armagh Pipers Club has been at the forefront of traditional music education since its foundation in 1966. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, Armagh Pipers Club will have an exciting programme of events through the year.
Many young people who began their music in the Pipers Club are now well-known musicians playing professionally. We are delighted that so many of our students continue to study traditional music at university. Some of the best known musicians were introduced to traditional music through the APC tutor books. The Club has become an internationally acclaimed centre for traditional music through its promotion of the William Kennedy Piping Festival. Learning traditional music in the Pipers Club environment provides a wonderful opportunity to develop self-discipline and confidence while making new friends.
The Club's education programme aims to develop musical creativity through weekly lessons, informal sessions, and attendance at concerts. The two interdependent strands of music education are performing and listening. Pupils are taught to play an instrument focusing on developing technique while building up a broad repertoire of tunes. Traditional music is an inherited body of music handed down aurally through generations, while being continually added to by new compositions. Pupils are taught to memorise the music and perform it in a traditional style with appropriate ornamentation. Many go on to compose their own tunes. In order to become a traditional musician one must learn to listen to music - pupils need to avail of every opportunity to hear good musicians in live performance and also build up a collection of recorded music to listen to at home.
Our education programme takes account of both elements of music learning - performing music in class, at the Family Sessions and in concerts, listening in class, at the session, at the Trad at the Trian concerts and at the William Kennedy Piping Festival. Teaching is group-based, giving learners the experience of working with others to make music in a non-competitive atmosphere. Beginners and junior pupils are taught using graded tutor books and CDs produced by APC. All pupils are taught to read music, enabling them to access the wide range of music publications available. Senior classes are taught aurally and pupils are expected to have their own recorder in class.
The Club also has a large archive of recordings, music collections and tune/song transcriptions. Students can avail of computer programmes to transcribe tunes.
Through the annual WKPF, pupils have an opportunity to become familiar with music of many countries and broaden their musical horizons. Our links with Gaelic Scotland in particular encourage an interest in the music of the country and especially in the Gaelic singing and piping traditions.