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Know the Score - Read & Write Irish Traditional Music

In this short course, Dr. Liz Doherty will help you learn how to read – and write down – Irish traditional music using a simple, 4-step system and a suite of resources designed especially for the traditional musician.


This course is being run in partnership with the Willie Clancy Summer School and will be delivered as part of their events programme from July 3rd-7th, 2023.

Course Venue/Location:  St. Joseph's Secondary School, Spanish Point, c/o Willie Clancy Summer School, V95 NW01, Co. Clare


This short course is for:

  • Traditional musicians on any melody instrument who want to learn to read music;
  • Traditional music teachers who want to upskill;
  • School teachers who want to upskill;

This short course is for any traditional musician or teacher who wants to learn how to read staff notation fluently and confidently.

Being able to read and write staff notation is a skill that unlocks so many possibilities for the traditional musician in terms of building repertoire, collaborating with musicians from other genres and exploring new performance opportunities. But it can seem daunting. Maybe you have tried it in the past and have given up, because there was no bespoke system or resources that seemed familiar to you, nothing that seemed relevant to traditional music.

This course changes all of that!


Dr. Liz Doherty has created a simple, 4-step system and a suite of accompanying resources*, all designed specifically with the traditional musician in mind. Using examples from traditional music you will learn how to read and write down music using staff notation.

 *The course Workbook must be purchased separately (discount available for course participants). Workbooks will be available for purchase at the first session. Learn more at  

Participants will demonstrate their proficiency in a short sequence of exercises at the end of the week.


By the end of this short course traditional musicians and/or teachers will be able to:

  • Understand the form and structure of traditional music repertoire when written in staff notation;
  • Read and play the rhythm of any tune type;
  • Read and play the pitches on the staff in any tune;
  • Sight-read any traditional music tune;
  • Write down any tune using staff notation;
  • Understand the bass clef (left-hand). 


Course Certification:

This short course is designed and delivered by I Teach Trad and is certified by RIAM. Participants who complete the course will be awarded a CPD certificate.



SPECIAL Willie Clancy Summer School incentive for course participants

All course participants will also get:

  • Free admission to all WCSS afternoon lectures, evening recitals and events.
  • Free admission to the WCSS afternoon conversational Irish and Scots Gaelic language classes
  • Half-price admission to all WCSS Céilithe


Dr. Liz Doherty

Dr. Liz Doherty is a traditional musician and educator from Co. Donegal. She is founder and Director of I Teach Trad, a new platform specialising in professional development and training for traditional music teachers (

She has over 25 years of experience as a traditional music educator, holding lecturing posts at UCC (1994-2001) and at Ulster University (2007-2020). During this time she played a pioneering role in developing traditional music as a viable discipline in higher education nationally and internationally. She was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship from Advance HE in 2019 and was voted ‘Inspirational Teacher of the Year’ in 2017. 

Liz graduated from UCC with a BMus (1991) and from the University of Limerick with a PhD (1996), the topic of which was the fiddle music of Cape Breton Island, Canada. Her publications include The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion (2015), Crosbhealach an Cheoil/The Crossroads Conference (1996, 2013, with Fintan Vallely et al), and the website,, which helps traditional musicians prevent performance-related injuries. As a fiddle player she has toured and/or recorded with bands such as Fiddlesticks, Nomos, Bumblebees, String Sisters and Riverdance-The Show. She has also performed with Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and the RTÉ National Symphony and Concert Orchestras and is featured on over 20 CDs, including her two solo recordings, Last Orders and Quare Imagination

Liz has previously worked with The Arts Council, where she established the Deis scheme, and is currently a member of Culture Ireland’s Expert Advisory Committee. She has directed festivals and events including NAFCo 2012, and more recently, has been music producer on programmes such as Fleadh (TG4), FleadhFest 2021 (Power Pictures) and Samhlú (Fibín Media), winner of the Prix circom Award, 2021.


Participants must be 18+.

Participants need to bring their own instrument(s) to the course.

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