Irish Internet Radio and TV from Dublin, Ireland.

    I come from a long line of musicians and I am related to a bunch more. My parents both sang. My late mother played organ and piano and, when young, could also play the accordion, while my father (who is now 91) once played various kinds of horns. My grandmother played piano and both grandfathers played fiddle. Various uncles and great-uncles played fiddle, guitar and banjo, while assorted cousins (and I have a lot of cousins!) sang professionally and played various instruments. But I never found an instrument I could actually play until I found the bodhran. Bingo! And even better, I'm actually the first person in my entire family to play one. Finally, I fit in, but doing my own thing!

    It's almost a year since I started playing the bodhran (at age 57, talk about starting late!). I bought a Waltons Pro 18 on eBay and it was shipped to Ontario from Quebec. It may not be the best instrument, but it sure is pretty! There is a natural pattern on the skin that is very attractive, and the wood is gorgeous with a rich rosewood finish and a very nice grain. But the skin is awfully thick and tight, and no amount of dubbin and wetting-down and beating has softened it up. And believe me, it took a lot of beating. I taught myself using YouTube videos and just kept playing and playing until I started to get the hang of it, usually 7-8 hours a week, sometimes more.

    After a few months, I reached the point where I really needed something a bit better. That started me on a search for a used but better quality instrument, one that is tunable and not made in Pakistan or China. I thought there should be lots of used ones out there, considering how many people I hear about that give up on it! But I have searched high and low. Not a one to be found.

    Being unemployed has its disadvantages, such as being able to buy a really nice new drum. So, does anyone out there know where a person in Ontario can find a good but not horrendously expensive tunable bodhran? Maybe you know of someone who has moved up to a high end model and has no need of their previous bodhran, or know a place where second-hand but good quality bodhrans are sold. If you do, let me know!

    Since February, I've been using a new, borrowed, 14-inch bodhran that is 5-6 inches deep. Make no mistake, this is a decidedly good drum. It sounds really great and it's easy to tune. But I just can't get used to it! I don't know if it's too deep for me (maybe I need one with a cutout for my arm?) or if I need a slightly larger diameter drum like a 15 or 16, but either way, I can't seem to make friends with this lovely instrument. It's been a joy to have a good one to play, but it's time to get one of my own, one that fits me, one that won't cost the earth, because I am now hooked on actually being able to play Irish music instead of just listening to it.

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Tags: bodhran, drum, music, traditional

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