Arts & Sciences

New courses bring Irish culture to Marquette

Learn the Irish tin whistle or traditional Irish dance in two 1.5-credit courses

Marquette will roll out two new 1.5-credit courses this fall for anyone interested in or curious about Irish music and dance. The introductory courses in the Irish tin whistle and traditional Irish dance count toward the Klingler College of Arts and SciencesIrish Studies minor.

Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle, taught by Rev. Ryan Duns, S.J., associate professor of theology, will teach students how to play traditional tunes on the popular Irish instrument.

Father Duns, who has played the tin whistle for over 35 years, has taught the course in the past — but this will be his first time teaching it at Marquette.

“I taught a version of this course at Fordham University many years ago, and we had a blast,” Father Duns says. “I think students should be willing to take a risk to learn to play an instrument, and I think I provide a fun and supportive learning environment. I love Irish music and want to share this love with others by giving them a chance to ‘find their voice’ as Irish musicians.”

For the first few weeks, Father Duns will teach the basics: how to read music, hold the tin whistle and play basic melodies. As the class moves on, students will learn how to play traditional songs from the Emerald Isle.  

“By the end of the term, I hope to have taught students eight different tunes and maybe a few Christmas carols,” Father Duns says.

No prior musical experience is needed for this beginner’s course. If students do have prior music knowledge, Father Duns says he will work to give them more advanced instruction.

“I love watching students ‘get it’ and find themselves playing a tune,” Duns says. “Lots of people think they could never play an instrument, but if they are open to learning, I am confident that they’ll discover hidden talents.”

The course will be held during the fall 2024 semester on Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. No textbooks are required; only a tin whistle, which typically costs under $20.

Introduction to Irish Dancing, taught by Brigid Kinsella-Alba, assistant director of mission engagement, will also be available for students. Kinsella-Alba has been an Irish dancer most of her life and owns Kinsella Irish Dance in Milwaukee with her husband Ryan.

“This course will introduce students to the traditional dances of Ireland, including solo step dance footwork, group set dancing and ceili dancing,” Kinsella-Alba says. “The class will include warm-ups, technique and choreography. Students will gain an understanding of Irish traditional musical rhythms. All levels welcome. Experienced Irish dancers will be able to prepare and take Grade Exams offered three times per year at Marquette.” 

This class will be held during the fall 2024 semester on Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.