Flute masterclass with Niall Keegan

Earlier this year I applied for funding from Creative Scotland under their Professional Development Programme and I was lucky enough to be awarded the grant which funded me to travel to Limerick for a masterclass with flute wizard Niall Keegan. At the same time that I applied for funding for flute tuition I had applied for a grant towards the cost of a new keyed flute from the Arts Trust Scotland. Again I was delighted to be awarded the money and received my new flute from George Ormiston a few months ago. As I have never played a keyed flute before (only keyless) I felt that some tuition would benefit my development on the instrument greatly. It was fantastic to receive the two grants together.

On Thursday last week I travelled to Limerick. I had a fantastic masterclass on the Friday with Niall. I had previously studied under Niall on the BA Irish Music and Dance at the University of Limerick and so I have had tuition from him before but never on a keyed flute. We worked on exercises, ornamentation, breathing, phrasing, key work and talked about lots of flute geekery. He taught me a tune in E major and then I was made to put it into Eb major. Now, I’m used to playing the piano where I’m happy in every key but my brain and fingers found this very hard on the flute as it is an unusual key for traditional music. I think it’s a useful exercise though and something which I’m looking forward to working on.

It was a very worthwhile trip over to Ireland, even with the travel mishaps (it took me over 13 hours to get back to Glasgow on the Saturday due to the bad weather), to receive such an inspiring masterclass. I also got to tie it in with seeing some old pals which was fantastic. Hopefully you’ll be hearing me play the flute in all sorts of mad keys in the sessions in Glasgow soon! I’m also up for writing a tune in a key which isn’t heard so often on the flute 🙂