This course aims to take you from beginner to intermediate level.  If you have no experience of playing our music I would advise you to stick to the course at it is outlined: the tunes are presented in order of difficulty and at each stage there are specific learning goals - missing some out might mean developing bad habits and having to back-track at a later stage in order to fix these.  

I would advise most complete beginners on the mandolin to get started on The Complete Beginners Mandolin Course. However, if you have experience of playing another instrument you might prefer to jump straight in to the full tunes.  If you do start here you can decide at which pace you want to learn and the units will be issued as you make progress.  

There are:
  • several units at each level.
  • 4 tunes in each unit.  
  • 15 units, containing a total of 60 tunes (additional tunes will be added where useful)
These units will include the following:
  • notation and tablature for each tune
  • tuition notes for each tune
  • useful exercises in notation and tablature (and sometimes audio)
  • audio files of the tunes each played at least twice at different speeds

Level 1     'Get Rhythm'
There are eight units at this first level.  The first aim is to familiarise you with the different types of tunes typically played in sessions, including Jigs, Reels, Polkas and Hornpipes.  The second aim is to help you to understand that rhythm is the most fundamental ingredient of playing traditional Irish and Scottish tunes.  These first sets of tunes don't include and complex triplets so the main focus is on the tune and the rhythm.

Level 2    'Add some Style'
There are three units here.  The idea here is to get into playing triplets and generally add a bit of style to the selected tunes.  We will then have a look back at a selection of the tunes you already know from Level 1 to see how we can apply these new techniques to those tunes.

Level 3    'Understanding Slip Jigs'
This is an extra unit I prepared in order to cover an essential part of our music, the 9/8 type jig. These are great style and tunes, but require a bit of close attention.  There is only one unit here containing four tunes.

Level 4      'A few Challenges'
Again, only three units here with four tunes in each.  However, the tunes are a good step up from level 2.  If you manage these then I think it's fair to say that you have reached at least an 'intermediate' level.

 Level 1     'Get Rhythm' 

Unit 1

The Reel  o Tulloch

Egan’s Polka

The Wind that shakes the Barley

The Stool of Repentance


Unit 2

The Rose Tree Polka

Kenmuir’s up and Awa

Castle Kelly

The Galway Hornpipe


Unit 3

The Ballydesmond Polka

Lord Drummond

The Soldier’s Hornpipe

The Kesh Jig


Unit 4

Britched full of Stitches

The Rakes of Kildare

Jack broke da Prison Door

The Boys of Bluehill


Unit 5

Chief O’Neill’s Favourite

The Ale is Dear

The Four Pond Cheque

The Rambling Pitchfork


Unit 6

Peggy Ryan’s Polka

The Connaughtman’s Rambles

The High Road to Linton

The Dundee Hornpipe


Unit 7

Ryan’s Polka

Drummond Castle

The Liverpool Hornpipe

Rakish Paddy


Unit 8

Bill Sullivan’s Polka

My Darling’s Asleep

The Conundrum

The Banshee

 Level 2    'Add some Style' 

Unit 1

The Blackbird

The Bluebell Polka

The Bank of Ireland

The Blackthorn Stick

Unit 2

Off to California

Within a mile of Dublin

Merrily Kissed the Quaker

The White Cockade



Unit 3

Out on the Ocean

The Poppy Leaf

The High Reel

Farewell to Whisky

 Level 3    'Understanding Slip Jigs' 

Unit 1

The Foxhunter’s Jig

The Night before Larry was Streched

The Swaggerin’ Jig

A Fig for a Kiss

Level 4      'A few Challenges'


Unit 1

Hunting the Hare

Toss the Feathers

Dermot Grogan’s Hornpipe

The Mooncoin Jig



Unit 2

The Butterfly

Miss Wedderburn

Drwosy Maggie

The Jig o Slurs


Unit 3


Racheal Rae

Langstrom’s Pony

The Belfast Hornpipe

Tarbolton Lodge