I have not found workshops terribly useful for technical learning, and probably would never have attended even one had I not fallen for a ton of bricks for a musical tradition/instrument/style with NO master musicians in my instrument in geographic proximity to my habitat. I went to workshops for a while just to get the time in the same room with the master players who were my own touchstones, and found it really valuable, despite the fact that I find the workshop setting really annoying. YouTube is helping a lot with this for folks, but really being in the room with that person---It does work a magic and helps get it into your bones.
2 of my own touchstones remain Dympna O'Sullivan and Mary Macnamara, and I was fortunate enough to spend several days running with each of them at different festivals---Lawrence already threw in some of my own 2 cents on that one.
Mary's classes BTW are very crowded. As in, like 2 dozen grownups both times I attended. But she handles it very well---There is discussion and demonstration for everybody, and then people are loosely divided into groups. But all groups stay in the class with Mary the whole time, in one big circle. (There is none of this sending people away to "learn from each other" while the teacher focuses on one group--a total waste of Irish music-learning travel money if ever there was one). If your group is sidelined, you are still in the big circle, just not playing---you are watching, listening and tapping along while Mary leads the tune and plays with the group she is focusing on. And it is just about all, with Mary leading, so there is a master at the helm and you are hearing the East Clare music and rhythm as led by a master.
So at 3.5 ish hours daily for a few days running, that is a good chance to get some of the East Clare swing and rhythm intaya. I think if you don't have it close to hand where you live, as much as you can spend a bit of time with players whose style you really admire, it can be really valuable for some period of your development.
RE crowded classes in the Catskills---Ha, my experience was that the advanced classes were clogged up with intermediate-at-best individuals who grossly overstated their skill level because they just had to be there with such-and-such teacher.
I do have to chime in with Geoff and Peter here. I went to the Mrs. Crotty weekend in Kilrush the last year it was an official festival event (there is one sad loss, btw). And during the official concert, they packed the bill with local exemplars of that same, patented style. It was very boring and dreary, no fault to the young players. It's just tiresome to listen to. However, it was kind of spoken of by the sponsors/emcees as just the last word in incredibleness.
Edited by ceemonster, 20 March 2017 - 05:00 PM.