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Online Academy of Irish Music OAIM?

Ralph Cook

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Well, my wife started in on lesson 1 today as a refresher course for her occasional anglo playing and it suits her! It strikes me as sensibly structured so far. Remember, as with any recorded instruction to stop and review frequently, and get one lesson down before going on to get the most out of it (I'll confess she did sneak a peek at lesson 2). (Apologies if you're a seasoned music student and don't need to hear such advice, but some others reading this might find that a helpful strategy).



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I'm currently working my way though the OAIM beginner Edel Fox lessons. My goal is to get through the 18 lessons then take a breather for a while before re-subbing.


Things I like:

Edel does variations which you can ignore if you just want to play straight melody, or else use her variations as a guide to ornamentation. She explains more as the lessons progress, eg compare 1st lesson (Maggie in the Woods) with lesson 7, (One Hundred Pipers) which has chords and triplets added. The play along jam recordings are very useful once you're familiar with the tune. There's often more than one version of the play along jam track so you can have a change of instruments. Also on a computer it's possible to download the play along jam track at your preferred speed and so have it accessible on a mobile device.  I also like their VR set tunes, although I only know 2 of them at this stage. If you listen to the playlist on their Youtube channel, and find a tune you really want to learn, it will be one of those VR set list tunes.


There's currently 4 concertina courses -  a beginner, 2 advanced beginner/intermediate and an advanced intermediate level. Also a single lesson tune by an instructor who only appears once. Just recently a 2nd advanced beginner/intermediate course was added, so plenty of course material to keep you busy. Plus many other tunes from various other instrument courses to explore, including their 50 most common session tunes list. So you could spend a long time here learning many tunes if you go outside the concertina lessons.


Things I don't like:

Recording quality of the beginner Edel Fox lessons. Often the concertina is way louder than Edel's voice. So if I have to keep the volume a little low for the neighbours I can't hear what she's saying.

The animations showing which button to push are confusing as it's green button for push on one side of the bellows, and red for pull, but this is reversed for the other hand and I can never remember which way round it is. So I end up learning by ear instead of watching their graphics - which is how it should be - but initially it is helpful to have the buttons to show you the pattern at least.


Edel tends to rush a bit through teaching the tune, as in trying to feed you larger chunks of the tune than is comfortable. (But that's what slowing down the video and re-watching over and over are for anyway.) I noticed this because I've also tried the Irish Concertina Lessons website to compare and I think that teacher's pacing is better for beginner when it comes to teaching by ear.  With her lessons I didn't have to slow it down or repeat sections nearly as much as I do for Edel's lessons.





Edited by Breve
Corrected a reference
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I especially like that the lessons give you the tools and techniques you need to pick up tunes on your own by ear down the road.   Each lesson builds systematically and seldom assumes you know something they haven't taught you yet.    Starting with the melody line only they introduce you to ornaments and chords fairly early on.  I am an ear player who uses music for reference with decades of being a pretty good flute and whistle player, and decades of being a stay at home fiddle player, both in ITM. I'd recommend their classes for anyone who doesn't have an expert down the road. 


The call and response technique of copying a phrase a teacher plays for you is great for training your ear.  And the lessons  also provide sheet music if that is how you roll, as well as mp3s of the tune played through at a slow and slightly faster speed so  you can play along. 



The diagrams were useful to me.  But you don't have to use them if they don't work for you.  Seeing the ango keyboard in your mind's eye and finding it in your hands is important.   Edel's lessons may have started on the Wheatstone layout.  I don't remember.  But they seldom do go up to the right hand accidentals in the beginning lessons.  So the only difference there is: is the C# or the push or the pull.


The videos are presenting the same notes in enough ways you can find the method you wish to focus on within each lesson.

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I recommend you take a look at the video lessons by Caitlin nic Gabhann. She has three online courses Beginners , Intermediate and Advanced. The quality of the videos is excellent with a camera pointing at each hand as well as the head on view. Clear explanation of what she is doing and critically why she is using one alternative button over another.

There are recordings, notation, slow down and loop facilities. In my view the package is superior to that offered by OAIM. 

You can see the free lessons at


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On 9/23/2020 at 7:31 PM, Ralph Cook said:

Breve,  thanks for the info.  I saw lesson 1 and 2 on youtube and can now play Maggie in the Woods, but am ignoring those button diagrams on the screen, yes they are confusing plus I'm somewhat colorblind.  Think I'll try out OAIM.  Thanks again.

As I'm getting towards the end of these beginner lessons now, I've fallen into this approach of how to use those animation graphics. They show me the sequence of buttons to play to make the melody and I don't worry about the red/green buttons and what they mean.  I then watch her bellows which tells me whether to push or pull. Listening as I play along with her confirms whether I have the sequence correct or not. 


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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/3/2020 at 3:23 PM, Johna said:

I'll agree with everything Hillsider has written . This is a well presented clear course . I 'm doing the advanced and find it excellent 

How long do you find a course takes? I realise that will depend on how much you practice, but on average? I was wondering if the 6 month subscription was worth signing up for, or the month-by-month would be more practical.




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  • 2 weeks later...


6 months is far better value.

Put it this way, if the beginner lesson set is 18 tunes, then that's 3 tunes a month to learn. A busy person who is working should be able to fit that into their schedule.  If you have more time, go outside the set of lessons and explore the other tunes offered by other teachers, plus take time to learn to play along with the VR session tunes. Getting up to their full speed can be challenging.

I found that if I pushed myself I could get 2 lesson tunes a week under my belt, but I couldn't keep up that pace for long. After a month of that, I'd drop back to 2 tunes a month. So for me, the time taken to really learn a tune well (fully memorized)  and enjoy the learning process was more valuable than rushing to finish.


As for the ICL course I understand the options are an annual subscription or month by month.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I want to second Caitlín course. I've tried both her course and OAIM and for a multi-instrumentalist the OAIM is a great deal because it allows you to try all the courses when you subscribe but if you're only learning anglo concertina then I think Caitlín's course is much better. She goes through tunes for the most part but adds other things and the course allows you to slow down or speed up any lesson or tune. She also has 3 cameras set up so that you can see her playing in the center and a close up of each of her hands as she plays on either side of her. You can really see exactly what she's doing.

I had been playing for about a year and went through her beginner's course in a few months and then started on the intermediate. I probably should have stayed there and worked my way through all the tunes but once she released the advanced course I got too excited and jumped up. I'm currently loving it and working through the tunes but I'll probably go back to the intermediate once I'm done to get get all those lessons as well.

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  • 2 months later...

There are only two source for online lesson like this...Oaim and Caitlín.

They are both excellent ! But much more lessons at Oaim for the price. With Caitlin, you have to pay a membership for beginner or intermediate or advance. At the time I subscribed, only beginner section, I wasn't too happy because she doesn't teach any ornamentation at all... Glad the intermediate exist now !

I am a concertina beginner but play (read “have fun”) other instruments (guitar, tin whistle,...)...I just can't learn an instrument without knowing where/how/when an ornamentation occurs 🙂 

I would say Oaim first (you have 4 courses !) then Caitlin.  And there is a 14 days free trial at Oaim ! 

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  • 3 weeks later...

So I started with the OAIM because I was doing the Flute & Whistle lessons and became captivated by Edel and decided to get one and try my hand at it. That was a month or so ago and I'm doing her beginner program but I also signed up for a year with OCL's with Caitlin. If you've ever had to pay for lesson for you kids (3 of them) you realize how great a deal these programs are. I've also been a Ukulele student at Artistworks for 4-5 years which is an amazing set up where you submit videos to the instructors and they critique them and your playing. So even with all three of them I don't pay a 1/4 of what I paid annually for my kids who I own all there instrument.....lol.

I think both ladies are very charming and do a lovely job. 


-- Rick (Outside of Boston)

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