HOW TO MUSIC – A Guide to the University of Limerick (UL) Music Scene – by UL International student ambassador Katelyn M Dietz
As a music major at my home university, I’m obviously very inclined to hear and participate in as many music-related events and clubs as I can handle, but even more generally as a student studying abroad in a brand new country with its own distinct culture and tradition, I think there’s no better way to understand a community than to get a glimpse of their day-to-day soundtrack. Whether you’re a casual music appreciator or a virtuoso musician, here are just a few of the ways I’ve found to take advantage of the music scene of UL and Limerick City.
What To Listen To
- Stay Close to Home! Between The Stables and Scholars clubs right on campus, there are almost nightly events like open mic nights, live rock and trad bands from all over Ireland, DJs and trad sessions, and even karaoke on Wednesdays.
- Check Out the University Concert Hall! UL brings a wide variety of ensembles and acts to play the auditorium in the Foundation Building, and international students get emails almost weekly about claiming free tickets to these events. Keep an eye on your email and get in early the day they go on offer, because tickets are often in high demand. Already I’ve personally gotten free tickets to music and dance revue Celtic Steps, classical ensemble Camerata Ireland, and UL’s own ensemble-in-residence – the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
(The cast of Celtic Steps at the University Concert Hall!)
- Explore Pub Culture! While it’s worth experiencing the Irish nightclub scene, consider spending a night out at a pub or venue that advertises live music instead. Basically every city and town in Ireland has pubs and bars with nearly nightly performances by live bands or traditional musicians that can you give a healthy dose of acoustic folk and pop music. A few Limerick options are Dolans, Smyths Bar, The Office Bar, The Orchard, and The Still House. Check out http://www.limerick.ie/visiting/foodanddrink/pubs for a more comprehensive list!
(Trad musicians at Dolans!)
- Pop Over to the Academy! Right across the Living Bridge to the North Campus is the Irish Academy of Music and Dance, where you can check out all sorts of performances by singers, dancers, and traditional musicians. Tuesdays at 1:15 is the weekly Lunchtime Concert series with visiting artists giving free casual performances. And you can almost always hear a few traddies (traditional music students) jamming out in the lobby.
(A Lunchtime Concert with guest artist, the violinist of Riverdance!)
How To Get Involved
- Join Music Society! For just €5, an Erasmus or Study Abroad student can join one of the best societies on campus. As of 2013, the Music Society became an amalgamation of 4 smaller societies: the Glee Society, the DJ Society, the Irish Traditional Music Society, and the Music Society itself. Through these groups, you can sing and dance with Glee, join in on jam sessions with the traddies, get lessons on running a DJ desk, and even DJ your own gigs. If you’re looking for a more hands-on behind-the-scenes look at how Music Soc runs their countless gigs and guest performances, the Music Soc Techs are always looking for new people to train as sound technicians and engineers. Complete beginners are always welcomed, and societies are always one of the best ways to integrate and meet new people!
- Take a Class! International students are highly encouraged to get involved with the Academy through a module designed specifically for complete beginners to Irish music and dance. The Irish Traditional Music module offers lectures in the basics of traditional music, song, and dance, as well as specialized tutorials in your choice of song, dance, tin whistle, or bodhrán (a traditional Irish drum). These tutorials culminate in an end-of-the-semester showcase of your new skills that you can invite all your new friends to! If you are a music major in your home country or have a stronger background in music, song, or dance, the Academy is also very flexible in offering other modules more suited to your skills. I am personally in ensembles like Gospel, Chant, and Music Theatre, as well as classes in Songwriting and gigging as a soloist, and private lessons in Vocal Technique and Traditional Song. If you have a real interest in studying alongside the Voice, Dance, and Music students, just inquire with the Academy when you arrive about all the options available to you!
(BA Voice and Dance students in our Songwriting and Solo Performance class!)
- Get Lessons! The Music Society also offers instrumental lessons in the Student Union, perfect for polishing your skills or learning a whole new instrument.
- Attend Some Sessions! If you already play a traditional instrument or want to start learning, look into a variety of free sessions that you can attend to learn some new tunes. For example, Dolan’s has Free Traditional Irish music sessions EVERY NIGHT all year round, and are happy to welcome new faces to join in or just sit and experience the live music atmosphere. If you’re more of a singer than a musician, be on the lookout for open song sessions.