Meet the Musician
1. At what age did you start playing music and who taught you?
My earliest recollection of playing music was at the age of 5 years. I started on the tin whistle at home. I got music lessons on the button accordion from Mrs. Mary Lyons in Tynagh when I was six. When I was in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th classes in Kilnadeema National School, I learned the tin whistle from
Bernie Stapleton. Then in 5th and 6th class Mrs. Lyons started group music lessons in the school and I attended them also.
2. How many instruments do you play?
Nine in total.
I started with lessons on the tin whistle and button accordion. My father taught me the guitar. Ten years ago I bought a traditional flute and I taught myself how to play it. I also have a Concert flute; I play the piano/keyboard and the piano accordion as well. Seven years ago I bought a Jupiter alto saxophone and I also taught myself how to play it, I can play the bodhrán too.
I was a member of the Loughrea Pipe Band in which I played the drums.
3. Have you got a favourite traditional music instrument?
I hate to see this question coming up, but if I had to choose I suppose I would say the traditional flute because it is the instrument that I enjoy playing the most.
4. Yvonne, you are a music teacher, how many pupils do you teach? Tell us a bit your teaching career,,,,,.
I first started teaching music to children back in September 1993. I started off with a small class but over the years it has progressed in leaps and bounds. I try to get as many of the children involved in events and competitions as I can. I have numerous students involved at County, Connacht and All-Ireland level. I have been involved myself down through the years in Fleadh's as recently as last years County, Connacht and All-Ireland Fleadh in Enniscorthy in Wexford, where unfortunately we did not get placed, but it was a great experience. In 1995, I was the County champion on tin whistle and flute 0-18 at the County Fleadh Cheoil that was held in Killimor, Co. Galway.
For the last three years I have been taking part with the school of music in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Loughrea. I had a float with both Junior and senior musicians playing on it.
For the last two years I have held a music recital also for the school of music. This involves each child from the ages of four upwards, and they perform on a stage in front of a live audience. I think it is very important for children what ever their standard be able to stand up and perform. I am the Treasurer for the second year with Kilnadeema C.C.E. I have worked with the children of the branch in various different levels. Last year I coached one of the U-12 ceili bands for the County Fleadh Cheoil in Dunmore.
5. Do you have a favourite traditional music player that you admire?
I cannot say that I could pick one musician that I admire the most because there are so many talented musicians in the country, but I really admire the older musicians who still have time to play a tune with you, and I love to hear their stories about when then were young and what tunes they learned through sessions.
6. Do you play with any band, when did you form the band/name of band/How many are in the band/Do you play locally?
Yes I play in a band. My father formed the band some years ago. The name of the band is "Tailor's Twist". The band members include my father who plays guitar, button accordion and drums, and my brother on keyboards. The drummer is from Loughrea and he also plays the saxophone and I play the guitar, tin whistle, flute and saxophone in the band. You could find us playing anywhere from Co. Galway, Clare, Mayo or Roscommon.
7. Have you any other pastimes other than music?
Yes, I enjoy swimming and when I have a night off from teaching or playing music, I enjoy socialising with my friends.
Our branch secretary Louise Costello did the interview. Louise and Yvonne represented Connacht in the duet and trio competitions at the All Ireland Fleadh in Enniscorthy last year.