My children love music of every kind. They love to listen to it, and they love to make instruments to play. We’ve made several instruments in the past, but this time I thought they should learn a little about the island on which they live. Today we’re sharing how the children made a bodhran drum.
My first summer here in Northern Ireland I had the great pleasure to meet Seamus O’Kane, a world-famous bodhran maker while at a friend’s music festival. As it turned out he lived just a couple of farms away. I went along with a couple of friends the next morning to see his workshop and to learn how they were made. Truth be told, we were actually there to see an ancient land formation, and this was definitely a huge bonus to learn about Bodhran-making. Seamus was very accommodating considering it was a Sunday morning and he’s been up late the night before entertaining us during a traditional Irish music session. But he welcomed us into his workshop and let us have a wee look around.
Bodhrans are traditional Irish drums that you will hear in traditional Irish music. They have a unique sound and beautiful to listen to. I find the bodhran a soothing sound, while at the same time it can be very energetic.
Last summer we were on a roll making musical instruments with Daria’s rainsticks and washer boards. When I came across some leather scraps in the attic I thought it would be fun for the kids to make their own percussion instrument to add to their collection which also includes wrist bells, and hose shakers and whirrers.
Our Bodhran drum supplies
To make our bodhran drum we used a hard plastic band we’d picked up at a scrap store, some leather/pleather, waxed string I’d used for making our seashell necklace, a leather punch, and a needle.
How we made a child’s bodhran drum
Tristan placed the plastic circle on the leather and traced around it, leaving enough space for the leather to be folded up over to the back of the band. He then cut this out.
I did the next step for Tristan. I used the leather punch to make holes around the edge of the leather, about 1.5 – 2cm apart.
Tristan threaded the needle and sewed up the edges of the leather around the circular band. I helped him to pull it tight and knot it off.
That’s all the work it took! In fact, making the bodhran was much quicker to produce that the time it’s taken me to produce this blog post about it!!
To play our bodhran, the children raided their craft cupboard and found a thick paintbrush to use with it.
You can hear Seamus O’Kane both making and playing his bodhran on his webpage here. Below is just one of the videos that you’ll find.
One night at our camera club we were pleased to have a surprise model for our shoot:
It’ll be a while before we can take the children to a traditional music session down at a pub. I hear there’s one within walking distance of us, but we’ve never been. It’s always good craic (Irish for fun).
I’d love to hear how you encourage your children to gain an appreciation for music!
To see all of our musical adventures, dance on over to our music page!