A musical conversation on St. Patrick’s Day

One of my favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day is people playing Irish music. I like Irish music both because it makes good use of the fiddle (or violin, if you prefer) and because I used to play it. A friend of mine sent me a recording of The Bothy Band playing “The Butterfly,” a common slipjig. As I listened, I realized that the musicians were having a conversation. The guitar started out, then stepped back and gave the whistle/flute a turn. Then the pipes held forth, and then all the instruments played variations together. I figure that’s a great example of turn taking in a conversation. If an instrument played too loudly or too long or interrupted another, the song would be a mess. But even the naturally loud pipes showed restraint and waited their turn, because they were playing in a group.

Music is a great teaching tool, from turn taking to math concepts and other languages. And if kids learn to play an instrument, they can develop their motor skills. (And if a kid is like Violet, any noisemaking surface will do.) But music is also just really, really fun! Did you know that even parrots move to music? (Speaking of birds, spot the parrot in this video of musicians from all over the world playing “The Butterfly” at the same time!)

See also: The Tellin’ o’ the Tale booklist

About Amy

Children's librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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