Brenda teaches pennywhistle to all ages, children and adults. She leads pennywhistle classes through Portland Community College and teaches individuals in her home. Many of her students have banded together to take very affordable small group classes, which she can help arrange. Her emphasis is on traditional Irish pennywhistle style, with attention to ornaments and clear rhythm.
Jim teaches classical and folk-style guitar to all ages, as well as button accordion and concertina to those who want to learn to play Irish music on these instruments.
They encourage their students to play by ear, for many reasons: 1) Once you learn a tune by ear, you never forget it--even if you want to! 2) You have to listen very hard to learn a tune by ear, and in the process you can't help but learn subtleties of style and ornaments as well. 3) It is these very subtleties that make the music you play sound Irish, and that is the sound they both love and are trying to pass on. AND.....4) You can play in the dark!
What you need to take lessons: your instrument (if pennywhistle, then it must be in D; if concertina or accordion, consult with Jim about what key and where to buy) and some method of recording parts of the lesson. When you come for your lesson, Jim or Brenda will play some tunes for you to record, so that you can remind yourself of how the tunes go while you're at home. You should listen to the tunes many, many times, and then when you sit down to actually play them yourself, you'll find it a bit easier because the tunes are in your head.
Most of their students take lessons once a week or every other week, but this is totally variable. Their goal is to make you independent of them as quickly as possible by instilling in you a good sense of Irish style and the ability to learn more tunes from the many phenomenal CDs available today. How long or how often you study with them all depends on you!