About Me                  


Hi, my name is Sascha and I am the author of this website about the Irish frame drum, called the bodhrán. How did I pick up playing this drum with the strange name?

Like many others, everything started with a profound love for music in general. Traditional Irish music appealed to me in particular because of its uplifting, engaging rhythms. In younger years, I used to play drums in a band and learned to play timpani in the conservatory. When I planned a vacation in Ireland quite a few years ago, it was obvious to me that I would not return to Germany without bringing a Bodhrán with me.

I had no clue what to look for in a good bodhrán, but I decided to avoid stores that were obvious tourist traps. I eventually purchased a simple drum in a Cork music store, along with a tipper (that's what you call those odd wooden beaters you need for playing) as well as a nylon bag for the new instrument. In a bookstore nearby, I found Steáfán Hannigan's Bodhrán Basics plus Music-Cassette, an introductory tutorial booklet aimed at beginners. With my last Irish Pounds, I finally bought Mícheál O'Súilleabháin's The Bodhrán at the Dublin Airport.

The Quest: Hardware and Technique

Now I was well-equipped with drum and learning materials. The tutorials gave a fine introduction to holding the tipper and striking the drum, explained basic forms of reels and jigs. Hannigan, though, said a lot on the cassette that didn't really relate to playing technique. O'Súilleabháin on the other hand, came across as somewhat academic, with a complicated notation and abstract descriptions.
Moreover, I didn't really like the sound of my new bodhrán. Instead of an earthy "boom", it produced a hard, high-pitched "plank". Also, I discovered that the goatskin was pretty rough on the outside, and hence the tipper was scratching audibly over the drum skin.

My enthusiasm was accordingly dimmed, the drum was stowed in the bag, and only occasionally it came out for sporadic play. But then, I discovered the German Bodhrán Forum in the internet, a true treasure trove with all kinds of news and information on the bodhrán. For instance, there I learned that you could tune down a non-tuneable drum like mine permanently by applying glycerin to the skin. Through the forum, I also was able to contact a player in my region, who not only told me my drum was not so bad after all, but also suggested that I get rid of the drum's crossbar and that I could reduce the strong overtones of my drum simply by taping the skin on the edges with insulating tape. (Caveat: Please be aware that with some cheap drums, taking out the crosspiece can lead to serious deformation of the frame!)

Now the drum indeed sounded considerably better. I was quick to acquire Frank Torpey's Bodhrán CD Rom Tutorial, where I could watch virtual Frank play the drum in little quicktime movies. The CD was another stepping stone for me, even if I didn't fully succeed in mastering the advanced lessons of the tutorial (e.g. triplets). This was the time when I decided to attend a real bodhrán workshop: First, to get hands-on instruction from a real teacher, second, because I now wanted to get a better drum. And I knew drums would be offered for sale at those workshops.

The Bodhrán Weekend in Vollmerz

Thus in September '07, I attended the 12th Bodhrán Weekend in Vollmerz, taught by Rolf Wagels and Guido Plüschke. Drum-wise and also in many other respects a very rewarding experience! Finally, I was taught personally how to properly play the drum, and I was proud to realize that I had already gained a little bodhrán-playing skill beforehand through my practicing. Properly motivated, I got a RWE-Bodhrán made by drum maker Christian Hedwitschak, a few tippers and a pattern collection plus CD for further practising.

Status Quo

The drum not only is gorgeous to look at, it also sounds brilliant. It is a real pleasure to practice with the new instrument. Gone are the times where the old, scratchy drum was packed away in frustration. Now I practice almost every day, if only for a few minutes, unless I am out of town for business. Slow and steady wins the race!


In October '08, I attended the 14th Bodhrán-Weekend, again in Vollmerz. It was then that I bought "the other" Signature Line Drum made by Christian Hedwitschak, the GPS-Bodhrán.