Home Reviews - Book Reviews Tommy Hayes - Bodhran Bones and Spoons
Tommy Hayes - Bodhran Bones and Spoons

Tommy Hayes - Bodhran Bones and SpoonsBodhrán Bones & Spoons - Tommy Hayes

PAL Video - no accompanying written material


Purchased from from £16.99 (€25 / $30 approx)

Published 1995 by Waltons

No ISBN reference - Order reference 1401 [?]

    Format: Video
    Length: 1h 45m.
    Bodhran Target audience: Beginner to advanced
    Playing Styles Demonstrated: Traditional 'Kerry', Limerick, Donegal, Roscommon, West Cork & Tommy's own unique style. Bones and Spoons

This review assumes that players are right-handed - left handed players should reverse any references.

This review assumes that players are right-handed - left handed players should reverse any references.

The package

A video cassette in a standard plastic box with a paper cover

Lesson delivery method

The user plays the video and follows a tutorial, pausing & playing or playing along.

Tutorial Structure


Sitting and holding the bodhran

Hand Styles (7 Mins into the video)

Demonstration of the Donegal and Roscommon (hand) styles

Donegal / Roscommon with band

Hand style syncopation & ornamentation and

Demonstration of an unusual 'West Cork' knuckle style

West Cork With Band

Tipper Styles (18 mins)

West Limerick

Kerry (20 mins)

The Kerry style is discussed and demonstrated with a degree of detail although Tommy moves directly from holding and striking with the tipper, to syncopations in 4/4 time and then into demonstration & illustration of triplets. All of which is which is a diversion from the usual approach pattern of reels then jigs . At this stage I wasn't aware of any mention of the jig or reel format. This tutorial style is accessible and effective albeit alternative to the standard tutition format. The basic playing patterns are demonstrated in one of many excellent band performances.

Following the performance Tommy moves straight into the left hand tutorial illustrating a number of basic hand positions and movements (26 mins). There wasn't a great deal of detail here, staying on four main variations, but certainly sufficient to get you started and thinking about some of the the possible variations in tone.

Rimshots were next and Tommy moved from a drum without crossbars to one with crossbars, I was disappointed as I play with a drum without crossbars and would have appreciated seeing his techniques for holding and playing at the same time. He did use the crossbar-less drum for the demonstration with musicians but there was not the same degree of detail. That's a minor personal gripe however :)

Tommy's own Style (Tape count 35 minutes)

Tommy spends 10 minutes introducing and demonstrating his own style, this style is described as akin to an inverted Kerry style. Here the top of the stick plays the leading role and the ring finger provides what Tommy calls the 'engine'. The style is very unorthodox compared with anything that I have seen before but clearly it is extremely effective, or Tommy makes it so. It does have some limitations when compared to the Kerry style as is pointed out, although it brings several new playing options.

This is the style that is used for the remainder of the tutorial. I found this extremely interesting I thought that much of the remainder of the tutorial would be only applicable were I to be playing in Tommy's 'frontloader' style however I found many of the bits and pieces translatable. I must admit to struggling with the upstroke in Tommy's style myself.

The tutorial goes on to cover

roll variations

roll and rim




other Left hand activities



There's a baker's sixteen in there somewhere too :)

Jigs (@ 70 minutes tape time approx)

two main styles of jig patterns are demonstrated in an easy to follow manner and in Tommy's own style of play. By this stage I had become quite used to translating Tommy's technique to my own and was quite happily playing along, Tommy's qute a groover!.

The Bodhran section finishes off with a further explanation and demonstration of:

slip jig 9/8; slide 12/8; and jig variations and ornamentation that'll give you nightmares

The band play us out with a fine excerpt from the Humours of Ballyloughlin

finish @ 80 minutes

So, what did I think?

Tommy has taken a unique approach to this tutorial, he has covered more ground by far than any other single tutorial resource I have seen. The ground has not been covered without due care to pass on relevant information and I could see this being a viable tool for a bodhrani at any stage.

Tommy comes across as a friendly and experienced tutor and his band were excellent, comprising top Irish Musicians (& Australian Steve Cooney who is an absolute monster player)

Any niggles I had are minor, I found the audio to be quiet and sometimes the auto record levels meant that his voice became lost behind the sound of the drum. The set was garish and hard on the eye but I'm picking nits here.

As a tutorial, this is excellent as regards the passing on of information that is relevant, it is also chock full of interesting information and great grooves. The use of Tommy's own style for much of the tutorial is not a difficulty if you can make the translation to your own style. I was fascinated for a lot of it and very much enjoyed the unorthodox nature of the work.

Value for money

Super value, I can't help think of Pete Ryan's tutorial at the same price or Mad For Trad's CD-ROM at almost double the price and realise there really is no comparison in the bang for your buck to a beginner or progressing player.

Am I glad I bought it?

Yes, very.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, and I will.

Reviewed by Paul Marshall (January 2004)

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