Talented musician Michael McCague explains how to use drop D tuning in playing traditional guitar.

Monaghan guitarist among stars making trad music lessons freely available

Monaghan guitarist Michael McCague is among the top performers offering free courses in a new traditional Irish music hub.

The online resource is available on Alison.com and offers certified courses at Beginner, Beginner 2 and Intermediate Levels in fiddle, Irish traditional guitar, bodhrán, flute, tin whistle, concertina, button accordion and voice. Most of the tutors have been all-Ireland champions as soloists or in groups and many are multi-award-winning.

Michael McCague comes from a well-known musical family in Scotstown and has graced many well known bands At The Racket, At First Light and Teada. He also has a well received self-penned album The Waylaid Man.

Michael's three courses on Alison.com are perfect for anyone wanting to learn to play guitar using Drop D tuning.


He loves the freedom that providing accompaniment gives him. “It’s not like pop music where the melody is written and then the chords are charted out. In traditional music the tunes are written or handed down and you just have to find a way to provide the harmony or the chords. It’s a totally open template so there’s great freedom in that but also great challenges in how you establish what your chords are and what your arrangement is. You’ve got a lot of freedom with Irish music.”

He would encourage anyone to learn to play Irish music.

“There’s a good community of people in Irish traditional music. They’re very non-judgemental. It can be quite hard to get involved in some music genres, unless you start your own band. But with Irish music you can always go and join a local session group. It’s a living music.”

In addition to Michael the other traditional music tutors include:

Sean-nós singing - Nell Ní Chróinín, all-Ireland champion, winner of the singing prize in the TG4 Musician of the Year and lead vocalist with Danú.

Bodhrán - Dermot Sheedy, Fleadh Cheoil winner and drummer with top band Hermitage Green.

Flute and tin whistle - Brian O’Loughlin, Fleadh Cheoil winner and member of the triple all-Ireland winning Shandrum Ceili Band.

Concertina - Conor O’Loughlin, Fleadh Cheoil winner, former winner of the prestigious Siansa Gael Linn competition with the group Dúchas and member of The Conifers.

Button Accordion - Conor Connolly, all-Ireland champion and 2019 Young Irish Musician of the Year.

Fiddle - Doireann Ní Ghlacáin, recording artist, and TG4’s live music presenter. In addition to teaching the fiddle lessons, Doireann also organised the courses, professionally filmed by fellow musician Liam O’Brien.

Check out the Traditional Irish Music Hub at https://alison.com/tag/traditional-irish-music