How to play the bodhran? (excerpted from the book “Irish Traditional Music” by Ciaran Carson © 1986 First published and printed by The Appletree Press Ltd)
If you really want to play the bodhran, it would do no harm to observe the following guidelines:
Familiarise yourself as thoroughly as possible with the music before approaching within smelling distance of a goat-skin.
If you can, learn other instrument besides the bodhran. At the very least, you should be able to lilt a selection of about fifty tunes in varying tempos.
If you want to join in a session, ask the other musicians first, or wait until you are asked. This common courtesy should be observed by all musicians, but bodhran players seem to ignore it more than most.
If there is already a bodhran player in the session, forget about it.
If, after the requisite amount of hard work and sensitive listening, your playing is acceptable to other musicians, don´t be afraid to express yourself. The obverse of the ignorant and insensitive is the paranoiac and guilt-ridden player who cannot enjoy himself for fear of spoiling others’ enjoyment.
If you must play the bodhran, then play it.