Traditional Irish Music
I've found myself volunteering to lead a "session" of sorts for absolute, green as can be beginners (with an exception or two) - as in, "some participants may be able to tune their instruments". A couple are musicians already, but have little or no experience in the Irish tradition. Luckily, my lady has enough classical violin and flute under her belt to at least get people making noise on that end, I can handle the whistles and guitars, and we do have one person who's legitimately played Irish trad stuff on fiddle before (while she'll be playing flute for this, she'll at least be on hand to advise). So it's not as hopeless as all that.
The aim here is to get people a) up and playing in a forgiving environment to the point where they could actually learn a tune without one-on-one instruction, and b) to familiarize everyone with the musical tradition (and with session etiquette, especially) so that I can take'em one or two at a time to the local teaching session, and not ruffle any feathers. I'm shooting to have us playing reels and jigs, mainly, but I'm gonna start with some easier stuff just to get us off the ground.
My working list, so far:
Dirty Old Town - I know it isn't Irish ;), but the melody is dead easy on whistle, it has chords to strum along to (the easier to keep beginners on time while I call it), and everybody knows it. We'll probably focus on doing it without vocals for the time being.
Brian Boru's March - I'm starting with the Dmaj version (descending from B down to D), which is the easier version on the whistle, in my estimation. We'll be doing it slow and stately, as a march, for now - later on, we can work up to playing it as a jig, and/or in C (for a good intro to accidentals and the upper octave of the whistle).
Anderson's Reel - I'll get folks listening to this one for a while before anybody attempts it, should be a good first reel if broken down into managable chunks. (There's a nice whistle tutorial from Tradschool up on YouTube, too.)
Concerning Hobbits - The melody from the Lord of the Rings film, of course. Easy to for beginners on the whistle, can be played slow and deliberate or fast and perky, and, again, people know it. Lots of potential for early experiments with ornamentation on this one.
For a little later, I'm thinking about tacking on Cooley's Reel in D, and possibly Sleep Sound ida Moarnin (in Amin/C, another good one to start working in accidentals).
So whadda ya think, folks? Don't be shy, now.
You are a brave soul, and fair play for taking this task on. If I was you I would follow one of the many tutor books that are out there which start with the easy and progress upwards. Looking at a few of these they also seem to tie in with the first tunes I was taught including to begin with
The Dawning of The Day
The Munster Cloak
The Kerry Polka
Some of the easier planxty tunes.
After that I recall many years ago learning initial Jigs such as Connaughtmans Rambles, Old Johns Jig, My Darling Asleep etc. In fact if you looked at Comhaltas Foinn Seisiún Book 1 you will find a good selection of Jigs and reels that seem to be common to most sessions. I suppose it depends on the instruments you have in the group and the level they are at. Find some common ground with tunes that they may already know or part know. Give them some recordings of the tunes with some good notes and away you go.
Off to California
Can I whistle one for ya ? Okay... I will try and remember the name.
Britches Full of Stitches in A is always a great starter tune, and a good one to master down the road as well.
Simple jigs include Tobin's Favorite and Behind the Haystack (three parts, but simple).
If you're really working with beginner beginners, I tend to avoid reels or other longer tune forms until folks are comfortable both learning by ear and with the common patterns in Irish dance music.
My husband would like to suggest Swallowtail Jig and Kesh Jig as good introduction tunes for getting the "pulsing" of jigs down, with jigs that are easier on the fingers for you average whistle player. One of the first tunes I ever learned on the whistle was Road to Lisdoonvarna. Just my $.02.
A really great introductory jig is Bill Harte's - simple to learn and easy to pulse.
All the best!
Reel - The Merry Blacksmith
Jig - Saddle the Pony
Quick to learn and good for developing the "pulse".
Hi Steve - you probably already have more suggestions than you can possibly use! But I'd suggest Jessica's Polka and perhaps a hornpipe or two. I found hornpipes to be reasonably easy to pick up and they are so melodic.
Good luck to you - nice thing you're doing.
Hi Steve, I'm currently learning the fiddle and was looking for some tunes. Found this tune book which I hope will be of some help.