The Blue Ridge Irish Music School (BRIMS) is dedicated to teaching the living art of traditional Irish music, as well as to fostering a dynamic environment for it in our community. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia. BRIMS offers regular classes in Irish traditional music on various instruments, and presents educational workshops, social events, and ceilis. We sponsor master classes and field trips and actively support the local session scene. BRIMS is constantly seeking new opportunities to teach Irish traditional music and its social context to our more than 100 members and our community. Our performing group and instructors perform extensively in the local community, both formally and informally, contributing to its cultural richness and diversity. We are dedicated, in all our educational efforts, to nurturing and supporting musical integrity and the learning process. We always welcome new members.

Irish traditional music was developed by the Irish people, both at home and in countries where they have emigrated in the last several centuries, and is now played and enjoyed by many without any familial connection with Ireland. An oral tradition, Irish traditional music is ideally transmitted from one generation to the next and from musician to musician.

In our early stages, members of BRIMS traveled to Ireland in April 2000 as part of our commitment to teaching and to keeping the tradition alive and true to its roots. By traveling to Ireland, the members of BRIMS discovered the music in its original contexts, learned repertoire, technique, and perspective from local musicians, and returned to Central Virginia able to further enrich the community through performances, session playing, and presentations in the area. Alex Davis, a 13-year-old fiddle student, wrote, “I hope to bring back to the community more tunes to share, stories of new Irish friends, and a deeper sense of what my music and instrument are all about.” Irish traditional music is alive and well in the United States, and its popularity has been steadily growing in Irish-American communities and beyond.

With the quick rise to prominence Irish music and culture have seen in the last few years, the average American listener has access to productions such as Riverdance and even to concerts by Altan, Dervish, and other traditional groups. These increasingly commercialized means of getting the music to the consumer, however, often leave little room for the transmission of context or the traditional musician’s perspective. To musicians in Charlottesville, VA, the urban centers of the East Coast are both geographically and conceptually distant, and without convenient access to urban Irish-American centers such as New York City or Boston, many of our members first discovered the music at concerts and through recordings. They later learned of the non-commercial, social contexts in which the music is most usually found, and now seek opportunities to experience the living tradition.

The Blue Ridge Irish Music School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender, age, or sexual preference in membership or any school administered programs.

Board of Directors
Sherry Olander President
Carrie Dugan Brubaker Treasurer
John Blandin
Wesley Craig
Christopher Welte