SPOONS, BONES, BODHRAN, & PENNYWHISTLES
Booms, Taps, Tinkles, & Toots
American Heritage Series
Participatory Programs For All Ages
TOM CALLINAN, a Master Teaching Artist, who was designated Connecticut's
first "Official State Troubadour" by legislative action in 1991, performs and
teaches songs from: the Irish, early American, and maritime traditions,
along with original compositions reminiscent of those genres. A
multi-instrumentalist, he is self-accompanied on a variety of string, wind,
and percussion instruments, including the bodhran (traditional Celtic frame
drum), spoons, and rhythm bones.
Mr. Callinan uses his original songs and other material in his extensive
repertoire as tools in his celebrated Arts-In-Education programs, which span
K-12th grade, right up to senior citizens. He continues to blend his training
as a teacher with his artistic skills, to create new songs and new musicians.
His presentation of sea chanteys (work songs), punctuated by the primal sound
of a bodhran recalls the days of wooden ships and iron men. Irish and early
American ditties get audiences of all ages clapping and toe-tapping. Spirited
instrumental tunes played on a pennywhistle or ocarina incorporate the use of
selected audience volunteers as a "foo-foo" band, using spoons and other
"found" instruments. His original song, "The IZOD Pirate" employs a
traditional-style nautical sounding melody performed acapella, using
rib-bones as a rhythm instrument. Its absurd, contemporary story-line pokes
fun at "red-pants sailors" and other trendy types.
Spoon-playing is not only an excellent and inexpensive way to provide
personal satisfaction and rhythmic expression for the spoon-player, but it
can stretch the imaginative and creative perceptions while serving as a
motivating tool for people to attempt something new with a familiar item.
Almost anyone can learn the rudiments of playing spoons in about five minutes.