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Irish Washerwoman (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

Irish Washerwoman

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg ventures into the exciting world of the double jig. As a demonstration, he teaches a song entitled "Irish Washerwoman."

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Celtic Guitar seriesLength: 27:13Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:38) Musical Introduction Sit back and enjoy Steve's performance of the classic tune "Irish Washerwoman."
Chapter 2: (05:03) Lesson Introduction and Double Jigs Song Background

"Irish Washerwoman" was originally an English tune that made its way into Ireland and gained popularity there. It depicts the difficulties of domestic labor.


When I was at home I was merry and frisky,
My dad kept a pig and my mother sold whiskey,
My uncle was rich, but never would by aisey (easy)
Till I was enlisted by Corporal Casey.
Och! rub a dub, row de dow, Corporal Casey,
My dear little Sheilah, I thought would run crazy,
When I trudged away with tough Corporal Casey.

I marched from Kilkenny, and, as I was thinking
On Sheilah, my heart in my bosom was sinking,
But soon I was forced to look fresh as a daisy,
For fear of a drubbing from Corporal Casey.
Och! rub a dub, row de dow, Corporal Casey!
The devil go with him, I ne'er could be lazy,
He struck my shirts so, ould Corporal Casey.

We went into battle, I took the blows fairly
That fell on my pate, but they bothered me rarely,
And who should the first be that dropped, why, and please ye,
It was my good friend, honest Corporal Casey.
Och! rub a dub, row de dow, Corporal Casey!
Thinks I you are quiet, and I shall be aisey (easy),
So eight years I fought without Corporal Casey.

Chord Progression

Standard notation and tablature to all musical examples presented in the lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

"Irish Washerwoman" is typically played in the key of G major. Steve demonstrates the song in this key. As expected, the chord progression features the I, IV, and V chords in this key. Respectively, these chords are G, C, and D.

Chord Voicings

In this scene, Steve plays through the progression using basic "open" chord voicings for the I, IV, and V chords. In later scenes, he demonstrates some alternate voicings that will enable you to produce a more authentic Celtic sound.

Note: Fretboard diagrams with proper left hand fingerings to all chords discussed in the lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Strumming Patterns

In the first Celtic lesson, Steve demonstrated two different ways to perform a jig strumming pattern. A jig is most often played with a strict alternating strumming pattern. Or, a repeating down-up-down pattern can be applied to each group of three eighth notes. Since the song is typically played at rapid tempos, the non-alternating strumming pattern is not as practical from a technical perspective. The non-alternating pattern also produces a heavy accent on beat 4 of each measure that is not quite appropriate for the feel of the song.

Song Form

Similar to "The Rakes of Mallow," "Irish Washerwoman" features an AABB song form.

Practice Time

Pause the lesson video and practice the progression. Always remember to practice with a metronome! Since the song is played in 6/8 time, set the JamPlay metronome to click on beats 1 and 4 of each measure. When you feel ready, return to the lesson video and play the progression along with Steve at 02:16. At this point in the lesson, he demonstrates the A section at roughly half of the desired performance tempo. He provides a play along example for the B section at 03:25. This play along example is much closer to the performance tempo.

Additional Practice Tips

Be careful of the quick chord changes that occur at the end of the form. A few of the changes occur in the middle of the measure instead of on the first beat. For example, watch out for the rapid C to G chord changes that happen at the end of the B section. If you have a hard time nailing a specific chord change, drill it slowly along with a metronome until it becomes automatic.
Chapter 3: (02:12) Alternate Strum Pattern Steve demonstrates the second strumming option in this scene. Use a down-up-down strumming pattern for each group of three eighth notes. Now, each stressed beat (beats 1 and 4) are played with a heavy down strum. Typically, this strumming pattern is used to play single jigs. However, it can also be applied to double jigs to create a slightly different rhythmic feel.

Practice Time

Practice this strumming variation with the progression. Play with a metronome to ensure that your rhythm remains precise and consistent. When you feel ready, play through the progression along with Steve at 00:56.
Chapter 4: (02:19) Reel vs Jig People have a naturally tendency towards playing in compound meter or simple meters. If you find either type of time signature to be more difficult for you, spend some extra time practicing it until you feel equally comfortable with both.

Simple Meter

A simple meter is a time signature or in which each beat divides equally into two equal parts.

A reel is played in a simple meter. Within compound meters, eighth notes are placed in groups of three. As a result, the rhythm consists of a steady triplet feel.

Compound Meter

Compound meters are time signatures in which eighth notes are placed in groupings of three. Some common examples are 6/8, 12/8, and 9/8. The jig (often spelled gigue or giga) is played in 6/8 or 12/8. A slight accent is placed on the first eighth note in each group of 3.

Since eighth notes are placed in groups of threes in these types of meters, compound meters have a steady triplet feel. This rhythm is usually played steadily by the drummer on the hi-hat or ride cymbal in the context of a band.

Review of Double Jigs

A double jig is played in 6/8 time and features two groups of three eighth notes per bar. A single jig can be written in 6/8 or 12/8, and features a rhythmic pattern of a quarter note followed by an eighth note.
Chapter 5: (04:09) The Melody A. Pickup Note

The melody to "Irish Washerwoman" begins with a D pickup note played as an eighth note. Remember that a pickup is a note or notes that occur before the first complete measure of the song. It leads into the first full measure.

B. Key of the Song

Most Celtic tunes are played in major keys such as D and G because they feature several open string notes. This is the case with "Irish Washerwoman." It is played in G major. Regardless of whether you choose to play the melody in first or second position, always use open string notes whenever possible.

C. Right Hand

Since this melody is played at fast tempos, use strict alternate picking or economy picking. For information on economy picking technique, refer to lesson 8 of Brad Henecke's Phase 2 Speed and Technique Series .

D. Sequences

This melody is built from sequences. For more information about sequences and how they can be used, refer to lessons 12 and 13 of Matt Brown's Phase 2 Rock series.
Chapter 6: (01:50) Finishing Up the A Part Learn the remaining parts to the A section from the notation provided. Then, practice the A part along with Steve in this scene.
Chapter 7: (04:15) B Part of the Melody The B section of the melody is built from sequences as well. In contrast to the A section, the sequences begin on lower chord tones to provide a different melodic sound that is still quite similar to the A section. This creates a sense of unity within the piece.

At the end of the B section, the note G is played as a pedal tone against a line that descends in stepwise motion. Pay careful attention to the picking pattern that Steve uses for this section. He plays the lower note with a down stroke. The lower note is always followed by two eighth notes played on G. Both G notes are played with upstrokes. You may also want to experiment with playing this section with alternate picking. Spend significant time with both picking options. Then, use the option that feels most comfortable to you.

Since the G note is repeated, do not accent it. In these scenarios, the moving line (descending line) is always the most important. Consequently, the G notes should be played quieter than the more interesting, moving voice.
Chapter 8: (00:41) Playing the B Part of the Melody Practice the B section of the melody on your own with a metronome. Then, return to the lesson video and play it along with Steve in this scene.
Chapter 9: (01:06) Playing the Whole Melody Play the melody along with Steve. If you make any mistakes, simply keep going. Address any mistakes after the conclusion of your performance.
Chapter 10: (02:09) Play Along Steve provides the chordal accompaniment to the song while you have an opportunity to play through the melody. He sings the melody line to help you stay on track.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

timsunderlandtimsunderland replied on December 8th, 2013

I'm confused as how to tap my foot with this strum pattern

bengoshabengosha replied on February 19th, 2013

Love this lesson! Thanks, Steve!

paulkpaulk replied on January 24th, 2010

Wow - I'm a jig person!! Kind of got bored with the Rakes of Mallow although I achieved it but am picking this up almost blind folded - wonder if I should have moved on sooner! on that bomb shell I'm off to get some sleep!

pbarte01pbarte01 replied on June 30th, 2011

I love this!! Does anyone know if Steve has done the higher octave version on Jamplay (or elsewhere)?

xray1danxray1dan replied on April 13th, 2011

me too!

kalel8002kalel8002 replied on January 30th, 2009

I am a total beginner, but this is a motivational song for me as I am an Irish lad and my wife is Irish also, miss the home town but good to hear traditional tunes. Yes I know I got to pay more attention and search the different beginner lessons but we all got to try and aim at something :-) Thank you

currannicurranni replied on January 23rd, 2009

finally thanks steve

jboothjbooth replied on January 23rd, 2009

The supplemental content should be up soon folks :)

Celtic Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Celtic music is a rich, diverse style filled with hundreds of years of culture and beauty. This style of guitar attempts to capture the rich cultural heritage of the music and transfer it into the world of guitar. From reels to jigs to horn pipes, Steve will get you well on your way.

Lesson 1

Introduction to Celtic Guitar

Steve Eulberg introduces Celtic guitar in this lesson. He will talk about the history of the music and cover some basics such as rhythm and timing.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

The Rakes of Mallow

Steve Eulberg talks more about the reel rhythm and teaches "The Rakes of Mallow" as a demonstration.

Length: 39:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Irish Washerwoman

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg ventures into the exciting world of the double jig. As a demonstration, he teaches a song entitled "Irish Washerwoman."

Length: 27:13 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

The Road to Lisdoonvarna

In this lesson Steve Eulberg talks about the single jig style of playing and teaches the song "The Road to Lisdoonvarna" as an example.

Length: 29:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Air Fa La La Lo

In this lesson Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic song entitled "Air Fa La La Lo." This song is heaps of fun to play and sing along with.

Length: 26:59 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

O Waly, Waly

Steve Eulberg teaches a hauntingly beautiful Celtic song called "O Waly, Waly" in this lesson.

Length: 19:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Rickett's Hornpipe

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic piece entitled "Rickett's Hornpipe."

Length: 24:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Another Jig Will Do

Steve takes you into the world of slip jigs using the song "Another Jig Will Do" as an example.

Length: 36:43 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

The Lilting Banshee

Steve explains and demonstrates the double jig. He uses "The Lilting Banshee" as an example.

Length: 34:26 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Celtic Guitar Resources

Steve talks about some great resources for learning Celtic songs and lyrics.

Length: 12:47 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

O'Keefe's Slide

In this lesson, Steve teaches the Celtic tune "O'Keefe's Slide."

Length: 27:47 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Rocky Road to Dublin 1

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic tuned titled "Rock Road to Dublin 1."

Length: 32:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

The Rose Garden Reel

Steve teaches a great Celtic tune called "The Rose Garden Reel."

Length: 19:02 Difficulty: 3.0 FREE
Lesson 14

O'Keefe's Slide Part 2

Steve Eulberg presents his second installment of "O'Keefe's Slide." Here he demonstrates melodic embellishments known as ornaments. Steve explains two new ornaments that can be incorporated into the melody....

Length: 23:20 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

O'Keefe's Slide Part 3, The Final Ornaments

Steve completes "O'Keefe's Slide" by demonstrating the final ornaments. Studying this lesson will leave you with a better knowledge of how to add ornaments to a Celtic style song.

Length: 25:17 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Kesh Jig

Steve Eulberg teaches a Celtic song entitled "Kesh Jig." Here Steve provides a demonstration of both the rhythm and melody parts. The song is presented in standard tuning as well as open G tuning.

Length: 20:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Open G Tuning - Celtic Application

Steve Eulberg breaks down open G tuning and demonstrates how it it can be used in Celtic music.

Length: 11:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Kesh Jig in Open G Tuning

Steve revisits the Celtic tune "Kesh Jig" now that he has covered open G tuning. Working in conjunction with lessons 16 and 17, this lesson explains how the tune can be played by a multiple guitar ensemble....

Length: 21:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Swallow Tail Jig

Steve teaches an old Celtic song entitled "Swallow Tail Jig." Here you will learn the chord progressions that harmonize the A and B sections of the melody.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

After the Battle of Aughrim

Steve presents a lesson on an old Irish song called "After the Battle of Aughrim." In this lesson you will learn the chord progression and three different ways to play the melody.

Length: 25:23 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Scottish Strathspey - Brachanlom

How does a pocket full of nickels and dimes help teach you an old Scottish song? Find out how in this lesson on the strathspey "Brachanlom."

Length: 22:01 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Steve presents another great Celtic guitar lesson. He covers "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." Enjoy!

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

Reluctant Bus Boy

Welcome to this unique Celtic song lesson entitled "Reluctant Bus Boy!" This song was written by Steve Eulberg himself and was inspired by his son.

Length: 16:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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