This page presents a mélange of inspiring and humourous quotes relating to Irish traditional music with a particular emphasis on the Irish flute and the people who play and teach that wonderful instrument.

Never get one of those cheap tin whistles. It leads to much harder drugs like pipes and flutes.

– an unknown wit

One fear I would always have, even in my class situation, is that the emphasis is on technicality – whereas for me, the whole thing is the feeling and heart and soul. That's what the older musicians had.

To get a good tone you need a tight embouchure. You need to practice tone separately from everything else. Play long notes, and keep adjusting your embouchure until you get a nice tone.

There's no other profession in the world where you can get to meet such amazing characters – the real people of the country that you go to. Music kind of invites you to walk into these lives. They're not great academics, or geniuses – they're just ordinary people, like you and me. That's the lovely thing about music, and it's the same with art and the same with poetry.

It's just the sound of the instrument that appeals to me. I like the sort of expression that one can give. The flute does it for me, I can express what I feel best on that instrument.

Be yourself when playing. Don't try to copy anyone or you'll never really be at ease playing. Just develop your own style naturally.

Playing a flute is like writing a book. You're telling what's in your heart... It's easier to play if it's right from your heart. You get the tone and the fingers will follow.

Try to play musically and dynamically. Play only tunes and songs your mad about. Don't play too fast. Flute players are among the worst in the speeding stakes. Listen to lots of players, not only flutists; emulate what you like and then do your thing.

You have to be one hundred per cent with it for the flute because the sound is coming from the pit of your stomach. You are putting what's keeping you alive into an instrument and by doing that you're making a sound. There's nothing between you and the instrument – it actually becomes part of you.

I'd go out, you see, I'd go out to the field or something and practice, although my mother didn't mind. But I'd go out in the field and I'd practice by myself. And there was a [neighbour] he was an old Peeler, he was retired from the police, the Peelers they called 'em then. And he used to play a bit on the whistle. And he'd be showing me things too, to me out in the field. I remember them good old days!

Music is an act of love.

– Pat Higgins

It's the heart and that's so important in the music. There's a tendency for people to think that they have to be the best technicians and the best at learning all the tunes, but actually it's to do with who you are and not what you play.

– Bob Bickerton

I was just a kid at a folk festival – wandering around practicing the tin whistle. Somebody came up to me and said, "You blow that thing harder to get into the second octave – don't you!" And I said, "Yeah!" Then I went behind a tree and tried it. I discovered that it was actually capable of a second octave and there was no stopping me after that!

– Brendyn Montgomery

Ireland is rich in literature that understands a soul's yearnings, and dancing that understands a happy heart.

– Margaret Jackson

Maybe it's bred in the bone, but the sound of pipes is a little bit of heaven to some of us.

– Nancy O'Keefe

I believe the flute is a very spiritual instrument. The breath is the bridge between the mind and the body. Flute players are always aware of their breath, even when they're not aware of their breath.

Because the flute is a woodland instrument,
I felt incongruous in the desert quiet.
But soon my playing built a decent forest.
It held intact as long as my eyes were closed
and mine was the only sound embroidering
the silence of the afternoon.

(Not strictly an Irish traditional music quote, but these poetic words do speak eloquently of the deep emotions that flute players, and musicians in general, experience.)