Background, professional training and performance history
Eliot Grasso began playing Irish traditional music on the tin whistle at age seven and since then has performed the length and breadth of the United States, Canada, and Europe with such musicians as The Chieftains, Liz Carroll, the Oregon Chorale, Cherish the Ladies, actor Russell Crowe, and the Harrisburg Symphony. Eliot has performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, the home of the Irish Ambassador, and The National Geographic Concert Hall as well as on radio programs such as Radio Telefís Éireann’s “The Rolling Wave” hosted by Peter Browne and Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” Having studied extensively in Ireland since childhood and subsequently as a prodigy in his mid-teens, Eliot has performed for President and Mrs. Clinton at the National Endowment for the Arts Awards alongside Dr. Mick Moloney and The Green Fields of America and placed third in the Fleadh Cheoil na h’Éireann, Ireland’s international traditional music competition. Eliot holds a Bachelors degree in classical music (piano, organ, and musicology) from Goucher College and a Masters degree in ethnomusicology from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland. In addition to teaching uilleann pipes, tin whistle, and music theory at the University of Limerick, Eliot has taught applied traditional music in New York, Belfast, Baltimore, Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Seattle, and Denver at sundry festivals and musical events. In May 2007, he released the latest of three recordings of uilleann piping entitled Up Against the Flatirons, an album commissioned by Na Píobairí Uilleann, the International Society of Uilleann Pipers in Dublin.
Artist statement and teaching philosophy
" My approach to teaching is one in which each lesson is tailored specifically to the student’s interests and needs. There is no standard course of action. If you know what you want to get from the lesson, I can give you that. If you don’t know, I will give you what I think you should have. In most instances, tunes are taught by ear. If desired, I am happy to write music out, but I prefer to emphasize the aural learning of music as it heightens awareness to the sounds you are producing.”
I consider learning to read music essential, but as a supplement to aural learning. The reason ear training is optimal is because it is easier to listen closely to what we’re playing when we don’t have to split our attention with discerning notes on a page. Also, I have found that it is easier to learn to read notes later on than to learn by ear later on. In this way learning music is like learning a foreign language. It is far easier to appropriate pronunciation and inflection of speech early on and to become literate later.
An overriding tenet of my teaching style is to choose music the student actually likes or wishes to learn. Learning music requires a significant time investment, so you may as well be working with material that suits you, material you will enjoy practicing for hours. Whatever the tune, it then becomes a vehicle for technique, ornamentation, and variation.
I believe that it is important to have a foundational understanding of basic harmony and promote musicianship. Such knowledge facilitates a firmer grasp of the music at hand. In all instances, well-rounded musicianship is ideal.”
“I have been playing since childhood and find joy in sharing what I have learned. A teacher is, and perhaps should be more than most, well-acquainted
with the perpetual nature of learning.” ."
Instruments & classes taught
Eliot Grasso teaches Irish flute, fiddle, tin whistle, and uilleann pipes.