Debi's Bodhran Page

For Christine Lavin's video of Debi performing her bodhran lesson song CLICK HERE.  A whimsical take on how to play the bodhran in 6 minutes!  Don't have a bodhran, no problem!  Debi illustrates that a big book and a spoon will do.  Debi performs this song with The Four Bitchin' Babes, and Christine Lavin, who toured with the group in March of 2018, made this video. "The Bodhran Lesson Song"  by Debi Smith, c. 2018 Degan Music/ASCAP.

Debi's song, "The Bodhran Lesson Song," available for download on CDBaby (coming soon to iTunes and the rest : ) CLICK HERE

"The Bodhran Lesson Song" for lyrics CLICK HERE

I have been playing the bodhran (Irish drum) since 1978.  I learned to play the instrument when I was in a D.C.-based all women Irish group, "The Hags."  The members of the group at that time were Ivy Harper, Wendy Morrison, Linda Davis, and Terry O'Neill.  Other members of the group included Mary Chapin Carpenter, Grace Griffith, Lisa Moscatiello, and more.  The lead singer I replaced (her first name was Megan, sorry I don't remember her last!) also played the bodhran, and I was asked if I would like to take it up!  I instantly fell in love with it.

Myron Bretholtz gave me my first bodhran, and one drum lesson.  Myron is a wonderful bodhran player, and told me that he would just give me one lesson, because everyone develops their own style.  So really, there is no right or wrong way to play the bodhran!  Just a fair amount of woodshedding required to get really good at it.  Get yourself some great Irish music and play along and before long you will be playing bodhran with the best of them!

Myron told me at that time you can use a thimbleful of Stout on the skin of the drum if it gets dry.  But water works just as well, if not better, if you don't want the Stout on your drum.  There are differing opinions on this I am sure, as well as HOW you pronounce the word "bodhran."  In fact, that is a point of great debate!

I bought my drum at The House of Music Traditions (HMT) in Rockville.  It is a Cooperman drum, but they no longer make the model I use.  My drum looks like THIS (click). There are a zillion different bodhrans out there - I prefer the ones with crossbars on the back, but not everyone does.  Find the one that is right for you -- Elderly Instruments, Reverb, they are even available on!  I used my Cooperman Drum AND my Remo drum on The Bodhran Lesson Song, which I bought at HMT.  The Remo drum has a synthetic head, but is a great little drum!  (If you make bodhans and want me to try out your drum, I'd be glad to btw!  I'm looking for a new one since they no longer make my Coopermans.)

My tipper (drum stick) was hand made and I bought it at The Edmonton Folk Festival many years back.  I wish I could find the maker of it -- it's just wonderful!  Find the one that feels right for you.  I don't like mine to be too heavy or too light, and I do like it to have a sort of ball on both ends.  Having said that, my first tipper was really just a thick dowel that had been rounded on both ends.  That worked fine as well!

Here is a little Hag trivia in closing:  The Hags got their name when they began sitting in with another local group at that time, "Haggis," so they became "The Hags of Haggis."  A favorite Hag story:  Their name was mis-printed in The Washington Post for one performance as "The Hogs."  They recorded one 45, containing the songs, "Pizza Patrick" and "The Traveler."  They were hoping for a hit not unlike the Irish Rovers whose song "The Unicorn" catapulted them to fame and fortune.   That didn't work out, and the band is no longer around, but it had a good run!  And their regular gig was at a place called "Delaney's Irish Pizza Pub."  Best Irish pizza I ever tasted.

Happy drumming!






Click on CD for ordering info

"Hits & Holidays"

Debi's greatest hits featuring Doc Watson, Tom Paxton, The Smith Sisters, Mark O'Connor, Al Petteway, Marcy Marxer and more! Available on & ITunes

"Blue Mockingbird" by The Smith Sisters

Vintage Smith Sisters recordings!  Available for download on CDBaby.

Look Up at The Hawks

Look Up at the Hawks, Debi's book featured on PBS television and NPR's "All Things Considered," is a collaboration of three generations -- her grandmother Ruth Morgan Smith (1894-1978), mother Vivian Douglas Smith, and Debi. Book:  $11.99

Look Up at the Hawks - Book

"Look Up at the Hawks" accompanying CD of songs inspired by Ruth Morgan Smith's life and writings. $9.99

Look Up at the Hawks - CD

Debi's son Lee and his art: ARTISM

Debi's son Lee Jaworek is a talented young man with autism, who calls his art, "Artism."  To learn about Lee and his art, visit

Sign up to be on Debi's email list:

Debi on Facebook, YouTube & Twitter


Bookings Contact:

Everyman Productions

Michael Jaworek