Dean Robinson

Bristol, Rhode Island, USA

Retired Attorney

I became interested in Irish music and began playing the bodhran several years ago.  In 2018 I played the rhythm bones for the first time at a workshop at the Craiceann bodhran school. I decided to pursue my interest in the bones, and was fortunate enough to be able to work with Steve Brown and Kyle Forsthoff.


I have played the bones in performances as well as at numerous Irish music sessions in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and conducted a bones workshop at the Blackstone River Theater in Cumberland, Rhode Island. In May, 2021 I participated in the virtual All Ireland Bones Competition.

Dean’s Profile will appear in the next issue of the newsletter.  Until then here it is.


I am a retired attorney living in Bristol, Rhode Island. Since I was young I have enjoyed listening to all types of music. I attended numerous concerts, served as the editor of the music column in my high school newspaper and worked at the campus radio station during my freshman year of college.


Until seven years ago, however, I could not play a musical instrument. My wife Barbara gave me music lessons as a Christmas present that year which led me to learn how to play the guitar. I then became interested in Irish music and took up the bodhran. In 2018 I attended the Craiceann bodhran school on lnis Oirr. While there I sat in on a workshop presented by Cormac Byrne on how to play the spoons and rhythm bones. I remember being fascinated by the sound of rhythm bones and decided then to learn how to play them properly.


When I returned home I bought my first pair of rhythm bones from Steve Brown and began taking lessons from Kyle Forsthoff, a percussionist and rhythm bones player here in Rhode Island. Since I learned how to play in Ireland I typically play one handed, although I use the two handed style on occasion.

It was suggested that I join the Rhythm Bones Society which I soon did. In my time as a member I have made many friends who have provided me with assistance and information on bones playing. I’m looking forward to serving on the Board of Directors.


I also decided to participate in the All Ireland Bones Playing Competition in 2020. It was canceled that year due to the pandemic, but I participated in the virtual Competition in 2021 and in May of this year competed live in Abbeyfeale.


It was a wonderful experience and quite a thrill for me. I enjoyed the Competition itself meeting some of the great Irish rhythm bones players and sitting in at the nightly sessions in the pubs with the many talented musicians from the area. The people of Abbeyfeale were very welcoming and I hope to return there soon.


I am fortunate to live in an area with a flourishing Irish music scene. There are Irish music sessions held at various times and locations in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts, and I currently play in two sessions every week. I also conduct rhythm bones workshops at the Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland, Rhode Island on a regular basis.
In addition, I am a member of a band called Turas which features Irish music. Even though my primary instrument in the band is the bodhran, I make sure that I play rhythm bones at every show and concert. I have a collection of real and wooden rhythm bones made by Steve Brown that I use at the sessions and shows. Dean Robinson