About me


Ciara Thompson, from Cheyenne, Wyoming, is passionate about vocal music. She presents herself as Vocal Performer, Teacher, and Researcher.

Ciara graduated from the University of Iowa in 2015, with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, and K-12 Music Education Certification. Her student teaching experiences through Van Allen Elementary School (North Liberty, Iowa) and Ringwood Secondary College (Melbourne Australia) were incredibly informative, inspirational and fun.

During her undergraduate degree, she studied abroad in Ireland on two occasions, and immediately became hooked. She returned to undertake a Masters degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, graduating in 2017. She has most recently passed her viva voce examination for a Ph.D. at the Irish World Academy, exploring the stories and relationships of Irish traditional lullabies and their practice.

She has always been captivated with singing, learning and travel, and has had many wonderful opportunities to pursue these facets of interest, thanks to her experiences in Wyoming, Iowa, Australia and Ireland. Please visit Ciara’s resume page for a more detailed account of her academic and professional development. Otherwise, continue scrolling to learn more about Ciara as a vocalist, educator and researcher.


Single dop of honey

Through her experiences as a performer, Ciara has explored many areas of song.

Ciara began her vocal studies in 2004, with foundational vocal technique through private lessons, musical theatre and school choirs. The aesthetics of these outlets ranged from Classical, secular and early music to CCM, folk, jazz, a cappella, and show choirs. Honour-level choirs that she has sung with include Wyoming All-State, and All-Northwest. She has sung in several University of Iowa choirs, through which she participated in five Masterworks Projects under the direction of Timothy Stalter and David Puderbaugh.

In 2009, she had the opportunity to participate in the choirs of the Wyoming Ambassadors of Music, touring seven European countries two weeks. In 2013 she attended Blas - an International Summer School of Irish Traditional Music, Song and Dance- through the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. These accumulated experiences have amounted to Ciara’s performance in over 15 different languages and 10 different countries. She has been lucky enough to sing solos in almost all of these choirs and schools, as well as filling the title role of Cinderella, in Cheyenne Central High School’s 2010 spring theatrical season.

Moving from Wyoming to Iowa for her undergraduate studies, Ciara focused her technique in on Classical and Western Art Song. She has always had a love for Irish music, and so her interest in traditional singing grew as she began to consider studying in Ireland. In fact, this has been a rooted interest from the start of her vocal journey, and one that she cultivated toward the end of her time in Iowa.

From Iowa to Ireland, Ciara explored more contemporary, and Irish traditional singing techniques. Additionally, through teaching, and working with what her students want to cultivate in their voices Ciara has had opportunities to further engage with jazz, blues, folk, pop, indie and CCM singing styles. She sings regularly through outlets in Limerick City, and in 2018, Ciara had the privilege to take part in performance artist, Ceara Conway’s project, Dóchas:Hope. This was a 20-minute video performance that was commissioned as part of “Ó Chill Chaoil go Carna” with Oireachtas na Gaeilge, and support from The Arts Council, Waterways Ireland and FLAG West.

Her teachers along the way have included Wm. Lynn Dixon, Susan Jones, Katherine Eberle, Muireann Nic Amhlaiobh, Nóirín Ní Riain, Róisín Ní Ghallóglaigh, Sandra Joyce and Heidi Krenn. Additionally, Ciara has previous experience in piano, violin, flute, mandolin, ballet, and theatre.

Ciara is very happy to put her skills to practice, from collaboration in recordings, performances and projects, to singing for social occasions. If you are interested in utilising Ciara’s services for an event or project, please feel free to get in touch.


Ciara’s first teaching experience began through the Summer Education Experience for Kids (SEEK) programme, in Wyoming - a week-long summer-school geared toward 7-12-year-olds. In this programme, she curated and taught a course on Irish Music and Culture, called “Erin Go Bragh!” In this programme, students were able to ‘travel’ to all 32 counties, take field notes about things of interest in their “Erin go Bragh” passports, learn songs and dances, make craft bodhráns and leprechauns, learn about Irish music, language and sport, and at the end of the week, they had the opportunity to video chat with a Dublin-based colleague, and to give a performance of their songs and dances for their parents.

Through University of Iowa’s College of Education, Ciara apprenticed at Van Allan Elementary School and Ringwood Secondary College. These placements were instrumental in developing her identity as a teacher. Ciara worked with a wide range of ages, abilities, and personalities, strengthening not only skills in curricular structure and planning but also flexibility and quick thinking! As a student-teacher, Ciara was expected not only to learn but also to be a source of leadership, support, guidance and authority. In Van Allan, she worked in the general music classroom, where grades Kindergarten - 6th (ages 4 - 11) were exposed to two 45-minute classes throughout the week. These classes had almost no turn around time, making it necessary to plan ahead and be quick-thinking. Ciara feels privileged to have work with each grade on different musical skills and activities.

Student-teaching in Australia taught Ciara the value of leaping without looking! While the University of Iowa had prepared her to teach vocal technique and to direct a choral programme, at Ringwood, she was challenged not only to practice these points but also to jump in with teaching and observation in band conducting and techniques, teaching musical styles, theory and history - specifically Jazz - and aiding in classes across other curricular subjects; from maths to woodworking and physical education. Additionally, Ciara assisted with the students' vocal techniques for their winter musical, ‘Oliver!’, conducted the junior band at their winter concert, and chaperoned students for the ‘Generations in Jazz’ festival and competition in Mt. Gambier. Through and through, a life-changing experience!

At the University of Limerick, the Aussi, ‘can-do’ influence has been invaluable for Ciara in pursuing teaching opportunities. Ciara has coordinated and taught modules including Irish Traveller Music Studies, sight-singing and conducting, French diction for singers, academic writing within the Arts, as well as lecturing to Master’s students about her research focus - Irish Traditional lullabies. Most prominently, Ciara has taught one-on-one voice lessons. These lessons focus on establishing and improving students' foundational singing techniques, which are then applied to their repertoire. While song choice is ultimately up to the students, Ciara brings suggestions that suit the student’s voice and tastes as well as stretch their comfort zones in the process.

Ciara has most recently extended voice lessons into the private context. These lessons have the same goals and framework as those that she has had the privilege to teach at university, with the upside of tailoring curriculums to fit individual students' schedules, goals and commitment. Teaching both privately and through university has been such a privilege for Ciara, and through the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen extensions into online teaching platforms. Ciara loves teaching in both a lecture and workshop setting and considers herself as one of many in the room, rather than a higher-up who teaches down on her pupils. Ciara’s aim as the teacher is to make learning fun and engaging for everyone.

If you are interested in utilising Ciara’s services as a teacher and vocal tutor, please feel free to get in touch with her.


Ciara has always had a passion and intrigue not only for singing but for travel, academia, and musical cultures across the globe, and ethnomusicology as a path for graduate work was the obvious choice for her. With connections and interests in Ireland, Ciara pursued the Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology at University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. This was instrumental in developing her skills in scholarly inquiry and large academic writing, and foundational in building her knowledge base of the theory and methodology prominent within the fields of ethnomusicology and traditional song studies. This course also helped build skill sets in fieldwork, interview, and archival research and analysis techniques. Her final thesis for this programme was an examination of the resonance in function and affective potential between Irish traditional lullabies and laments, which culminated in a 20,000-word dissertation, entitled Pathos and Potency within Irish Lullabies and Laments, and a 30-minute performance.

Continuing from her work in the Master’s programme, Ciara was interested in diving in further, and in 2016 applied for a position as a PhD researcher at the Irish World Academy. Her current research looks into a specific facet from her Master’s thesis - the continued importance of Irish traditional lullabies through the examination of their stories and relationships. This research investigates the many ways in which lullabies benefit not only the child but also adult participants through the multi-layered meanings presented through their stories and the relationships that emerge through their practice. This resulted in a 160,000-word dissertation, orally defended, with a graduation of August, 2021.

Through her Master’s and her PhD studies, Ciara has had the opportunity to present at the following events:


The 46th Kommission für Volksdichtung/International Ballad Commission Conference, Limerick, IE. "Speculations on the Semiotics of Irish Laments and Lullabies".


The 47th Kommission für Volksdichtung/International Ballad Commission Conference, Palermo, Sicily. "The Mason's Word: Balladry Within Lullabies".


The 13th Annual ICTM-IE Conference, Limerick, IE. "Memories of a Voiceless Narrative: Evidence of the Caregiver’s Voice within Irish Traditional Lullabies".

My Thesis in Three Minutes, in French! Hosted by Francophonie Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin, IE. "Mo Stóré Mo Leanbh: L'importance des berceuses traditionnelles irlandaises dans l'Irlande contemporaine".

The Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland 'Happiness in Nineteenth-Century Ireland', Dublin, IE. "Mo sheod gan chealg is mo chuid den tsaol mhór: The colourful riot of emotion in lullabies".

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance 'Tower' seminar series, Limerick, IE. "The Role of Singing in Health and Well-being: Lullabies and Tradition".


The Women and Traditional/Folk Music Research Symposium, Galway, IE. "Lullabies as a (non)Gendered Practice, and a Consideration for the Gendered Caregiver".

The 45th ICTM World Conference, Bangkok, Thailand. "Observing the Lullaby within Irish Tradition(al Music)".

THE TOWER SEMINAR SERIES – Music Therapy for Adolescents in Mental Healthcare: Reflecting on Roles, Responsibilities and Rap. "Lullabies: Tradition, Performance and Wellbeing".

Out of and aside from these conferences, Ciara has produced the following publications:

Thompson, C. (2019) "The Mason’s Word-Balladry Within Lullabies", Street Music and Narrative Traditions. Edited by Sergio Bonanzinga, Luiza Del Giudice and Tom McKean. Palermo: Associazione per la conservazione delle tradizioni popolari.

Thompson, C. (2021) "Finding Happiness in Irish Lullabies, 1860-1910", Happiness in Nineteenth-Century Ireland. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Thompson, C. (2021) "Lullabies as a (non-)Gendered Practice, and a Consideration for the Gendered Caregiver". Ethnomusicology Ireland. Conference Proceedings from The Women and Traditional/Folk Music Research Symposium, Galway.

Thompson, C. (Forthcoming) "Heaney and Ní Ghuairim: Influences of Tradition Bearers on Irish Traditional Lullaby Repertoire" in Traditional Song as Cultural Heritage (Book name to be determined). Dublin: Four Courts Press.

In addition to these outputs, Ciara is a founding member of the Taighde Dámh Chruinne Éireann postgraduate research forum and served as its Public Relations Officer from 2018 to 2020. She is also a core member of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance's Traditional Song as Cultural Heritage Research Cluster.

Ciara would be very happy to engage with song practice and research with you on an academic level. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss Ciara's academic endeavours further.

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