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 Post subject: Re: "Are you playing?"
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:14 am 
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So, I've a big conundrum, well, to me anyway. I started playing ITM 25 years ago. Found a friend or two in college in USA with the same interest as we were starting out. I never have been very focused or disciplined in practicing. College ended and ive been around a bit and had very limited contact with sessions or other players. Was at the edge of 'type 3' sessions in Austin and Amsterdam, but nowhere near good enough to join in.

Dropped it altogether for 10-12 years and just now starting again.

Where does one start interacting with others in ITM? Theres a local ish session near me in mid ulster but not sure yet what it is.

I'd much prefer something in a more private, supportive and forgiving environment. I think I'm actually half decent with some encouragement and practice.

Any thoughts? My two actions I think are asking the people in local session about other get togethers, bribe with booze, or post something on the session website and hope for the best.


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 Post subject: Re: "Are you playing?"
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:46 am 
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Jeggy wrote:
So, I've a big conundrum, well, to me anyway. I started playing ITM 25 years ago. Found a friend or two in college in USA with the same interest as we were starting out. I never have been very focused or disciplined in practicing. College ended and ive been around a bit and had very limited contact with sessions or other players. Was at the edge of 'type 3' sessions in Austin and Amsterdam, but nowhere near good enough to join in.

Dropped it altogether for 10-12 years and just now starting again.

Where does one start interacting with others in ITM? Theres a local ish session near me in mid ulster but not sure yet what it is.

I'd much prefer something in a more private, supportive and forgiving environment. I think I'm actually half decent with some encouragement and practice.

Any thoughts? My two actions I think are asking the people in local session about other get togethers, bribe with booze, or post something on the session website and hope for the best.


This to me sums up the whole "problem" in a nutshell. I think session culture presumes community or is built around some imagined notion of community. There are no people playing ITM near me; there is no casual community i can learn tunes from. I could take lessons, but the lesson tunes might not be the session tunes, so where do you learn the tunes that are played in the session? In the session of imagination, you learned them from your neighbor farmer in ireland or in some city with a lot of irish immigrants. Now those immigrants are from Africa and Latin America and the irish people's great grandkids live in the suburbs and listen to classic rock or Post Malone.

My approach has been to go to session and either introduce myself and sit quietly on the outskirts like a weirdo with Tunepal on my phone grabbing the names of the tunes being played. Or sometimes NOT introduce myself an sit quietly like a weirdo with tunepal. Then I go home and learn some of those tunes and go back and when I have a tune more or less under my fingers I join in, still sitting outside the circle like a weirdo and trying not to play too loud. I've been to a few around here and they range from welcoming and fun to grim and off-putting. I was gradually becoming a familiar figure at some of them but life intervened and I haven't been in a while. I find it a trying experience that might reward gentle persistence, or might not.

Musicians are no better than other people at being gracious and finding ways to welcome newcomers, and very likely worse, it seems to me


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 Post subject: Re: "Are you playing?"
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:49 pm 
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Jeggy wrote:
Where does one start interacting with others in ITM?

There are a host of ways, but the necessary element is the willingness to communicate. In my case (pre-internet for me, and definitely pre-social media) it was a chance encounter at a small concert that directed me to a beginner's session. But it wouldn't have happened if I'd just kept to myself. At the time I didn't even know there was such a thing as sessions; I was just smitten with the music and had a crap flute, and was trying to learn on my own from recordings. In my enthusiasm I talked with anyone who seemed likely, even with a couple of the performers at the bar during breaks - nothing goal-oriented, just idle talk - and in the course of it all was a local fellow - a dancer, IIRC - who, upon learning that I was trying to learn this music myself, pointed the way to perdition.

Jeggy wrote:
Theres a local ish session near me in mid ulster but not sure yet what it is.

You won't know until you go and find out for yourself. If it's at a pub, you have the advantage of simply opting to sit out as a punter and observe until you get a sense of the thing.

Jeggy wrote:
I'd much prefer something in a more private, supportive and forgiving environment. I think I'm actually half decent with some encouragement and practice.

I'm a fan of private sessions myself. If you're on social media, that might be a good place to start. Or if you know any musicians, you could ask them if they know of any private sessions of the kind you have in mind; introductions would probably be in order first.

PB+J wrote:
I've been to a few around here and they range from welcoming and fun to grim and off-putting.

Or a mixture of both. Sometimes it's not so much climate as it is the random individuals involved. The best you can do is be polite and aware of your surroundings. The higher the overall standard of musicianship, the less surprising it should be that there will be someone to sniff at your presence until you've "proven" yourself. That said, the beginner's slow session I started out with was a somewhat daunting thing, because it soon became clear that they were in a rut, and they liked it that way. New tunes were met with disapproval, and they chased advancing players out of the nest; the only thing missing was the pitchforks and torches. It can sometimes be a bit of a job to find the right environment for your needs, but the main thing is that once you have contacts, it's a lot easier to learn what else is out there. Fortunately in the Twin Cities, public ITM sessions tend to be welcoming, but we've had our share of self-entitled stinkers sit in from time to time, so understandably there's always a bit of initial, low-key caution about the total stranger.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


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 Post subject: Re: "Are you playing?"
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:12 am 
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Thanks Nano and PB+J

There have been some developments since my post. I have a large group of friends through american football here in Ireland and reached out to them through social media for any leads on sessions or players I could get in touch with. Turns out one of the lads I've known for quite a while used to play a fair bit in local bands and sessions but fell out of the habit. He's keen to get started again so we will be practicing, playing and hitting sessions together for the foreseeable future. He knows a few others who we can play with, though many of his old pals are dispersed in England.

So, this is exactly what I needed, a route in and a reason to devote time to practicing.

A few of the others suggested pubs with Trad sessions in Northern Ireland and there's a lot more than what's listed in The Session, so that was revealing.

So, I'm really enjoying ITM again!


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