German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Hello, I’m a teacher of English from Buxtehude, northern Germany interested in ITM. I’ve just introduced my class to Irish traditional music and they’ve learned what a session is. They’ve developed a little survey on sessions in general and would like to learn from some real session-goers like you what a session is like. These are their questions:

Where do you come from?

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?

What kind of mood is there in such a session?

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?

How many musicians are in a session?

Can anybody play in such a session?

Are there things like “session competitions”?


Thank you for your contributions… musical greetings… jensis

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from? County Tipperary in the southern part of Ireland.

What kind of instrument do you play in your session? Guitar, Fiddle, Mandolin

What kind of mood is there in such a session? The main session I go to is a group of friends who meet to play music and have ‘the craic’. It’s a session where beginners are encouraged and experienced players are respected. Music is played, songs are sung and plenty of jokes and ‘slagging’ too.

Do musicians have regular days to do their session? Usually a session is organised for one certain day a week, our session however is more relaxed and spontaneous. We will get on the phone to each other and see how many of us are available, usually every Friday.

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session? Tough question for me to answer because I’m only playing the fiddle for 6-7 months. Although I’ve been playing the guitar for years.
In my session I am encouraged to play every tune I know and my fellow musicians will even direct sets towards my repetoir so I can get as much experience as I can on the fiddle. They are a fantastic buch to play with.

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)? Every so often one couple of musicians at our session bring their two kids who play fantastically. I wouldn’t mind children being there at all providing they were quiet and behaved. (last thing you would want is a 6 year old running off through a crowded pup with your €1200 fiddle.)

How many musicians are in a session? Usually six in our session. And a few singers thrown in for good measure.

Can anybody play in such a session? If you can play or are learning then anyone is welcome in our session.

Are there things like “session competitions”? There aren’t any competitions for sessions, there are however competitions for musicians, called fleadh’s. these begin as regional qualifying fleadh’s and progress onto a national fleadh. Musicians play solo or in groups called ceili bands. But you cant judge a session, its stops being a session as soon as it becomes competitive.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

The passion is appreciated, but maybe you would do better to ask one question at a time. However, most of these questions have already been subjects of discussion here on site. If you do a ‘search’ you’d find most of your questions answered, one-at-a-time… But, that you have children in Germany considering this, that’s great, but, please, break it down. You’re asking a lot, with a few being too open ended, like potentially essay churning, or worse… 😉

This is why yes/no, true/false, and scale questionaires are so prevalent. A scale being something like 1 to 5, like / dislike…

Hopefully some folks will give your questions a quick once over. Considering everything, I’ll make a note and if time allows will return to that task, as personal and daunting as it is with 9 questions, but we’ve had worse. We had one person presenting themselves as an ‘ethnomusicologists’ who asked over 20 essay type questions as the start of a ‘discussion’… 😏 Yours is not so bad…

Good luck…

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Excellent, and a good start and contribution session savage!

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

"they’ve learned what a session is"

Well, at least, that’s a lot more than we’ve done so far. 🙂

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?
Manchester, England

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
Violin and viola

What kind of mood is there in such a session?
Everything from elation to grumpiness

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?
Usually

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?
Depends on the session and how quick a learner you are. The basic rule though is to recognise whether you are up to the general standard and if you are not, try not to spoil it for the others. (That goes the other way also, if you find you are loads better than the general standard, don’t spoil it for the others by playing tunes that are too hard or too fast for them).

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?
I often take my three year old to a Saturday or Sunday afternoon session. But I think the evening just wouldn’t be suitable. It’s a pub, with drunk people who swear a lot.

How many musicians are in a session?
Usually, too bloody many

Can anybody play in such a session?
I refer to the question about being good enough above. Also, It’s not just about being good enough to play, it’s about having the repertoire. It’s about knowing the music, which is a very different thing.

Are there things like “session competitions”?
Unfortunately, sessions often turn into competitions, especially with younger players. But rivalry really should be the antithesis of a session. It should be strictly ensemble, by its very nature. If you get off on competition, then go and do sport instead.

Posted .

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Good one Johnny! jensis, do a search on that, what a session is, and on ettiquette, that is probably the largest body of discussion here, in all sorts of forms, and much not what you’d want to present to your class, though they’d get a laugh out of it.

Here’s a quick once over of your questions ~

1.) Where do you come from?

* All over God’s creation (and that applies personally…)
For ‘countries’ where you’ll find sessions, and not all are here yet, check this link ~
https://thesession.org/sessions/

2.) What kind of instrument do you play in ‘your’ (whose is a separate issue) session?

* Acoustic is the preferred, but there have been electrics involved at time, and even modern orchestra instruments like the clarinet and silver flute, viola, cello, bass, and even brass ~ except, on the whole these instruments tend to be too loud and dominating for your average session… The most common winds are whistle and flute, and reeded are the bagpipes, Irish uilleann/union pipes, and for bowed strings the fiddle, other strings ~ mandolin and guitar and other relatives of the lute family, like the bouzouki, and not forgetting the banjo, more usually the 4-string tenor, but you’ll also find the occassional 5-string. For percussion the most common is the Irish frame drum or bodhran, and more rarely the bones and spoons, but it sadly doesn’t end there… Other reeded squeezes are the accordion family, from piano to melodeon, and the concertina family too, with the more common one for Irish being the anglo, and the occassional ‘English system’, but there are a rare few other systems too. We musn’t forget that other pocket instrument, reeds still, ‘free reed’, the harmonica. If I forgot anything someone is bound to make a point of directing me to the oversight… 😉

Discussion: Who’s who and who plays what?
# Posted on August 28th 2001 by Jeremy (our Webmaster!!!)
https://thesession.org/discussions/71
That is just one discussion on this subject, but one of the earliest, #71…

3.) What kind of mood is there in such a session?

* Everything humanly possible, good and bad…

4.) Do musicians have regular days to do their session?

* Yes, usually weekly, like every Friday night, Sunday afternoon, etc., and some are monthly, others are ‘occassions’, even annual gatherings, and even campouts…
https://thesession.org/sessions/

5.) How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?

* That depends ~ yes, up in the air of multiple possibilities. Some folks grab a rattle or a drum and immediately take it on themselves to contribute, welcome or not. Others are born to it, others dedicate time and effort, others do little ~ all sorts find their way to the craic. Some add to it, some take away from it, and a few even spoil everybody else’s fun. Sometimes it results in less than diplomatic responses along the lines of "please leave!" Some sessions are specifically designed for beginners, and there are even ‘slow sessions’, not to everyone’s liking, but considered welcomed by others. There is some kind of session in the world to meet just about any need, including the occassional song and/or recitation. There are also ‘family’ sessions and ‘youth sessions’. There are even sessions in schools and village and community halls, where alcohol isn’t an issue, something for just about everyone…

6.) Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?

* Yes, depending on the venue and law, and it is not unusual for young ones to have the talent to join in… Some sessions make a concession and will even work to include sets with that welcome in mind… Also see question #5 above…

7.) How many musicians are in a session?

* more than one… I’ve been in sessions that were huge, and badly managed they can be hell, we’re talking 20, 30, and higher… If I were to offer an ‘ideal’, I’d say between 2 and 16…

8.) Can anybody play in such a session?

* There are different species, some are open, some are closed, some are by invitation only, others are really performances though can be advertised as a ‘session’…

9.) Are there things like “session competitions”?

* Ditto what session savage had to offer… See here:
http://comhaltas.ie/
http://comhaltas.ie/events/
http://comhaltas.ie/events/competitions/

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Nice one Llig…

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Ah ceol… just what we’d expect — thorough but elusive.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?
From "county" Rhineland-Palatinate Germany, but my session is in Frankfurt.

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
The fiddle.

What kind of mood is there in such a session?
That depends. Normally a good one. After all, playing Irish music is about fun and it is my favorite thing to do 🙂.

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?
Normally, we meet monthly, every first and third Wednesday. There are some unscheduled sessions, e.g. at Christmas time.

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?
This can’t be answered generally. I went to my first session after a year, but it was a little bit frustrating, because I couldn’t play the reels, They were too fast for me. I also have to add that I played the guitar before playing the fiddle, so it was easier for me. I think most people go to their first session after three to six years of practice.

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?
Of course! The earlier they get the taste for the music, the better. We have one fiddle player who sometimes comes with his son, who is ten years old. He started at an very early age and he is quite good!

How many musicians are in a session?
Normally about 10. Sometimes up to 20, which is too much.

Can anybody play in such a session?
Anybody who knows the tunes and can play them in considerable speed. In some places there are slow sessions for beginners, which is a very good thing.

Are there things like “session competitions”?
I know of one in Ireland, because my friends in Dublin used to join it. However, I forgot the name.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?
Glasgow, Scotland but live in London England

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
Mostly wooden Boehm-system flute, but also D/G melodeon and tin whistle. Very occasionally bodhran.

What kind of mood is there in such a session?
The mood of a group of friends who meet weekly. The mood is generally upbeat, beginning expectantly, proceeding with new tunes, old favourites, anecdotes, jokes, etc. Then finishing as a job well done. Occasionally the mood can reach manic fever pitch when the tunes are really buzzing and there’s a good crowd in, squealing and yelping away, or it can plumb the depths of despair if some persona non gratis turns up and breaks the spell by playing too loud, too slow, too fast or just crap.

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?
Thursday by definition, but occasionally other things turn up to which we send our envoys.

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?
Varies. Depends on the instrument and the person. Ata rough guess, maybe 2-3 years for a whistle, 3-5 years for a flute, 5-10 years for an accordion, 35-65 years for a fiddle.

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?
It has been known, but unfortunately our session starts at 9.00pm and young children are not allowed into pubs after 9.00pm… I think. But the governor of our pub does not really enforce this pointless rule. But the reality is small children should be in bed by then anyway. It’s a real shame, as they’re missing out on a bit of real live local culture, but there you go.
How many musicians are in a session?

Can anybody play in such a session?
Not really. You have to have a certain level of expertise on your instrument, know the tunes, and be able to play them quite fast. However, if someone has a few tunes they can play as a "party piece" they would be by all means encouraged to do so.

Are there things like “session competitions”?
Not that I know of around SE London. Some people try and treat the playing of tunes at sessions as some kind of competition, but they are obviously missing the whole pointand they are the ones who break the spell, and ruin everything. Fortunately these individuals are not frequent visitors, and becoming less so (touch wood!)

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

(Missed one🙂

How many musicians are in a session?

Varies. Can be as few as 2. Less than that it can’t be called a "session" but a solo PERFORMANCE 🙂. But really, we have been as few as 3 but have had as many as 20-something or plenty-something, and that’s in a small back bar. There are usually something like 6-10 in our session.
For 20+ …That’s too many in my view. I personally prefer just 3-6 players who know their stuff.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Nice to see you phantom button, but who’s the real phantom, eh? However, you forgot to add your piece, so here’s a start, and I wouldn’t dare venture further ~ 😎

1.) Where do you come from?

San Francisco, California, U.S.A. ~ http://www.tipsyhouse.com/

2.) What kind of instrument do you play in ‘yours’ (and others) session(s)?

anglo concertina:
Eel In The Sink / Limerick Lasses
http://www.tipsyhouse.com/Eels.mp3
fiddle: Dale Russ & guitar: Junji Shirota ~ recorded in 1998

& flute:
The Road to Garrison / John Kelly’s / John Brady’s http://www.tipsyhouse.com/tunes/godfather.mp3
fiddle: Kevin Bernhagen & guitar: Richard Mandel ~ recorded in 2004

3.) What kind of mood is there in such a session?

4.) Do musicians have regular days to do their session?

5.) How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it

6.) Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?

7.) How many musicians are in a session?

8.) Can anybody play in such a session?

9.) Are there things like “session competitions”?

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

"However, if someone has a few tunes they can play as a "party piece" they would be by all means encouraged to do so."

Hmmmm

define "party piece"

If you just mean asking someone to start off a set or play a few tunes from their own repertoire, fair enough. However, a "party piece" can sometimes be construed as a "show off".

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

That’s why I put it in parentheses. Party piece here means a tune or a set which a non-regular player, maybe a beginner, can play. Someone who doesn’t really play along all the tunes in the session, but has practiced one or two things they can bring out and be encouraged to play. Nothing wrong with that.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

That’s ok, of course. It’s nice when you visit a different session to be asked when you don’t knw as many of the tunes as you’d like.

Likewise, it’s a good way of welcoming people when they visit your session.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Jeremy, I just got blown off this discussion - I completed a long answer, then when I posted it it’s not there, and I was no longer logged in !

Wazzup ?

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?
Switzerland
What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
Flute Uillean pipes
What kind of mood is there in such a session?
craic - that’s basic vocabulary 😉
Do musicians have regular days to do their session?
once a month
How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?
Pipes: 14years
Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?
Sessions start here late, maybe 9pm, so the kids should be in bed already
How many musicians are in a session?
10-25
Can anybody play in such a session?
yes, with the exception of people with bongos, shakey eggs and the like
Are there things like “session competitions”?
In certian places they compete on playing reels faster than everybody else, but that’s another kind of hobby

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Pete - obviously i don’t know your connection details etc but this has happened to me occasionally.

in my case it happens when there’s a brief disconnection from the net.

i have firefox and noScript installed which i think is also responsible for logging me off.


Jensis,i’ll attempt a reply…

Where do you come from?

the west riding of yorkshire(the nearest town would be rotherham)

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?

fiddle


What kind of mood is there in such a session?

the session i’ve been to most recently has a convivial atmosphere and is quite laid back.

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?

this session is on a regular day

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?

as you can probably guess this depends on the person-i’ve known people been up to the mark after a very short space of time.


Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?

this pub is n’t really for children,imo and it is an evening session so i would say no.


How many musicians are in a session?

in my experience between 4-7.



Can anybody play in such a session?

anybody who has a reasonable grasp of the tunes and not too small a repertoire-the tunes are mainly irish but other tunes are ok(in moderation!)




Are there things like “session competitions”?

i have never met this in the sense you mean.

in the sense this has been taken up-competition within the group of players-this is n’t a feature-somebody may have a bit of fun with a new tune etc but that’s about it.

hope this helps!

best wishes,dave

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Pete, If you take a while writing a post and someone comes in and posts on a thread before you, you get logged out and your post is lost. I always simply select all and copy before hitting enter. That way, if you do get logged out, just log back in and paste your post from the clipboard.

Posted .

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from? - Scotland - Glasgow but Dundee just now.

What kind of instrument do you play in your session? - Guitar (and occasionally whistle)

What kind of mood is there in such a session? - What? They are generally happy occasions. Occasionally some plonker can increase stress levels but if sessions were not fun then none of us would go there.

Do musicians have regular days to do their session? - Yes. Normally the days that have a Y in their name! Seriously though there are regular sessions in Dundee and Glasgow. Often they are in the quiet time e.g. Mon-Thurs. Fri and Sat tend to be rarer for sessions because people go out and get blootered anyway so why fill the pub up with musicians? Sundays are great in Glasgow.

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session? - Depends on the instrument and how dedicated/talented you are and also the level of quality/crapness from the other session-goers. I have been playing guitar since I was about 10 but only got into traditional music accompaniment about 5/6 years ago. My playing has improved a lot over the past 5 years but there is still always lots to learn. I have been learning the whistle for the past 3? years (having learnt classical flute as a child) but am reluctant to get it out in most sessions. I jost don’t practice enough - the guitar dominates my time too much.

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)? - Depends on the session and the licencing laws in the venue. I was at an album launch yesterday at a bar in Glasgow and there was a young baby there (who seemed to be having a ball!). Most pub sessions are over 18s only but it depends whether it is in the public bar or not.

How many musicians are in a session? - How long is a piece of string. I have seen it range from 2 to 22.

Can anybody play in such a session? - No, girls are not allowed 😉

Are there things like “session competitions”? - There are some folk who want to show off that they can play at a gazillion miles an hour or occasionally manage to dominate a session but I am yet to see a ‘play off’ in a session - might be fun though.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from? Boston, Mass, and grew up in New York.

What kind of instrument do you play in your session? I play a D flute I made out of PVC tubing.

What kind of mood is there in such a session? Friendly, happy, supportive.

Do musicians have regular days to do their session? Our session is once a week on Mondays.

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session? Most have been playing for several years, although beginners are welcome.

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)? Yes, and many are students at the Irish Music school and join in.

How many musicians are in a session? A lot-it’s a learning session, so we usually have over 20. Once we had 60, but that is highly unusual, and does not make for a good experience.

Can anybody play in such a session? Yes. But we only play when we know the tune; otherwise we just listen.

Are there things like “session competitions”? No.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from? Virginia USA, now in Florida USA

What kind of instrument do you play in your session? Uilleann pipes, flute, whistle, box, bodhran, one day the harp sitting over there by the fireplace

What kind of mood is there in such a session? Convivial, friendly, like old friends catching up and having fun

Do musicians have regular days to do their session? yes - semi-weekly on Sundays here in Gainesville, semi-weekly on Wednesdays in Orlando, monthly down in Eustis, monthly down in Tampa, monthly up in Tallahassee

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session? It depends on the instrument and the musician’s drive to learn it. Our sessions tend to be advanced so everyone has played for 10 years or more.

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)? Absolutely - wish more would.

How many musicians are in a session?4-10. any more than that and you can have a mess - doppler shifts in tempo, etc..

Can anybody play in such a session? If they know their instrument and know the tunes and tradition, absolutely.

Are there things like “session competitions”? oh dear, I hope not.

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Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

From: originally West Virginia but living in Southern California for decades
Instruments: Irish flute, uilleann pipes, whistles
Mood: Friendly, laid-back, no big egos
Regular days: around here they are usually on Sunday afternoons
Years/experience/ability: some people attend who can only play a few of the tunes. They are not denigrated. However in the past I’ve been at snobbish sessions where only the people in the "in crowd" are supposed to play (unwritten rule) and if anyone else trys to play the "in" people get up and leave.
Children: the sessions around here are held in pubs which serve food so children are sometimes present.
Number of musicians: might be only 3 or 4 or as many as 10 or so. I haven’t experienced huge sessions around here.
Session competition: I don’t know what that is referrring to. The atmosphere of the session is diametrically opposed to the atmosphere of a staged competition.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?——-Dublin, Ireland

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?———Fiddle

What kind of mood is there in such a session?———- Depends on how good it is. Most of the time it’s great, just good fun lots of people shoutin stuff like "Hup ya boya" or "Yyyyeeeeooowwww!!!!!" or "Go on ye hoo-er (whore) ye"

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?——— Yeah, most do. It’s usually a group of friends who ring each other and organize a certain time on a certain day in a certain pub but if you look around there’s usually one on somewhere so any random musician can join in.


How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?——-Depends on how good you are but you need a basic grasp of the instrument and know a good few tunes. In sessions a lot of the same tunes come up over and over again so you’re safe if you learn a few of those. A couple of years maybe.


Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?——-I suppose they could but the best ones happen at night, round 10 o clock until the pub closes (by law around 1 but sometimes they keep it open for longer). And because of the law sayin that kids can’t be in a pub after 9 o clock at night (Goddamn police state) you rarely, if ever see kids at a session. If there’s one on durin the day you’d probably see em


How many musicians are in a session?————Anything from 2 to 20/30, depends


Can anybody play in such a session?——-Ah yeah, especially the ones with a loada people, people tend to make it "look" like they’re playin


Are there things like “session competitions”?———There’s the fleadh ceol na hÉireann, basically every area area in Ireland (and some places in America and Britain have a local comhaltas branch, sort of like a football club, cept they play Irish music instead of sport. The branches compete in a load of different music competitions every year, one being the "grúpa cheol" (music group) which is like a little band so it’s sort of like a session. The groups organize a set of tunes then play em at the fleadhs. First there’s the county fleadhs, then the provincials, then the all ireland which is great craic, session in every pub and a loada drink and stuff. But the grúpa’s a bit like a session.

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Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from? Syracuse, NY

What kind of instrument do you play in your session? I play penny whistle and bodhran.

What kind of mood is there in such a session? I think it depends on the session. In the one I regularly go to, the mood is generally relaxed, casual, and fun. The people I play with all know each other well and we have a great time sharing tunes and chatting between them. That being said, I’ve been to sessions that have been raucous and some that have been entirely awkward (usually at a festival where no one knows each other).

Do musicians have regular days to do their session? Where I live we do. A local pub offered to host us two days a month at a certain time, so we play at that time. We do, however, have the occasional impromptu house session.

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session? This really depends on the person. There are some people who have been playing an instrument for 15+ years but still aren’t very good at it (sometimes they come to session anyway!) and there are others who have been playing only a short time but seem to just "get it." When I first started playing at sessions, I’d only been playing whistle for a couple months, but I’d been playing clarinet for nearly 20 years at the time, so I was well-versed in music.

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)? Again, this depends on the session. At the one I go to, which is in a pub/restaurant, children are allowed to come and listen.

How many musicians are in a session? I find smaller groups better in general. The regular session I attend generally has 5 or 6 people at it and that seems perfect. The other one I used to go to had as many as 20 some days and there were just too many people. One side of the room couldn’t hear the other very well.

Can anybody play in such a session? They can if they play the music.

Are there things like “session competitions”? There are actually. I remember someone linking to this site some time ago: http://www.besttradsession.com/ Most sessions, however, are done just for the love of the music and craic.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

"Where do you come from?" Durham, North-East England.

"What kind of instrument do you play in your session?" Tin whistle and melodeon.

"What kind of mood is there in such a session?" Good unless someone (in or outside the session group) causes real offence, which is fortunately rare.

"Do musicians have regular days to do their session?" Yes. They find a pub or other venue and ask if they can have a regular session there; if they are given permission, they arrange with the landlord a day of the week that would suit him and them best; thereafter, they stick to that day unless there is pressing reason to change. (Most sessions are once a week; some meet less often - e.g. once a month.)

I can go to three a week in my town, on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday. Here, sessions have always been on weekdays. At weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights) the pubs we use would be more crowded and noisy; if we were in them then, it would be less convenient both for us and for the others, and indeed the landlords.

"How many years do you have to play an instrument to have it good enough to play in a session?" With whistle and melodeon, two years should do to play a fair amount of session material with reasonable competence and pleasure. But fiddle and Irish pipes are much more difficult. Flute - couldn’t say.

"Can children go to a session and watch it?" I’ve never thought about it.

"How many musicians are in a session?" Good question: often less than the number of players!

"Can anybody play in such a session?" A general unwritten rule is - Play what you can; don’t play what you can’t, or begin something you can’t finish (easier said than kept to!). And if you are a stranger to the session, it’s best to hear a bit of it and to ask a member if it’s OK to join in before you actually do so.

"Are there such things as session competitions?"The nearest thing I can think of are band or group competitions at fleadhs (Irish traditional music festivals in Ireland and elsewhere), and comparable festivals in Northumberland (NE England); I assume there are plenty in Scotland.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

No session competitions in Scotland.

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Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

and why would you assume that ? Not having a go - just genuinely puzzled.

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Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Of course, there are competitions for bands, individual musicians, songwriters and tunesmiths etc in Scotland. Was that not what Nicholas meant?

Obviously not for sessions.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

I assumed these competitions happened in Scotland because there are many folk festivals, traditional music festivals, gatherings of one sort or another which might be expected to host them. I couldn’t be bothered to look examples up because I took this for granted! (Maybe I should be more careful.) And as Johnny suggests, I was referring to band competitions as *the nearest thing I could think of* to session competitions, of events that is that happen on a regular basis. They might well provide a setting where a few people from one session might compete with a few people from another one!

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

i.e., I was not saying there were *session* competitions in Scotland!

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

I suppose I should finnish what ceol started about our sessions here in SF.

3.) What kind of mood is there in such a session?

~~~ Well… it’s friendly and not competitive. We have rotating hosts so no particular group or person is dominating it. A general feeling of camaraderie and fun rules the session.

4.) Do musicians have regular days to do their session?

~~~ Yes… Sundays and Tuesdays.

5.) How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it good enough to play in a session?

~~~ This varies and is determined by the musicians abilities and dedication to learning their instrument.

6.) Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?

~~~ Unfortunately, no — it’s held in a bar. 21 and over only.

7.) How many musicians are in a session?

~~~ Usually 4 to around 15

8.) Can anybody play in such a session?

~~~ Sure, provided they know Irish music and can play it well enough to hold a good rhythm and play in tune.

9.) Are there things like “session competitions”?

~~~ No

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Yes, it would be appreciated if you were more careful, thanks. That’s a couple of times I’ve seen you making wrong assumptions about Scotland. Anyway, moving on….I’m wondering what is the point in all this. Is it a language exercise or are the school kids genuinely interested in what a session is all about, or both? Many of the answers seem to be much the same, ie "What kind of mood is there in such a session?" …..mostly people say fun or happy or whatever. I don’t mean to sound cynical, so sorry if I do.
But I’m just wondering what sort of questions might elicit more varied and interesting responses…maybe…I don’t know, What is the clientele of your pub like or what is the theme of the interior decor or something - no they’re rubbish, maybe, but something to elicit more liguistic variety. Any thoughts?

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

erm… linguistic

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

I’m from California, USA
I play button accordion (B/C) and whistles
The mood in our sessions is everything from euphoric to tense.
Tuesday is our day
I started playing with a practice group after playing for a few months. Then we played sessions in a café about a year later. The reason I could get away with this is that there isn’t much experience here with ITM and I was the only accordion player around.
Children are welcome and encouraged at sessions. They provide welcome distraction from the serious grouches that sometimes show up.
There are between 10 and 19 musicians at our sessions.
We are a very inclusive group. If someone plays badly and we are mic-ed, the sound guy turns his microphone off.
There are no session competitions around here for lack of sessioneers.

Best of luck to all.
Tim Applebee

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

jensis is teaching English to 9th graders in Germany, and I think this is a great alternate topic of discussion. If I find myself back in that area of responsibility I might consider something similar, after taking them, if adults, out to a pub session somewhere, so they have something to chat about… I have always used music and dance in some aspect when teaching English to speakers of other languages, students which have so far either been Asian or Eastern European. The positive result has always been a lot of laughing. You want real fear, I’ve even taught them basic bodhran bashing and how to distinguish between duple and treble tune forms ~ jiggidy, jiggidy, jiggidy… Only trouble is, I can’t see them using that word in everyday chat can you, or ‘craic’. Now that really did cause some confusion. Hell, it causes confusion with English speakers… 😉

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Key ~ ‘etiquette’!?!

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Hey, even better, and I’ve actually done something like this ~ ‘scat’ or ‘lilting’ ~ ‘puss music’ ~ the ol’ diddly-aye-oh… 😉

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?
London, England. I now live in Wales.

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
Mandolin

What kind of mood is there in such a session?

That depends on the venue, the musicians, the other people present and many other factors. Ideally, a keen interest in and attention to the music (on the part of the musicians and the listeners) is balanced with a sense of fun and a relaxed atmosphere. Sometimes, the music ‘takes over’ and there seem to be no boundaries between the different musicians, or between the musicians and the listeners. For most players, I think, this only happens occasionally. But some players seem able to access this state at will and, when present at a session, are actually able to raise everyone to such a state. A house session can be quite different from a pub session, as there is usually a much smaller, and more attentive audience - or no audience at all. Also, in pub sessions, some of the musicians may receive payment, which can result in a certain amount of pressure on them to deliver - and a senseof hierarchy between the paid and unpaid musicians.

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?

Yes. Most sessions take place on a weekly basis - sometimes fortnightly or monthly. But they can also happen spontaneously, when the right musicians happen to be in the right place at the right time. At Irish music festivals, very often there are sessions happenning almost constantly (perhaps with a break from about 4am until lunchtime) for several days, with musicians coming and going thoughout the day.

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?

This depends entirely on the person. Some are faster learners than others. Some may already be accomplished players of their instrument but be completely new to Irish music. Some may have been listening to the music for decades, but be new to playing it. It also depends on the attitudes of the other players - some are happy to play with beginners, others only like to play with musicians of a certain standard.


Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?

This depends somewhat on the venue. Some pubs have a strict ‘no children’ policy. Some publicans will relax this rule specially when there is a session.


How many musicians are in a session?

Anything from 2 upwards. Sometimes sessions at festivals can have perhaps 40 players in them. At regular sessions, about 5 to 15 is normal. Personally, I prefer smaller sessions (up to 6, say), where all the musicians can hear one another clearly and ‘play off’ one another - like having a musical conversation.


Can anybody play in such a session?

Any musician who knows the style of music being played. Most importantly, if they are relatively new to Irish music, they must be willing to learn from the other musicians. If you don’t know the tune, *listen*, don’t play. Unfortunately, there is a misconception among some people that *anybody* can play in a session, without any prior knowledge of the music. This can be very off-putting to the other players and cause tensions which destroy the atmosphere of a session. For those interested in learning Irish music, it is generally considered polite to sit and listen on a few occasions, and learn some tunes at home, before attempting to join in with a session.

Are there things like “session competitions”?

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Sorry - missed one.

Are there things like “session competitions”?

There are such things as Irish Traditional Music competitions (Fleadhanna Cheoil), but these are separate from sessions. Sessions should not be competitive, but communicative. They are an opportunity for musicians to exchange tunes, to learn from one another and to relax in each other’s company - and an opportunity for non-musicians to hear musicians play in a relaxed environment, which is where we play at our best.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?
Raleigh, NC USA

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
fiddle (violin)

What kind of mood is there in such a session?
fun, jovial, with free drinks and friends

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?
yes, on Sunday

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?
not a matter of years, but proficiency to get around so you don’t become frustrated or bored…it’s not a "how to play your instrument" learning time together

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?
absolutely

How many musicians are in a session?
that depends, but usually about 6 to 12 people show up

Can anybody play in such a session?
anybody with a ‘traditional" instrument, and even a stray mandolin or guitar…saxophones are sorta frowned upon

Are there things like “session competitions”?
I hope not

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from? County Clare, Ireland
What kind of instrument do you play in your session? Bodhran, Voice
What kind of mood is there in such a session? usually relaxed, and fun
Do musicians have regular days to do their session? My only regular session is once a month, the last saturday of the month.
How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session? I learned to play bodhran at sessions! but it took about a year to play it well enough to let anybody else hear it.
Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)? In the winter, we have sessions for "intermediate" players, who range in age from eight years or so up to forty-something. Sometimes there are younger children there, watching and listening. These sessions are held in pubs at times when children are allowed.
How many musicians are in a session? Usually more than five, sometimes up to twelve. If it gets bigger, it sounds messy!
Can anybody play in such a session? Anybody with an instrument is welcome.
Are there things like “session competitions”? Yes, but they’re usually session groups filled out with professional musicians.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from?
My family are Scottish, but I have always lived in England

What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
flute

What kind of mood is there in such a session?
Depends who is there, how much has been drunk etc.
Generally good as most people know each other fairly well

Do musicians have regular days to do their session?
Yew, otherwise we wouldn’t know when to turn up!!!

How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?
Depends on the standard of the session. More important to aware of where your ability/standard is compared to the rest of the musicians and play/join in appropriately

Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?
Depends on the pub, but at lest no smoke in three days.

How many musicians are in a session?Three to about fifteen. Suppose ideal is about six….

Can anybody play in such a session?
Anybody can ‘play’. Whether they are contributing or not is another matter.

Are there things like “session competitions?
Dunno

9.) Are there things like “session competitions”?

Yes, if not medal winning. Where there is more than one session in a given geographic area, like ‘Dublin’, or ‘London’, or ‘Sydney’, there can be a kind of ‘competition’ that can happen, in at least attitude. They might be compared and judged like in a ‘competition’, and maybe even some musicians have a star system? They can compete for bodies at times, for talent, and can overlap and invade each other. Some might even send all the visiting bodhran bangers to ‘that’ session, their ‘competition’. It is likely to be an issue if there is more than one session on the same night. Other ‘conflicts’ can be content based, "Oh, you mean the ‘English’ session!" ~ or ~ "That one’s for singers and W*nkers!" So, in a sense, since there’s adjudication of sorts, there’s competition? 😎

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Hi jensin,
being from the Hamburg area myself I would suggest to visit one of the regular sessions in the region to experience what it is all about - even if you just visit and listen. You got some valid hints on session etiquette etc. already, probably you just need to experience the feeling. I think there are some good ones listed in the sessions section.
Best, Dagmar

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

forgot to fill in the form 🙂)
Where do you come from?
Hamburg, Germany
What kind of instrument do you play in your session?
Flute, Whistle
What kind of mood is there in such a session?
lots
Do musicians have regular days to do their session?
weekday evenings, sometimes Sunday afternoon, once a week, fortnight month, it depends
How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session?
Depends on your skills and on your former musical training
Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)?
Depends on the time and venue and country (most sessions in Ireland and GB take place late in the evening, would´nt take my kids there bur love to take them to any afternoon events)
How many musicians are in a session?
up from 2 to 20-30, 2 is often not enough, 20 too many
Can anybody play in such a session?
Depends on skills and session regulars, some of them are more open than others
Are there things like “session competitions”?
Not that I know of but I´m no way an expert
Best, Dagmar

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Where do you come from? Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
What kind of instrument do you play in your session? Hammered Dulcimer
What kind of mood is there in such a session? Fun, jovial, intense
Do musicians have regular days to do their session? Every Wednesday
How many years do you have to play an instrument to play it
good enough to play in a session? Depends on how much practice time you put in. Most come up to speed quickly if they read music.
Can children go to a session and watch it (children like 6 years old)? No problem
How many musicians are in a session? Anywhere from 15 up to 50
Can anybody play in such a session? No problem unless the person tries to take over or is obnoxious.
Are there things like “session competitions”? Not really although sometimes a few musicians go at it as an aside.

Re: German 9th grade students: Survey about sessions

Thank you very much for your contributions. My students were stunned that there are actually so many sessions all over the world. I think with your help I was able to interest some of them in that aspect of Irish culture. Who knows - some of them might even show up at our local session in Buxtehude on of these days. I will add it to the sessions section I guess, it’s still quite a new session and not "Irish only". Ok, cu…………..Jensis