Kids at sessions

Kids at sessions

(Perhaps I’m outing myself here…this is about me and my family, of course.)

Let’s say your session is in a family-friendly venue and a couple of preteen kids liked to join in your session. They’re polite, quiet, well-behaved, listen attentively, observe the etiquette, make an effort to start a tune or two that they know decently well, play only on tunes they know, and generally fit in as well as the entry-level adult players (minus the beer and banter).

What about the occasional younger kid who shows up with a fiddle and a couple of tunes once in a blue moon?

They also have a parent who plays in the session regularly and who helps them get a clue if ever they need it (not often).

The session host is supportive of their participation. The local regulars either don’t mind or don’t comment, and all are friendly.

Would you, as a session participant (regular or visitor) take any issue with this? Is it pushing the limits of the tradition in some way to have kids in a session? I am curious to know how others might feel about it. Do kids learn at their da’s elbow in sessions in Ireland, or does it come about some other way?

I’m always wondering if people are too polite to say what they really think in person, and I wonder whether the majority would mind this sort of thing.

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Kids should always be welcome - they are the future.

We have a couple who sometimes come to our session, they are always well behaved, respectful, and generally less obtrusive than some adult learners. In return they get a couple of slots where we play ‘their tunes’ with them.

There is always enough time to give them a few minutes, and if you think they are dragging down the main session, then far better to gently guide them to the nearest slow session or schools group, than to just turn them away.

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We all were and most of us still are (kids that is). Of course they are welcome. I don’t think the concept of “age of consent” applies to music.

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Age has nothing to do with it.

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kids, like the rest of us, come in lots of different models. i’ve been in some situations where the child (and this is usually abetted by the parent) acts like a star and turns the whole scene into a high tension ‘performance’. but some grown-ups do that too. some of my favorite session pals have been no older than eight or ten -- funny, engaging, learning (and teaching!), and considerate. and when i think back, that’s the way their parents were, too! but it does seem important that kids have their parents along, in any case.

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Kids have sat in at our local session, but not often enough. I wish we’d see more of them.

In some cases, the kids are ready to play, having done their homework. In other cases, their parents bring them for a taste of how fun a session can be, to spark their interest. Even if they have only one tune to play, we’re happy to encourage them.

And we have youngsters dancing at our session on a regular basis.

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There’s a slight problem with the licensing laws in Ireland - underage (18, I think) youngsters aren’t allowed in pubs etc. after 9.30pm.
I was pretty disgusted to see a well known hotel outside Miltown refusing entry to our 17 yr old and his mates at the 2009 Willie Week on basis of age - it didn’t matter if I was with them, the bouncers weren’t having it and that was about 9-10pm. This on basis on age and the law etc. but I had a feeling the proprietors might have felt they’d make more money on adults who’d buy more drink.
That said, he’s come along at quieter times to other venues and not a problem.

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Re: Kids at sessions (Sessions, Yes! Pubs,probably not!

“Is it pushing the limits of the tradition in some way to have kids in a session?”

You bring up a very important point, and an important problem with the (relatively recent) fad of Irish traditional music being confined to the pub scene. The old tradition is music in people’s houses, the natural home of kids and music. In the Irish Gaeltacht it’s still very common to have musicians’ houses as the main forum for music rather than the pub, so there are loads of kids sitting about listening, dancing about, and when they’re old enough joining in. I remember my own childhood was filled with music in the house, especially in the summer evenings. My father and his brothers and some neighbours would play most evenings, and my cousins and I would sit on the stairs and listen to music late into the night. No beer! just tea and buns! I can’t help but feel that traditional music’s move from the house to the pub has not only made music (of necessity to cope with chatting crowds) louder and less subtle and frankly less good, but that the link between music and one’s own children is being eroded, and the tradition is thereby being threatened. Cape Breton still has a house music tradition, as do the Hebrides and the Donegal Gaeltacht (elsewhere in Ireland and Scotland I frankly have no experience to draw upon.) The pub music scene may have brought Irish music to the international folk revival but it may well be cutting what is the original native Irish tradition at the root!

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I hate reading this about pubs not being suitable for children. My grandfather owned a bar in Texas. Families were very welcome.* He had rooms above the bar & cottages behind. When I was a teenager a Tap Room opened in a new shopping center. Around that time places like my grandfather’s became a thing of the past.

* I was too young to know, but thinking back on it I don’t know, but doubt the evangelicals approved of A.B.’s occupation (my grandfather). From my perspective it was much better, for families, than what the drinking industry has become…

There I go ranting. So sorry. skreech, you’re spot on! Cheers.

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I have kids, I’m teaching tunes to my son who’s learning fiddle, and we have a few young teens who show up at sessions locally. In almost every case, they are far better behaved, and more eager to fit in and follow the invisible rules of etiquette than I. I love that our sessions here in this part of the world are multi-generational. It fully conforms to my romantic notions of what a session should be.

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When the session is in a pub that serves food, kids are allowed in, any time. Our pub is more of a restaurant, and serves only beer and wine (no hard liquor), so the atmosphere is very kid friendly.

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One of my sessions is in a restaurant, and half of the fun is seeing the looks on kids’ faces, as their parents bring them over to watch what we’re doing. Many children around here have never really seen people play music in person before, other than maybe in the school band, or whatever.

Having said that, I don’t think it’s always appropriate in every setting. A dark pub, late at night, with adults consuming alcoholic beverages, swearing, and telling off-color jokes isn’t necessarily the place for kids to be.

But if the venue is kid-friendly, then I don’t see why the session shouldn’t be…

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To clarify twh’s post about Ireland, anyone under the age of 18 is only allowed in licensed premises if accompanied by a parent or guardian and, in such circumstances, may only remain on the premises up until 9pm (extended to 10pm from May to September). Those aged 15-17 may remain on the premises after 9pm if they are attending a private function where a meal is being served.

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I’d agree that most children learning to play traditional Irish music are much less likely to wreck a session than adult learners. They’re often a lot better too. Those early adolescent years seem to make all the difference to the development of musical ability. I was in a session at the Blacksticks in east Clare a while back and there were more kids than adults (all of them brilliant musicians already) until they had to go home at around midnight. Then we were allowed to tell dirty jokes and start swearing again…

This whole thing of excluding children has always been one of the things I dislike most about English pubs…

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Dragut Reis, I grew up in the kind of town where eyebrows were raised if a woman strayed from her proper place in the lounge and went into the bar, never mind kids coming in.

Re: Kids at sessions

what’s wrong with a kid at a session?

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fidkid, it sounds like the consensus is, “nothing wrong with it!”

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Dragut Reis, I’m 17 and English; I’ve never had any problem with going into pubs after 9, and most sessions I’ve been to have had a fair few kids younger than me there.

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As long as they aren’t real learners - it is a waste of time trying to play in sessions before you have learnt where the notes are.

I have always made a point of encouraging kids who show promise, but there are some who are still playing the same tunes 4 years later.

Probably both of the above apply to some adults as well, who should be watching and listening, rather than trying to play in session.

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Here in the Cincinnati, OH area kids have been an integral part of our Irish music gang. All four of mine have played.

They are inculturated early, so we have very few behavior problems. They do sometimes get exuberant and play too fast for this old guy, but so much else of the time they are very willing to roll with the session pace, and I love to hear them on a tear from time to time.

I love having them there . They deal with adults as equals far more than most kids in the US, I think, and that’s good for all of us.

The Irish music kids I have met from the rest of the US, Canada, and elsewhere have almost uniformly been great people. Actually I could say the same about all the Irish musicians I have met.

Dan

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Indeed. Bring on the kiddies, you’re as welcome as anyone else.

Plus, if you’re short on cash (because you blew all your ducats on pints) they make a great snack.

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Ill never forget the fleadh at Letterkenny, i walked around one night trying to find a good session to listen to with some of my non-playing friends and it was hard to find one, until i came across a large group of up to 15 players with the eldest probably being 13 or 14, i can honestly say that every one of them would have blown most of the players i saw that weekend out of the water. great to see!!!!

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Kid’s are alway welcome at session if they are Interested in the music, But if they are just jumping around the furniture, Boy’s playing toy fights, ‘ Girl crying ’‘ I’am telling ‘’ - Then kid’s at a session can be a -- Pain in the { Better not saying it } - lol..
jim,,,

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I know adults in their 20s who still act like that, sometimes worse

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Tom, at 17 you don’t qualify as a ‘kid’ really. I think we’re talking about children, rather than young adults. In the deep south of England you’re much more likely to be told you can’t bring kids into a pub than you are in Ireland, but maybe things are a bit more relaxed in Brum, I don’t know. It was always entirely normal for kids in Ireland to spend long Saturday afternoons in the pub getting totally wired on red lemonade when I was an ankle-biter.. Not quite so chilled out in south England during the days before every pub started serving over-priced, second-rate Thai food…

David, I think you’re confusing yourself unnecessarily. Your link only serves to clarify the sentence you seem to be struggling with. Now I’m confused…

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We play in a pub that is also a restaurant, which means kids can come with their parents. I have seen two youngsters in particular who started there at about ten or eleven who are now both All-Ireland caliber players, better than I will ever be, even in my dreams! And nothing more fun than little dancers, like a two and three year old brother and sister we had a few weeks ago, talk about joyous abandon.
The only time I would hesitate to see a kid is when a session player brings an uninterested child to the session, perhaps because a babysitter can’t be found. This can lead to an ignored and unhappy kid, which tends to put a damper on the mood.

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Thanks MacCruiskeen, mind you I was at a private function in a licensed premises there a few weeks back and there were a good many children, 5 upwards, all there well into the late hours. Grand, no problem.
It’s like a lot of recent legislation in Ireland in that ‘hard cases make bad law’ - a minority of feckless parents who had their children hanging around whilst they boozed were used as an excuse to hasten in this law. The main effect of which is on ordinary decent parents who just wish to use the pub in a family friendly way.

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The only problem with kids at the session is that they want leave me in peace, brats, crisps juice dad dad dad………….. The trick seems to be to wait until your mid tune before they strike with out stretched grubby paw.

Still there are a fair few kid friendly sessions out there and more power to their elbow as it also means dad’s & mums can get out for a bit craic. Can’t see the problem myself provided circumstances are appropriate, especially if there’s a gang of them, just like water they make their own sauce.

Can’t say their welcome when things are high spirited late at night and dads three sheets to windward, then they should be tucked up in bed!

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Then who’s going to get you home in one piece?

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I usually am home or not unduly concerned about getting home under such circumstances : )

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🙂

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Wait till they grow up, then they can drive you home.

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Instead of driving you mad…

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My experience is that when they are old enough to drive, that is precisely the time they begin to drive you mad… 😉

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seamyderry
<I know adults in their 20s who still act like that, sometimes worse>
Yes! I’ll be playing with some of those tomorrow - lol

jim,,,

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This is going to sound awfully negative, but IF the session is in a pub, IF it goes on late into the evening, IF the kid in question isn’t at least a near-adult and IF they only know one or two tunes or can play only slowly then I personally don’t want ’em in my session, thanks. I want us to be able to play what we like, swear a bit, get all politically-incorrect, lust after the barmaids out loud occasionally, swig mucho brew and, in general, not have to act as role models just for a bit. There are times and places…

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Steve, up above I mentioned my grandfather’s bar. I was quite young in the 60’s but I can assure you the adults in A.B.‘s bar had no qualms about allowing me a bit of education not being taught in classrooms. I am grateful to my grandfather for making me welcome. I think my fathers’ friends liked me. I just wish the adults hadn’t always rubbed the top of my crew cut head, the way people did in those days.

It’s very important to protect children, as long as it isn’t smothering. Maybe there were just more people than my parents bringing me up.

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Odd, I thought I’d replied to that but it seems to have vanished. All I was saying was that I did put lots of “ifs” in that post, deliberately. As always, circumstances alter cases.

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We’re lucky -- we play in a kid-friendly pub. We’ve had kids join in, and we’ve had kids come up and ask about the instruments. When we have the space, we’ll pull up a chair and ask a kid who’s interested to sit in (to listen) and be part of the crew.

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