Adults learning Irish Music In the US

Adults learning Irish Music In the US

Whats the best way? No sheet music, just learn by ear, at sessions and off CD’s ( as some purists would tell you.)… or read the sheet music and commit to memory?
My thoughts …by ear is just fine, if you’re a little Kid in Ireland and pick it up that way from day one, but here in the States an Adult will never be able to assimilate such a large body of music that way and to learn this music in a reasonable time will mean picking a hundred or so tunes out of tunebooks and commiting them to menory….
BenS

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Learn by listening, watching, attending workshops or taking lessons. Sheet music is only good as a tool and secondary to learning by ear. Take it one tune at a time, don’t rush it. And remember to have fun, and enjoy the music — you are entering a musical world unique unto itself.

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I was an adult when I started learning Irish music. I’m still an adult, I’m still learning Irish music, and traditional music from lots of other places, too. I learn some by ear, some from sheets. It’s convenient to be able to read music, but imagine yourself unable to talk unless you were reading the words off a page. Don’t be reliant on sheet music.

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There’s nothing wrong with sheet music as such but you have to listen to other players in sessions, performances, and recordings to get the full picture. Learning by ear is the best but, even then, there are so many different settings and variations of tunes. With some tunes, it’s fairly obvious what the definitive version is but not so with many others. Of course, all the ornamentations require to be learned by ear. You’ll occasionally get them written down in sheet music but I find that’s unecessarily complicated—and it’s still just one player/transcriber’s opinion. Recordings are fine but they’re often special arrangements and not necessarily what gets played at your local session. Probably, the best situation is when you feel confident enough with your playing to adapt what’s going on around you. This can be quite difficult sometimes and even some of the better musicians can’t manage if they’re not used to playing in session situations.

John

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I’ve never seen any adult (or child) players in Ireland go anywhere near "the dots" when playing in sessions.

I agree with Jack’s comments. Sheet music is the basic recipe, but the masterpiece depends on the way the chef prepares it.

It’s not a problem to memorise hundreds of tunes if you play them all now and again as a "refresher", the tricky bit is remembering what they’re all called (a topic which has also been flogged to death on this BB).

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I wasn’t advocating the use of sheet music in sessions. It’s a waste of time, anyway, as the others would be on to the next tune before you got the music organised. However, it can be a useful tool for learning tunes, as long as you don’t rely on it exclusively.


John

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John - that conjures up an amusing image (would have made a great Hamlet cigar ad.).

I have seen some photos of US sessions on websites where I might be wrong, but I think all participants appeared to be inextricably linked to music stands.

Maybe the pace was a bit slower in those sessions.

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You asked whats the best way to learn tunes . . I would say if your good a "site reading" the dots , then you can quickly learn a large number of tunes using this site … then you can start to memorize them. Thats the way I’m doing it anyway.

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This topic has been discussed loads before, but I would like to say that I find it so much easier learning by ear than learning from sheet music. (Not to mention that you can’t get the proper lilt from the page of course) It’s almost like you skip an entire unneccessary part of the process when you learn by ear.

Sheet music is great when you have trouble with a few notes or forget how a part went and you didn’t record the lesson or workshop.

Trust me, learning by ear enables you to play much more complicated music faster than if you were trying to learn it from sheet music alone. (And no, Irish music isn’t particularly complicated, but when your instrument is harp and you have both melody and bass to contend with, it does get more complicated.)

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One of the problems however in learning tunes by using sheet music, is the inablity of some musicians to improvise … they have to play exactly whats written in front of them . so when they come say to a hard part they have to slow down or even stop before they can carry on!! Thankfully I donn’t have that problem . . I don’t think !

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Stewpot… I strongly suggest you contact, in person, someone who knows the music very well, maybe a professional, or at least someone who is undeniably well grounded in the tradition, and have them listen to you and help you assess how you’re doing. There’s a considerable danger in learning tunes from "the dots" regardless of how well you might sight-read. Unless you have many years of experience playing ITM (maybe you do) it

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Jack I do know a couple of people who have been playing ITM for a lot longer than me ,and yes I have come unstuck when I’ve tried to play a tune with them and the version Iv’e played is a bit different to there’s.
I may be trying to walk before I can crawl, I accept that. But the tunes are so addictive its hard not to want to play all the tunes all at once ! !
Where I play is not an purely irish night , its very informal, anything goes really Blues,bit of Bluegrass ,English folk music, etc. so there’s is no real pressure to get the tunes perfectly right.
I’m going to have to exert a bit of self control if I’m ever going to achieve anything in ITM I realise that.

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Here in Alabama, when Klari and I play a traditional song that may be a little bit different than the locals play, we merely give it another name and claim we learnt it thataway.

So for example when we play Rights of Man with a different note or two, we just call it the "Egg Suckin’ Dog" and play away.

Kesh jig is often called "Bugbite on the Booty"

There are others, coming soon to a session near you.

Bob and Klari

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Ben, I learned Irish trad, starting as a young adult, in the U.S. Based on my my 25 years of experience with it, I’d point out two things. First, it *is* possible to immerse yourself in the music here, even if you don’t live in Boston or New York or Chicago. I was lucky enough to live within an hour’s drive of Portland, OR, when I started, and so got a great boost from Kevin Burke. Chances are good that you can find a skilled, experienced Irish trad player in your neck of the woods, no matter where you live. And with their guidance, you can get a lot out of cds. Even just attending workshops and festivals once or twice a year can give you plenty to ingest and work on when you’re learning.

Second, playing this music isn’t about "assimilating a large body of music." Sure it’s fun to learn lots of tunes, and the more tunes you know, the more time you’ll spend actually playing at sessions. But it’s also completely respected (and also a lot of fun) to play just a few dozen tunes really well. Especially in the beginning—and then the tunes starting adding up on their own.

All that said, sheet music can be a useful memory aid. I’ve always collected tunes that way, and used the dots to remind me how a tune sounded. Personally, this helped me learn more tunes, faster. But only after I’d *listened* to good players playing those tunes.

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Sounds like the age old religious debate of " The Oral Law vs The Written Law " .

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I think there is a confusion here between learning Irish Music, and learning tunes. You can master the style and intricasies of this diddly stuff with only a couple of dozen tunes. Really, that’s all you need.

I’ve met plenty of great players who only know 20 odd tunes and I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of rubish players who know hundreds and hundreds of tunes.

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Can you learn Irish music without learning the tunes?

I would also suggest that the term ‘great’ could hardly be applied to someone who could only play ‘a couple of dozen’ tunes. What, that’s about 6 sets of tunes. That wouldn’t even cover all the types of tune in the tradition.

As a beginner you will be made welcome in most sessions even if you only have a few tunes and I agree with the comments above that quality is preferable to quantity. But there will be a sort of expectation that if you are going to sit in at the session on a regular basis that your repertoire will grow and develop. Otherwise you would end up getting bored yourself and probably boring the rest of the session. Believe me - I still get slagged off because of my limited repertoire of 10 years ago even though I can probably play 90% of the tunes now.

I have learned through the usual process of musical osmosis and find it’s bloody marvellous when you find yourself in a session playing a tune that you have not ‘learned’ but where your fingers appear to be playing without any direction from the conscious mind.

As to the question of what age a person is when they start learning the music - does it matter at all? Sure aren’t we all on a lifelong learning course - hardly matters when you join in??

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I agree with everthing you say breandon. Except 3 in to 24 goes 8 times. That’s room for a set of polkas, a of set of hornpipes, a set of slides, a set of slip jigs, 2 sets of jigs and 2 sets of reels. Play the slides like jigs, play the horpipes like reels etc, add a plethora of cheeky variations and you’ve got it covered.

Of course it’s more fun to know more though, but not essential to learning the traddition. I know someone who plays every single reel he knows (and it seems like thousands) like they were horpipes. He knows thousands of reels but really he knows none at all

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Yep and what about set dances, barn dances, highlands, schottishes, mazurkas, flings, marches, ………………….

I’m not arguing about what the timing is you understand. It may well be that mazurkas and waltzes are [just about] the same thing but unless you get around all the forms of tunes you will be missing out on important issues that bring an understanding of what the music is all about.

I guess the real analogy is with language. I might be able to carry on a conversation with a limited vocabulary of 500 words but it won’t get me very far in understanding if I can’t read the words of Shaw, Beckett, Shakespeare, Blake, etc. I also wouldn’t say that a person with a limited vocabulary is a ‘great’ linguist.

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Breandan, what you said about musical osmosis— where your fingers play without conscious direction— is what I’m trying to do with this music.

It’s like (fiction) writing: if you disconnect a bit and let the "creative" part of your brain have its say before you turn on the "editor" part, the piece can surprise you. You don’t "know" everything about it until the end.

With playing I use my hands, ear, memory and blood. (?) (can’t think of the right term.) This music is only just now settling into my blood—I didn’t grow up with it, but I’m listening a lot. My fingers and ear are better—they’ve been turned on to playing and studying music since I was a little kid. It’s the memory that always has and continues to suck. So if I learn from the dots and then memorize I’m sunk, because I forget. But If I learn a tune from a CD, or a tape of myself playing, or best yet—from a live person teaching me—I remember it, I can play it on different instruments and can even inject a few of my own little blood drops into it. ( :>)

So I guess I’m happiest playing when my brain is on idle. I listen to other folks and let my fingers do their thing and maybe hear in my head a different little lick to do for the next go around. If I’ve placed the tune in my hands via my ear and bypassed both dot memorization and head distraction. Maybe that’s a little like music meditation—that disconnect between the hearing/feeling-vs-critiquing/planning/organizing.

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…and Bob I loved your post!
Gena

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set dances, barn dances, highlands, schottishes, mazurkas, flings and marches might be PART of the tradition vbut they are not the HEART of it

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In the same way that the Mona Lisa may be part of art, or Seamus Heaney is only a part of poetry? Could anyone who had never read Heaney discuss in any meaningful way the role of poetry in Irish Society?

Perhaps we should also consider other rhymes for PART and HEART? :-)

Having a couple of dozen tunes is only a START.

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Gena . . yes I;ve been playing music since I was little, and I would say I have definetly "an ear for music".I play irish music on the mandolin, but when i play in pubs at night I play guitar and sing, Its a night all about joining in. When someone starts up a song or a tune, especially an unfamillar tune or song, I seem to be able to pick out the chords almost straight away, whereas most other people are unable to do this.
They often turn to me and ask,"what key is it in?" now to me is obvious from the start what key its in, I hope you don’t think I am bragging , because I’m not , I just find it easier to follow a song than others
Getting back to reading the dots, I learn tunes from the dots …repetition helps me to memorize the TUNE in my head.
Then when I play without the music, I don’t have a mental picture of the DOTS, I remember exactly what the tune sounds like. It’s then perhaps you can add your own personality to the music , improvise a bit and add ornaiments.

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BenS, I saw this thread last night and re-read your questions again this morning. Well, first off I saw in your bio that you’ve been playing Irish music for 6 years. What have you been doing all this time : ) I’m not being sarcastic, I’m just curious. That’s a lot of time to devote to learning and studying Irish Trad Music. Another question I pose to you is what do you mean by "reasonable time"? There are no short cuts to learning and being able to play in Irish sessions.

Can someone outside of Ireland learn Irish Trad Music later in life? Sure, but it won’t be easy and it will take a lot of time, energy, thick skin, and most importantly: passion and love of the Music.

I’m 34 years old and have been playing for a little over 3 years w/o any classical flute training or other experience with other instruments. Here are a few things I recommend. Now everyone is different so my advice should just be food for thought.

1) Take as many private lessons in the beginning as you can (especially if you’re like me and lack a decent musical background). Even when I was w/o a flute teacher, I found good Irish musicians of other instruments who were willing to help me out. A great fiddle player from Boston who now lives in Vermont used to spend time listening to how I was coming along and would suggest advice. She also helped me "fix" my problem tunes. Right now a lovely box player from Ireland is teaching me tunes and spends a lot of time playing music with me. I’m sure someone in Greensboro would be willing to help you out a bit.

2) Invest in a decent Mini Disc Recorder (or something comparable) and have a teacher/good Irish Musician record some tunes for you to learn. Use your recorder at sessions, workshops, concerts, etc and slowly learn these tunes.

3) Listen to your mini disc recordings over and over again and let them sink into your head before learning them. Many people here have also preached this same advice. When you sit down and learn the tunes, it will be so much easier.

4) Like Jack said above, learn one tune at a time. Do it at your own pace. I’ve heard many times that 2-3 tunes a week is ideal. I personally have made a commitment to do this and believe me, the tunes do start adding up.

5) Make a commitment to attend as many festivals/workshops as you can. I have found week long workshops to be extremely helpful and hugely inspiring and sometimes even life changing.

6) Listen to good commercial recordings as much as you can. Have some CD’s playing while cleaning the house or driving in your car or working out in the yard. All this soakage will start adding up.

7) My last bit of advice might not be feasible for everyone, but I’m gonna say it. Get over to Ireland for a holiday. Do a festival, listen to some sessions, just get over there! : )

I live in rural Vermont, 200 miles from Boston, 500 miles from NYC and 3,000 miles from Ireland but I seek out every opportunity I can to be exposed to good Irish Trad. It’s probably gonna take me another 10 years or so to really be able to play in top-notch sessions in Ireland, w/o annoying anyone. But so far, I don’t think I’m doing too badly learning and playing the Music. I’m having a really great time making a go at it. Who cares if it takes a long time to be decent. I’m enjoying the ride.

Well, I think I’ve avoided work long enough…time to get cracking…

Joyce

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Gena, it is best not to encourage me.

More Alabama titles

Carolans Concerto = The Double Meat Burger

Harvest Home = It’s just a Palmetto Bug

Mtn Road = The Balfasz from Belfast (you will need a Hungarian for the translation)

Bob

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RE: sheet music. I think it’s a great asset to be able to read music. When I forget how a tune starts, I sometimes refer to my tunebooks for a quick refresher of the first few notes. It’s fun sometimes to browse through tunebooks or even see what new tunes are posted on this site. But to learn Irish tunes from sheet music when you are a beginner is only setting yourself up for failure….you just don’t get the flavor, lift, or the heart and soul of the tune from the dots……

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Hey Joyce, thanks for your post. I find it encouraging. I’m 30 and just getting started, and of course I’ve wondered if I’m just kidding myself to try and break into a hobby like this at my age. What you had to say gives me hope…and truth is I’ve been having a blast so far. I leave for Ireland next week ;)

As for the dots vs. ear debate…from what I understand different people process auditory, visual and kinestheitc information differently. Some folks take info in more readily via visual input, and then assimilate it by hearing it and then, ultimately, doing it. Someone else might learn more quickly by hearing a tune, then trying to play it, then seeing the sheet music (I’d fall in that catagory, I think). There’s a book called "Open Mind" by a woman named Dawna Markova that goes into great detail about this. According to her there are 6 different learning patterns based on the way we process the different types of sensory input. This explains why some people have an easier time learning by ear than others, and why some find sheet music more useful than others. Its just a question of figuring out how you process information and using the techniques that best accomodate that pattern.

Oddly, she doesn’t discuss people who learn best by tasting…

~imp

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Hi Imp, have fun in Ireland!

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I think you should learn however you learn best in the beginning. I started by reading music and now I don’t need it. However, if you learn best by ear, don’t sell the US short. It has tons of great music happening if you live in certain areas. Even Alaska has the Anchorage festival and they seem to be having a great time there. If you learn best by ear, grab you cd player and check out whats going on in your area. Especially if you live in places like Boston or New York. There is sessions everyday in Toronto except Saturday, I don’t feel that I’m at a disadvantage compared to kids in Ireland. Although, I do wish we had more summer festivals… Ours are so spread out accross North America that its just not possible to go to more than 1 or 2.

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The sessions I attend include several orchestra violinists, and I am absolutely stunned by how they can take the sheet music and immediately play what’s written at full speed. Ok, granted they don’t add any rolls or other ornamentation, and variations are pretty much out of the question, but from listening they do have a good appreciation for lilt and what they do blends in pretty nicely with some of the more traditional players who add the "nyaah" interest to the mix.

I suppose it looks a bit odd to see the music books hauled out at a session, but so long as there is a core of traditional players and the overall result feels satisfying, what’s the harm?

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It must be really hard to constantly be flipping through tunebooks during a session, finding the right sheet music. Does someone yell out what tune will be played next in a set for the violinists so they can ruffle through their tunebook and find the next tune? What if the next tune is *not* in the book. What do they do?? Gosh, it just seems really difficult to bring a music stand and tunebook to a session. I’ve never seen this before. It does seem odd : )

Joyce

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist that ; )

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Of course, there are all sorts of sessions. Some are for beginners but there’s many where "beginners are welcome(or not)"or come along. It’s quite funny to see them frantically search through their books and hear them cry "It’s in the 2nd book or the green book or whatever". Even better, when you’ve finished the set before they find the tune. :-)

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I think I should clarify my post. I think its ok to read shett music at home to learn the tune. However, the goal is to get it into your head. By ear or written music. Unless it is a slow session AND the session leader has said sheet music welcome, its not ok to show up with a bunch of tune books. The main reason for this is that you are supposed to be playing your local tunes. If you come in with a tune book with 400 tunes in it, thats unacceptable. Secondly, if you still need the music, you don’t know the tune well enough to play in public. Don’t get me wrong, some session leaders who are trying to build an ITM community will welcome sheet music to get people into it and even pass out music for everyone. But some don’t.

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Apart from very very rare exceptions where say someone hands a special arrangement to their fellow sessioneer to play along on, I’ve never seen *anyone* with sheet music out at any sessions in the New York area. Period. Even the open beginner sessions. I don’t know what pictures Concertina Player saw. Maybe it was a beginner’s class at an community hall or something.

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The "orchestra violinists" are only playing Irish melodies when they sight-read the tunes. The ITM still eludes them, I’ve seen this many times. People seem to want some kind of easy answer, or short-cuts for learning and collecting tunes, but the fact that none exist is a big part of what makes ITM so appealing and keeps our interest for generation after generation. In this thread you can see evidence that people want to play ITM, know tons of tunes to play at sessions, and accomplish it in a short amount of time. Sorry… it’s not going to happen. If it were possible, we might all get bored with it just as fast.

Smoking and the bodhran

Before I began to learn and play ITM I didn’t play bodhran, and I didn’t smoke. Sitting in at sessions was a frustrating experience because I only knew a handful of tunes. I would fill up the idle time rolling ciggies for myself as well as the musicians who did know a lot of tunes, and when I finished doing that, I needed something else to do — so I learned to play bodhran

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I was gonna say I’ve never seen sheet music in any Boston session, but I got raked over the coals the last time I mentioned Boston or NYC sessions……LOL……

Hey, it’s all good. If some folks want to use sheet music, hell, let them. who cares…life if short, so play music and just have FUN : )

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Yeah I don’t care if people do either, actually. I was just surprised about the US pictures. I wonder where those were from.

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We have these Fiddle societies in Scotland (I actually play with one) and the practice is to read the music off the sheets. It sounds a bit like a sophisticated midi file and all the individuality and style is lost. However, I suppose that it has to be like that. There’s a lot of really good musicians who play for these societies and their sight reading is fantastic(much better than mine) but many of them would be totally lost in a session. I much prefer sessions and playing by ear or memory myself but going to these fiddle society events can be fun too and a good source of tunes.

John

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Yeah, Jack’s totally right. There are no short cuts….it’s tough in the beginning, especially when you only know a few tunes….but it really does get better if you put your mind to it. I definitely know more tunes than a year ago. I play a little more and drink a little less and my music buddies have even said my playing is improving (sometimes it doesn’t feel like it). But I still have a long long ways to go……..

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Jack,

I do the saturation listening technique you describe. I’m not quite as good at the end result as you are but my learning time keeps getting faster and faster. I also will admit to finding the sheet music but only after a tune gets stuck in my head and then I only use it for a day or two. It all starts with the listening though.

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Jack,

You’re right - the orchestra violinists are only playing Irish melodies when sight-reading. Viewed from a classical or popular music perspective they are doing an extremely good job at it; they are fine musicians, but - ok - not ITMusos.

Now, here’s the thing. We have a tremendous accordianist who most definitely is the real thing. She adds lift, variation, and ornamentation to the tunes and, as they say, "you can smell the turf off of it." There are also several other players who play a fine flute, fiddle, bodhran, and guitar in the same vein. And, to my ear, the violinists who are "playing Irish melodies" complement them all very well. There’s certainly no conflict going on, and the session is better for having them there (as opposed to them leaving.)

Joyce, there’s two sessions I go to. One is probably not a "session" in the strict sense of the word, more of a gathering of musicians in peoples’ homes to learn and practice tunes together. Each person picks his or her set in turn, and leaves a few minutes for those who want to to fish out the appropriate music sheets before kicking it off. The other session attracts fewer music readers, but again the sets are chosen and announced before they’re kicked off so there’s no panic involved.

Nice and civilized but, hey, we’re Canadian… :>)

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Grego — anything’s possible when you’re playing tunes way out in the outback of ITM. ;-)

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JohnJ - re "the "Strathspey & Reel" Societies and "Fiddle & Accordion " clubs you’re referring to in Scotland, you say - "I suppose it has to be like that". !!! I would have thought that the Irish experience would have taught us that , actually, no, it doesn’t. I agree with you saying that in these situations "all the style and individuality are lost" - but then, why bother?

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Most of my wed night session buddies don’t know how to read music, so it’s kind of a moot point for me. It’s an interesting topic, tho….

Grego, like I said, it’s *all* good ; ) Hey it sure beats sitting around watching Fox television or NBC’s Survivor….lol…..

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Major second to that one. I’ve don’t even own a TV. Everytime I go visit my parents I watch for a while and realize my attention span’s way too long. Wander off and practice some tunes somewhere else in the house.

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LOL…yeah if it were up to me, there would be no tv in the house, but my husband seems to think he needs 180 channels on the Dish Network…..sad, but true…I’d rather go play some tunes than watch tv….but I do like to order movies sometimes off the dish : )

We finally get PBS (a public station with good informative news and educational programs) and now I can watch the Charlie Rose interviews, but I still don’t have time….too many tunes to learn!!!

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TVs fine, I didn’t mean to sound snobbish. It does seem for me though, that playing music and reading provides about as much "entertainment" as I have time for. Maybe I was meant to live in a simpler age.

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This is way off topic, but since you brought it up… nobody should ever watch Fox News.

Researchers from the Program on International Policy Attitudes (a joint project of several academic centers, some of them based at the University of Maryland) and Knowledge Networks, a California-based polling firm, have spent the better part of 2003 tracking the public’s misperceptions of major news events and polling people to find out just where they go to get things so balled up. In October 2003 they released their findings, which go a long way toward explaining why there’s so little common ground in American politics today: People are proceeding from radically different sets of facts, some so different that they’re altogether fiction. The researchers asked where the respondents most commonly went to get their news. The fair and balanced folks at Fox, the survey concludes, were "the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions." Eighty percent of Fox viewers believed at least one of these un-facts; The United States had uncovered evidence demonstrating a close working relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. We had found the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Most people in other countries had backed the U.S. war against Saddam Hussein.

I rest my case

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Hmmmm. (re Fox) Do people believe that people get abducted by space aliens because they read the National Enquirer, or do they read the Enquirer because they believe people get abducted by space aliens?

(re topic) Do people sight read Irish tunes because they are able to, or do they learn to sight read in order to play tunes?


… well, I tried.

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hmmmm… space Aliens — WMDs in Iraq… interesting comparison. hahahaha (actually it’s not that funny is it)

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Yes, playing the Music is far better than watching Fox News or reading the Enquirer, whether you sight read or not : )

5:30!!! Eeeek, time to go!

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WMD’s more like Weapons of Mass Disapearence no destruction there. Some people are just born able to site read I site read really really well. Jack you are soooo right fox news sucks. Ok we should stop talking about news Jeremy might shut done this thread.

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According to a survey done of admirers of ITM, 9 out of ten Fox news viewers also believe it is OK to request that the sessioneers play "Danny Boy" during an instrumental evening of jigs and reels.

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What is this, the session or moveon.org? Thank God for Fox News

Re: Adults learning Irish Music In the US

Other random comments inspired by this thread, ya gotta have tunes. Lots of tunes. All kinds of different, crazy, wierd, diverse and unexpected tunes. And buckets of standard ordinary tunes. And tunes you just make up on the spot because you forgot the B part of something and you need to get through it so you can start something else. Playing the same tunes, or sets of tunes, at every session is dull no matter how good you are.

Re. sheet music: When a tune is only half absorbed from sessions I look at sheet music to squeeze the notes out of my fingers in the right order. Once I can flawlessly string the notes together *without* the sheet music, I can start learning how to play the tune. I also use notation (usu. scrawled on napkins or beer coasters) to jot down chunks of tunes that are in my head already due to osmosis, but I haven’t yet learned to play.

Re: Adults learning Irish Music In the US

This thread is about learning ITM in the US but I was gobsmacked by the idea of notes at a session - it just isn’t done here AT ALL. But I suppose if a group of people are all learning together it would be okay to have the notes to hand but not in public. When I started out my first teacher was Paul McGrattan and he gave us the notes on a blackboard and then we played the tune over and over and you usually had a good grasp of it by the time the lesson was over. Then at the Willie Clancy in Milltown we were introduced to the idea of learning by ear and I was absolutely certain I could never do this but thanks to Catherine. McEvoy I got the idea and while I might be a bit slow I can do it. I’ve attended lots of different teachers (latest being Michael McNamara) and they all teach by ear but also give out the notes to help at home. Michael Tubridy taught by ear and then made us write out the notes ourselves so that we got a proper grasp of the tune.

Re: Adults learning Irish Music In the US

I undestand there is an inscription over the entrance to Fox News HQ that says: "Ignorance macht frei".

Re: Adults learning Irish Music In the US

I watch Fox News, the BBC, public television and listen to NPR and some really wild shortwave stations (left and right) and I can’t read a note of music. So there!

Re: Adults learning Irish Music In the US

Studies have shown people whose sole source of information is Fox news generally can’t read or write at all (never mind sheet music!) so don’t feel bad, fid.