I did something wrong- but what? (Session etiquette- LONG!)
Hello folks! Another fiddler here. This is my first post.
I need an informed perspective on a session blunder that I seem to have committed.
Background: I am not new to the session scene. I grew up going to sessions with my mum. I know all the usual etiquette and I had it all in mind when I went to a session recently that I have never been to before (out of town). I knew the session leader from a previous encounter and he invited me to sit down. I knew nearly all the tunes and played on almost all of them (was that my mistake?) but not loudly at all.
After I had been there for over an hour, the session leader got up to talk to some people at the bar and I was chatting to the people around me. Somebody asked me what I’ve been playing and I started to play (this had to have been it)- I think it was the Wedding Reel. None of the melodic instruments joined in (red flag, I know!) *but* both of the guitarists who are clearly regulars at the session were playing along with me and when I paused after playing the tune they said to keep going and we did it one more time. The session leader still wasn’t back yet and nobody else was playing or even talking so I went into another tune (Stan Chapman’s, I think) and again the guitarists followed me (were they just being polite?) And again nobody knew it (and these are not obscure tunes, are they?) and again I stopped after two times through.
But I definitely got the vibe afterwards that I had committed a mortal sin. Is it always wrong to be the only fiddler playing even if you stop when it’s abundantly clear that nobody knows the tune? And aren’t sessions partially for learning tunes?
The thing is- I run a session in my home town and I do my best to make newcomers feel welcome and to clue them in as to that particular session’s etiquette so perhaps I was feeling too confident that I was going to be welcomed. Did I just miss the boat completely and stick my foot in it? I feel badly about it but I also have a bit of righteous indignation that perhaps you can help me shake off.
One last thing- do you find that sessions are less welcoming to advanced players than they are to beginners? I am advanced on my fiddle but a total beginner on mandolin and guitar and I often find that it is easier as a beginner to settle into a new session. When I am fiddling, I have to figure out a variety of ways to communicate that I am not trying to stand out, not trying to show off, etc.
Anyway- I am going to another new session this weekend and it would be great if you could school me so I don’t alienate myself again. All advice is welcome. Please don’t edit yourself. I can take it.