Session Do’s and Don’ts

Session Do’s and Don’ts

Well, I finally found a session in my area. Before I head down there, though, what are some "do’s and don’ts" of a "normal" session? I was planning on just sitting kinda outside the circle, learning the tunes, and playing (whistle/flute) quietly on the ones I know.

Thanks!
-P

Re: Session Do’s and Don’ts

Hooray for you!

Session etiquette is peculiar to each session, depending on the regular inhabitants and their mood at the time, blah blah blah.

In general, though, introduce yourself first and ask if you can play with them that evening, figure out who the session leaders are (official or defacto) and defer to how they like to run the session, and stay alert to what’s going on, and you should be just fine.

It’s really not all that hard — just be as polite as you regularly are when joining a group of folks you don’t know engaged in an activity you want to join in on.

P.s.

Oh, and we’ve any amount of the nit-picky arcane stuff in the archives. Do a search on "session etiquette" and you’ll see what I mean. :)

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Oh and apparantly wear clothes….some people are
sooooo particular about that !

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*smirk* Just depends on who it is not wearing any clothes, Fin.

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That’s just nudist-ist !!!!

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If it’s a nudist session PLEASE watch what your whistle might be dribbling on.

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Yes, and watch those regulators, they can pinch.

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Just Do what they Do & Don’t Do what they Don’t Do - Simple!

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Thanks, folks! Ya know, with as much "discussion board" experience as I supposedly have, you’d THINK that I’d remember to do a topic search! <rolling eyes at self>

Regardless, thanks all for the hints, and yep, Ottery, a dribbly whistle is NEVER a good thing, clothed or not!

-P

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I don’t know how you can talk about dribbling, with a name like Philem …

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‘Zina said it and I reiterate: Introduce yourself first, say hello. There is little more irritating that someone just puling up a chair behind you and tooting/scraping away.

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Gods no, Michael!! I was actually not even going to take my windbag (that satchel what holds the flutes and tooters) into the place at first. I was not going to try to join in until invited. Guess I didn’t actually say that though, eh? <laugh> I had fully intended on introducing myself, and it’s good to know that’s the "enlightened" thing to do.

And, ease up on the name bashing there, Mr. "small water weasel!" <smile> Seems to be THEY do more dribbling than ANYTHING I could hope to match, eh? :-)

-P

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Watch yourself Philem. I used to look after a couple in Twycross Zoo & they have some of the sharpest teeth in the animal kingdom - them Ottery things!!

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It’s not the quantity that was worrying me, Phlem, more the viscosity …

Small water weasel indeed! Otters are bigger than weasels, everyone knows that ….

And I bet you can’t lie on your back in the water and eat an oyster off your stomach!

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Hey Ottery, what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom, on your water bed, is your own business & I don’t think you should go any further!! :-)

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Oh, and do try to avoid noodling!

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I could really go for some noodles and oysters right now.

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I got the noodles (Udon) and seafood, but not oysters on my way home from work. Thanks. It hit the spot.

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One order of Thai fresh rolls with rice noodles and shrimp, please.

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On topic, I ran into someone the other day who suggested that the basic session rules of etiquette could be summed up with the monster truck quote "Get in, sit down, shut up, and hang on!"

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Hey Fiddle, how’s yer brother, ‘Danger’?

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I can think of lots of things that are more irritating than that.

Like going to a session where you do all the right things and don’t play tunes you don’t know or can’t manage at that session’s speed, and then having to field persistent comments (almost to the point of heckling) most of the night about you *not* playing. (Recent experience in two different sessions, totally separate to the usual friendly encouragement to "give us a tune".)

A bit OT, I know - Philem’s asking how newcomers should behave, not how sessions should treat newcomers. There are dos and don’ts for both parties, though. Topic for another discussion sometime, perhaps.

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Rule Number One - complain that they didn’t tell you all the tunes and all the keys and let you practise them slowly before they played the set. (This has happened more than once)

Rule Number Two - complain they don’t play any tunes you know (this should only be tried after you have attended the session for at lease three years)

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Sorry - don’t try and lease a session for at least three years.

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<quote>on’t try and lease a session for at least three years.</quote>

Ah! I wanted to buy one outright, or perhaps through hire purchase. I didn’t realise that leasing was an option though…
:)

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Sorry to bring names up again, but it’s just come to my notice that on the current page 2 of the Yellow Board, we have contributions from ‘Bile’ and ‘Philem’.

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How about "be yourself" and don’t worry. You’re not at work or at home and you go to a pub to relax. People should greet you and be tolerant or maybe not but it doesn’t really matter. Life is too short for "Session Do’s and Don’ts"

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Tish,
That irritates me too. Smart comments like "You’ve not played that thing all night" and so on. I suppose that’s why we should "suss out" a session before joining in or taking up a valuable seat. Still, in most good sessions, you will be invited to start a tune by the regulars. I wouldn’t expect it though and, obviously, I would give way to regular player who knew the repertoire.
Even the best(sorry, we don’t like to use that word here) players can find themselves in a session where they know very little of the usual repertoire. Fortunately for them, they are more likely have the confidence and also the respect of those there to "turn things around" and "call the tune". Us lesser mortals can’t get away with that.

JPcares,
Surely the fact that you’re not in a familiar environment such as home or work should suggest that you be polite and respect the "rules and customs" albeit unwritten when you go to a session. "Be yourself" is surely not a good recommendation for some people. I’ve met some absolutely dreadful people in my time and I’d much rather they’d "be themselves" somewhere else.

Basically, it’s just "good manners" and showing respect for those who are already there.

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JohnJ, what made it so annoying was that I always do my damndest to not take up a valuable seat - that’s why I’m always intentionally just a little bit late so I can take an outer seat without making a big thing of it - and I did start tunes, in my own good time, once I’d sussed things out a bit. I’m not shy, I just don’t enjoy playing badly.

But yer man seemed to think I should be playing along from the start (because this was supposed to be a communal activity) even on things I didn’t know. Which he did himself, and even though he pulled it off pretty well, I could tell he didn’t know particular tunes. When you’re travelling, as I was, you might only have one chance to get to a particular session, which makes sussing out a bit difficult, so you’re inclined to bring the axe in case you do know a few tunes, but also to be prepared to listen most of the night. I wasn’t annoyed so much as surprised, I suppose.

In the second case, I was bothered by a punter. Same punter two weeks in a row, I think he’d forgotten he’d bothered me the week before. In both cases I arrived very late due to transport hassles, and I explained both weeks that I didn’t want to start a tune that might have already been played.

When I said the same thing to a sessioneer who’d invited me to start a tune, he gallantly said, "just start one you haven’t heard yet"! Which kinda made up for it :-) And so I did.

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"Life is too short for "Session Do’s and Don’ts"
Sessions are too short for everyone to just ‘be themselves’ - isn’t it meant to be a communal activity?
I don’t actually 100% disagree with you JP, but unfortunately, your approach only works if everyone behaves in a reasonable manner. What if someone’s idea of ‘being themselves’ includes behaviour like sitting six inches behind a fiddle player playing a huge PA with all bases blaring, and then attempting to thump said fiddle player when he asked him to stop playing in his ear? Or someone who waits until a somewhat nervous/inexperienced player finishes the first tune in a set before steaming in and loudly hijacking the set so that he can play the ones he usually plays with the first one? Or someone who leaps in at every break in the playing and plays (solo of course), a horrendously phrased, long, scratchy and out of tune slow air?
What then?

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Splerph….
Sorry, just had a brain picture of a Piano Accordian at a nudist session!!!
Will green tea through the nose cure hayfever?

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I’ve never experienced the problems you all decribe here. Everyone respects the music and the senior musicians of the group. Everyone is friendly and respectful. I think it’s most importent not to make a people uncomfortable over minor issues.

One time the leader of the session asked a guitarist to stop but this was a case where he had to. It was no minor issue. He was sure to greet her warmly the next time she came into the pub.

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I didn’t say that incident occurred at a nudist session, Baglady - please curb your lurid fantasising(though if you do want to Splerph yer tea, just visually picture the nudist piper, as he carelessly picks up the ‘wrong chanter’ and starts the finger The Pipe On The Hob’.)

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JP, I can assure you the three incidents described above are examples from the real world. They may not happen at the sessions you attend, and indeed sessions I attend are usually relatively harmonious and friction free. But they are just three incidents out of many I could relate(!)
Do tell us what your errant guitarist’s non-minor transgression was, and how you determine when a minor issue becomes one worthy of censure ….
Mark

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Used music with a stand, hacked our the chords loudly out of rhythm, sat right near the leader… impo: worthy of censure is when the leader can’t play anymore.

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Hi Philem,
Walk in with a smile and introduce yourself.

Tell the fiddler he’s too loud and not fast enough.
Fiddlers usually have inferiority complex’s thats why..so its good to boost their confidence.

Tell the bodhrán to play louder. If there are more then one of them, tell them to try out do each other - "It lifts the music"

Tell the flute, he sounds nice, but his version of the banshee isn’t really like the one on the Bothy Band album, and anyway they go into another tune after that.

Tell the mandolin and banjo players they both sound the same, and that traditionally they should not be there, and that once Kevin Burke said "even when they’re great the’re good"

Tell the Accordian that its not really good for this music cause you can’t do triplets, or cranes like the fiddle and the pipes.

Ask the Publican does he have "Tiers" to leave your instruments in while you go for a smoke.

Tell them Bouzoukis and guitars and mandolas and paino’s are really annoyin cause the people playing the melody need to concentrate, and hear them selves.

Tell the piper, that this isn’t scottish music, and the bagpipes dont really work.

Tell them all collectively that the best Irish music you ever heard was played in Ireland, cause after all, only Irish people can play it.

That should be it.

***

Ok philem on a serious note - u’l be grand just enjoy yourself.

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In other words — used "Don’ts".

We’ve gone round and round about whether anyone should worry about Session Etiquette in the past — check the archives for that if you really want to get all the hairy details — and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s no use slamming up from one side to the other.

Everyone should know the range of Do’s and Don’ts possible at a wide range of sessions. No one should worry overly much about it all and simply be as socially adaptable as they would in any group of people. No one should say that session etiquette should neither rule all nor not exist in the first place.

All social situations have an etiquette, including sessions. Each session’s etiquette is going to be unique to that group of people, and perhaps even that night.

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Yea that’s it Zina! Let me just add that the leader(s) will set the agenda with eye contact, facial expressions and words if nessesary.

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JP, sorry to sound like a contentious old blighter (which I am),
BUT,
when you say "the leader(s) will set the agenda with eye contact, facial expressions and words if necessary"
What exactly does that mean in the context of your ‘rule-free’ session?
It sounds a bit scary and Orwellian to me. I think I’d rather have the sort of session where everyone turns up and smiles at each other whilst subliminally snarling and growling under their breaths and sizing up the oppo, until a pecking order is established, and whoever emerges as King Rat for that part of the evening swings into a set, instantly followed by the yelping and slavering hordes frantically, sawing, blowing and squeezing their yokes, until their musicneed is sated, and the process of squaring up to choose the leader of the next set can begin. ;-)

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I was thinking the sessions I’ve been to is run by one or two senior players but that’s not true. I’ve been to groups plenty of times when there is no particular order and they work out fine. Just ignore me. - I type no more agggggggggggggggggggh….

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LOL — nice, water weasel…nice… :)

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Actually, most sessions do have a leader, or several leaders. Sometimes all the members of the session are leaders. It’s a role and a job, not a high calling or sanctified vocation, and all it means is that it’s the person who keeps the thing going.

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"several leaders"? That’s an interesting concept!

I suppose you mean the leading Fiddle player, the leading flute player etc etc?

"Sometimes all the members are leaders"? curiouser & curiouser! I guess when you start a set of tunes you automatically become a leader, although the starter doesn’t always finish a set, so in that case he or she relinquishes their leader role to whoever starts the next tune in the set?

But surely, if that were the case, then the Guitarist & Bodhran players would never be leaders, which makes sense & sounds good to me! Awwwwwwwwww :-)

I suppose, being a Ptarmigan, would put me high up in the social ‘pecking’ order of my session! ;-)

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Baglady carefully reining her thoughts away from otters, PAs, nudists, and alternative chanters (this thread has take some entertaining twists)…

Do be sensitive, polite, self-critical, and fun.

Don’t be rude, insensitive, self-absorbed, and boorish.

My catchall advice ‘Just relax and enjoy it.’

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It’s like Josephine Keegan’s advice on the best way to play Irish music. she said

‘Nicely’

That’s it.

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Quick, now, let’s define "nicely"!

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I asked her that.

She smiled, and leant forward for emphasis, and said

‘Nicely’

There you are now.

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I love that. What a beauty.

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Don’t fart.

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or blame someone else.

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Don’t eat tons of garlic before the session - especially if you play the flute or whistle…..

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Or if you do, make sure everyone else has had the same good feed as you….

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don’t eat onions either

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be yourself, and just join in when you can. if they ask you for a tune, play one that you know is well known and that u know well, also yourself.