Well, I guess I have to admit to being one of those disgusting academic musicians. Well paper trained, and much more knowledgeable about the technical ins and outs of music than many traditional players, but much less capable as a performer and much less capable of playing in the style than I suspect many folks are here. I’ve the "college union card" if you know what I mean, but I don’t intend to brag about that here or anywhere else.
Part of the reason I’m not a better player is my inability to specialize and the fact that I came to trad music playing rather late in life. I play English Concertina, B/C box, whistles, and hammered dulcimer and play music from a variety of traditions including Irish, Scots, Scandinavian and eastern European. The result is, of course, a lack of high technical skills on any of the instruments and a lack of ability to play stylistically in many of the traditions as well as those who delve deeply into particular traditions.
Fortunately, I’ve years (sometimes it seems like centuries) of chamber playing and group conducting so I’m good at following what others are doing, and I learn lots from listening to others and playing along with them. And my academic training has given me ears that hear well what others do, even if I can’t do it myself.
So, I’ll try to limit my comments here to things I know about and try to learn from the comments of those who seem to be better players than I.