PLEASE READ THIS FIRST!
Because the LVISS is a tune learning session, we are not currently welcoming accompaniment instruments, unless you plan to play strictly melody. This means guitar, bouzouki, harp, mandolin, among others–anything that can play a chord. I do apologize, but I need to be very strict about this. There is no offense intended toward you or your instrument, but I will be very firm about this rule. If you’re not sure about your instrument, please contact me before you come. We also can not teach you how to play your instrument. If you do not know how to find the notes on your instrument you are probably not ready to join us just yet. In that case it would be best if you could continue with your private lessons until you can play simple tunes. Then come join us!
Please read the guidelines completely before you come!
So here are some guidelines. These guidelines are based on those found at the slowplayers.org website, and pertain to slow sessions in particular, though you may want to peruse the site there and read what they say about regular session etiquette as well.
The goals of the slow session and its musicians are:
- to learn how to learn tunes by ear, with a teacher and eventually on the fly
- to learn about session etiquette in preparation for moving to other sessions
- to get the tempo up to fast session speeds (or close to it)
- to learn good session tunes from our anchors (and possibly from each other)
- to learn more about the tunes and the tradition, where they come from, how they’re played in different places, etc.
- and most importantly, to have fun!
WHAT ISN’T THE SESSION? There are limits to what our session can and should be. Here are some things we feel are outside the purview of our session:
- IT IS NOT SINGING–although some pub sessions DO include some singing, that isn’t the emphasis of this endeavor.
- IT IS NOT JAMMING–jamming equates to improvisation. There are specific tunes that we are trying to learn with melodies that are played in a very specific way. Improvisation doesn’t have a place. So please, don’t call it a jam.
- IT IS NOT PRIVATE MUSIC LESSONS FOR YOUR INSTRUMENT–You need to be the sort of beginner who can play simple tunes on your instrument before you come to the session. If you can’t yet play simple tunes on your instrument, you will end up needing to be taught how to play and we cannot do that. This session cannot replace private lessons for your specific instrument.
- Please check back here for a list of local music instructors. For now, please check out the LINKS & RESOURCES page for organizations that offer group and individual instruction.
- IT IS NOT ANYTHING BUT IRISH–I have created the LVISS as an IRISH session, not Scottish, Quebecois, old time, bluegrass, or any other folk tradition. Just Irish. We don’t learn or play tunes from other genres–you’ll have to do that at another session, or create your own session. Think of it this way–you wouldn’t go to a Russian conversation circle and start speaking French, and you wouldn’t play Scottish music at a session that’s dedicated to Irish. There MAY BE sessions that allow it–this isn’t one of them.
- IT DOES NOT INVOLVE CERTAIN INSTRUMENTS–Namely–doumbek, bongos, shakers, zithers, tambourines, spoons, ouds, sitars, bass guitar, anything electric, upright bass, autoharp, ukulele, trumpet, sax, tuba, trombone, cello, oboe, clarinet, other “band” or “orchestral” instruments, kazoo, vuvuzela, drum set, conga, cajon, cuica, finger cymbals, those little wooden frogs with the ribs on their backs, and many more. Exactly WHAT is considered appropriate for Irish traditional music (ITM) sessions is hotly debated in some circles, and while some instruments are tolerated or even welcome in many sessions, in others they would be strictly prohibited. the list above reflects instruments that are generally never welcome in sessions, or, if they are welcome, that session is no longer “traditional.” The LVISS IS traditional.
To explain this “exclusivity” thing to others, I think of it as trying to preserve, enjoy and “reenact” a specific cultural phenomenon–the traditional Irish session. To do that you need to keep it within certain boundaries. There’s room for going beyond the boundaries elsewhere, but not in the session itself. You wouldn’t wear an Imperial Stormtrooper or WWII uniform to a civil war reenactment or something similar. Nor would you bring a tuba or a doumbek to a session.
ON SHEET MUSIC: Our anchors are NOT going to provide you with sheet music for the tunes they teach. We do not disallow the use of sheet music–you’re welcome to bring it if that’s what gets you going, but we’d like to encourage you to try your best not to use it first. If that doesn’t work for you, do feel free to use it to your hearts content. For many people it’s much easier to learn the tunes by ear. Learning by ear has many advantages–after a little practice:
- you’ll learn faster
- you’ll retain the tunes better
- you’ll be able to remember more tunes
- you’ll get the rhythm and feel of the tunes more authentically
- you’ll get the tune up to tempo more quickly
- you’ll be able to concentrate on technique rather than remembering the tune
- you’ll be able to work on variations of settings much earlier
- you won’t have to find a place to store all that paper!
I sincerely hope to see you at the session!