What is a Session?
An Irish music session is an informal gathering of musicians who play traditional Irish tunes together. It is not a performance or an open mike, but a group of players who share in a repertoire of this traditional music.
Bellingham Ceili Club is designed to provide a session experience for for players who want to play tunes at a slow to moderate speed. At least 75% of the tunes played during the session will be from the list of common tunes posted on the BCC web site. If you are calling a set for the slow session, include one or more tunes from this list.
- If you don't know a tune, listen at least once before trying to play anything along with it. Whether you're trying to pick out a few notes of the melody or add chords/rhythm, it's easy to miss cruical elements of a tune (repeats, key changes, etc.) if you aren't giving it your full attention at least one time around.
- Play for the group and for yourself. Sessions are a great opportunity to practice tunes and get experience playing with other people. Remember that your playing should be adding to the group's strength and overall sound at all times. If you can't hear the group playing over your own sound, then you are probably playing too loudly.
- If you mess up, don't stop! When you are playing with a group everyone is relying on each other. If you are leading a tune, maintain the timing above all else so that the rest of the group can continue to play together. If you find you are making too many errors or have a hard time finding your place, you should spend more time learning the tune outside of the session.
Here are some general guidelines for attending Bellingham Ceili Club sessions:
- Tunes should be repeated a minimum of three or four times when played in a session. This gives everyone a chance to become somewhat familiar with the tune before moving on.
- It is preferable to play jigs/reels/hornpipes/slip jigs/polkas/mazurkas in a set of at least two or more tunes. This allows for a longer playing time without a break, and creates fun transitions. Airs or slower tunes can be played alone or in sets.
- Tunes shouldn't be part of a set more than once during each session. If you arrived late and your favorite tune was already played, you'll have to catch it next time. This keeps the music fresh for everyone.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions!