Celtic Slow Session Etiquette

March 23, 2023
picture of variety celtic instruments. "Celtic Slow Session Tunes"

Are you interested in joining our Celtic Slow Session, but aren’t sure what a session looks like, or what the etiquette is?

Fear no more…..we’ve got you covered.

In most Celtic sessions, you won’t have a music stand or music. That goes for most slow sessions as well. In fact, we encourage you not to. However – we realize that some people learn better with music in front of them, so our Celtic Slow Session will be music stand friendly. If you want a music stand, bring it with you, and do your best to wean yourself away from it as time goes on. 🙂

Other bits of etiquette: If you’ve ever been to an open jam session before, you’ll find a Celtic Session is a bit different.

Things to keep in mind

Adapted from PEI fiddler Roy Johnstone’s website:

  • Sit out on tunes that you don’t know. If you don’t know a tune, don’t play. Don’t drone, backup, interpret, or otherwise prettify. The best way to not play is to disengage from your instrument. Put it on your lap or on the floor. While sitting out, keep conversation quiet and to a minimum.
  • When someone starts a set, it’s their set, their tunes, their tempo. If you start a set, choose a tempo close to the session norm – not much faster or slower. Watch your volume – each player needs to hear everyone else. Position yourself so that every player has a sightline to the center and to each other.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the name of a tune that you’d like to learn!
  • The player who starts the set dictates the tempo. Don’t push or drag.
  • Quality is far more important than speed.
  • Keep your instrument in tune.
  • Minimize cell phone usage except for recording tunes to learn at home.
  • Backup instruments – be ultra-mindful, play a solid simple texture at an appropriate volume, don’t play “stock” chord progressions. If you don’t know a tune and its chords, don’t play. Keep the rhythms simple, steady, and strong.

If there are multiple backup instruments, consider taking turns.
-Adapted from Roy Johnstone, Irish Session Etiquette  http://royjohnstone.com/page/irish-session-etiquette

Ready to join us? Find out how to join us!