Dear JennyO. I'm not a completely humourless eejit and I am well versed in irony. I've read the Folk Police threads with interest and I really enjoy the mudcat in general. Don't think of me as a curmudgeonly troll, please.
That said, I put it to you, and in fact to any interested 'catter. In what other musical genre is mediocrity and banality encouraged? None. Pure and simple. Blues, Jazz, Classical - in none of these are people persuaded that mediocrity is good. In all other musical forms, people are encouraged to practice (maybe even, gulp, on their own) and strive to become the best that they can be, pay their dues, respect experience, and take advice from people who know more/have wider experience. Not so, "folk", it would seem. Loads of mudcat contributors seem to advocate absolute beginners going to play in pubs with people who actually know what they're doing. Like I say, sessions are for developing technique and repertoire, not for learning basics of any instrument. Absolute beginners should be encouraged to go to sessions, but WITHOUT INSTRUMENTS, listen to people, talk to people, and find their way in. If that sounds snobbish, well it's exactly what I did - paying your dues, learning your trade, gaining experience. From personal experience as a bodhran teacher for 3 years, I make a point of telling my pupils that they will learn more in the first year by watching and listening than they will from playing in sessions. The whole folk ethos of being "good enough" just sticks in my throat, frankly. I know people who have been playing for at least 5 years, and they still play the same tunes in the same way, and have not developed at all. And you think this sort of mediocrity-embracing chumminess should be accepted?? I practice damn hard on bodhran, whistle, flute, pipes, and with singing, because I want to be as good as I can be at each of them - I've never accepted "good enough" and nobody should. Music is not a game - enjoy playing, and the friends you make, but every individual should be 100% committed to their musicianship, and never settle for "good enough. As you're a member, and I'm just an occasional guest, perhaps you'd like to start a thread entitled
"Why does "folk music" accept mediocrity and unwillingness to strive for personal development?".
So yeah, perhaps I appear like PC Plod of the Folk Police - but what you have failed to do is convince me that you believe in playing well, as opposed to just messing about.
As an aside, I'm not sure how we got from eggs and bodhrans to a treatise on standards and attitudes in folk music. Never mind.
Respectfully yours, a.w.