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beginner's session - then what?

Mo the caller 27 May 12 - 10:27 AM
GUEST 27 May 12 - 12:21 PM
Geoff the Duck 28 May 12 - 11:42 AM
Leadfingers 28 May 12 - 11:54 AM
Marje 28 May 12 - 12:55 PM
JohnInKansas 28 May 12 - 02:16 PM
Valmai Goodyear 28 May 12 - 03:03 PM
GUEST 28 May 12 - 06:38 PM
Phil Edwards 29 May 12 - 03:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 May 12 - 03:59 AM
Phil Edwards 29 May 12 - 04:36 AM
GUEST,Stan 29 May 12 - 04:44 AM
Mo the caller 29 May 12 - 06:50 AM
Mo the caller 29 May 12 - 06:59 AM
Phil Edwards 29 May 12 - 07:03 AM
Rob Naylor 29 May 12 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,leeneia 29 May 12 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,leeneia 29 May 12 - 10:32 AM
Phil Edwards 29 May 12 - 11:01 AM
Mo the caller 29 May 12 - 11:53 AM
GUEST 29 May 12 - 12:17 PM
Nick 29 May 12 - 12:23 PM
Nick 29 May 12 - 12:36 PM
Marje 30 May 12 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 May 12 - 08:44 AM
Phil Edwards 30 May 12 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,Chris P 31 May 12 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Chris P 31 May 12 - 06:09 AM
Leadfingers 31 May 12 - 06:51 AM
Phil Edwards 31 May 12 - 07:45 AM
John Routledge 31 May 12 - 08:09 AM
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Subject: beginner's session - then what?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 27 May 12 - 10:27 AM

What happens when all the beginners that came together to learn session tunes get too good?
I went to the Beech band's ceilidh on Fri. and was chatting to some people who came to dance but were also interested in learning instruments, or digging out old instruments and learning folk tunes.

It seems that there needs to be a constant round of new 'beginners sessions'. And people with knowledge and patience to lead them.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 12 - 12:21 PM

Regularly scheduled Irish music sessions at different levels have been working well for us in Dallas: beginner sessions twice a month at an apartment complex game room, intermediate sessions twice a month in the meeting room in a local pub, full-speed sessions twice a month at another pub or in someone's home, and invitation-only sessions as the Sunday, on-stage entertainment at a pub. Beginners are often folks who first heard the music at one of the pubs or at a festival like the North Texas Irish Festival. Sometimes folks who are already expert with one instrument will work on a new instrument at the beginner or intermediate session.

Why does this approach work for us? Some of it is being located in a large urban area where there a lots of players, and lots of opportunity for the public to hear Irish music. Another key is regularly scheduled sessions that people can make part of their routine, particularly since, in Texas, some of us may spend an hour or more travelling to and from a session. Spending hours travelling and then finding there was no session that day would be real turn-off.

More info:
http://www.traditionalirishmusicsessions.com/

- Phil


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 28 May 12 - 11:42 AM

One way to tackle it is an Early Doors session aimed at keeping it simple and slow, then after an agreed time, open it up to more difficult stuff. The beginners who are ready, can join in with what they are comfortable to do and either drop out, or play the bits they can manage in the later part of the evening.
You might find experienced players turning up after the "watershed".
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 May 12 - 11:54 AM

We do 'Easy' for about a half hour before the main sessiion - Some just come to the easy bit then leave , others stay and have a more up tempo practice - All very relaxed and easy going whatever the leve. of expertise


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Marje
Date: 28 May 12 - 12:55 PM

I haven't noticed a demand for this in our area but this may mean I've just not been aware of the need. There may be people who find our regular sessions off-putting and who'd prefer a slower or beginners' session. I suppose the answer is that if you'd like a beginners' session, ask around and see whether anyone is prepared to start one or set aside the early part of the evening for one. Ideally you want someone with some experience, so that they can point the newbies in the right direction to enable them to join in with established players.

I can see that one possible problem might be the venue - if there's a regular session in a public bar, and if the publican is providing a free drink for the session players, there is a certain pressure on the musicians to provide music of a listenable standard. A beginners' session to start off the evening might not be quite what the landlord had in mind. A back bar or upstairs room would be ideal, more like the sort of room you'd have for a song session.

Marje


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 28 May 12 - 02:16 PM

It's not really clear (to me at least) whether the concern in the original post is:

(1)what to do for new learners who continue to need the slow sessions, or if it's

(2) what to do with those who've advanced enough to move on to something else - but perhaps are still not ready to charge on at full speed. (?)

It would seem that an effective answer to both would be a "full spectrum" of groups where people can move to the next group when they've outgrown one, or a "series" organization in which each slow session group is expected to become an intermediate players' session and new slow sessions are started periodically.

I some cases it may be difficult to tell which method (if either) actually is "in play" in different places. In order to do either (or most anything else) it's probably necessary to have a "leader" (or call them an organizer or even a teacher) but sadly the "willing" are often not quite the same ones as the "able," so organization and leadership are difficult to provide "on purpose."

And sometimes "over-organizing" is worse than just "whatever happens."

"If it works - keep doing it."

John


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 28 May 12 - 03:03 PM

For what it's worth, the Lewes Favourites monthly tunes practice sessions started as a self-help group with no teachers or experts: three interested people set about hunting the dots to tunes we were hearing a lot in local sessions and wanted to learn, adjusted published versions to match what we hear locally, and then put them into computer notation, booked a pub room, and left a few home-printed fliers in local folk clubs. The sessions proved hugely popular, with people bringing tunes they were picking up, and the results being copied by what Andy Warburton memorably calls 'furtive reproduction' (office photocopiers first thing in the morning or last thing at night).

After a couple of years of this, we found our collection of tunes had grown to 180 and Andy assembled them in a book. They are also on the Lewes Saturday Folk Club website for downloading as dots and midis; anyone is welcome to use them for their own practice sessions (but not for profit, please).

Everyone pitches in and we play all tunes slowly many times over. We've all improved over the years and sometimes have to make a conscious effort not to let the speed creep up, but now people experiment with instruments new to them, or try playing an octave down, or making other sorts of experiment. New people are always coming along: some are learners, some are returners, and some are competent musicians trying to get tunes they have heard identified or nailed down.

When we started taking the practice sessions to festivals we were overwhelmed at the response. Above all, they are fun; practising is a different kind of fun from performing, but it's still fun. Even skilled players enjoy the chance to play all the notes properly with a minimum of fudging, and the knowledge that these are practice sessions means no-one needs to feel awkward about asking for a tune to be taken more slowly.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 12 - 06:38 PM

We have been running a slow session at Barnsley for a few months now.
the quality and speed has increased.
boys of blue hill
We play some waltzes which tend to be slower and also take it in turns to start a tune which allows beginners to control the pace.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 12 - 03:22 AM

John - as a participant in the sessions Mo's talking about, I think the concern is that we've got a "series" group, but only one of them! Most of the original 'beginners' have improved a lot, a few have dropped out and some more experienced players have joined, so it's now just a tunes session - a slowish one by the standards of the local diddly speed demons, but still fairly unforgiving to your actual beginner, or indeed to anyone who isn't happy to improve on the fly. (Personally I've reached a level where, if I'm not sure of a tune, playing it through four times at normal speed can actually help - I essentially try out different mistakes as we go through, & hopefully end up with fewer of them. But it takes a lot of playing even to reach that level of semi-competence.)


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 May 12 - 03:59 AM

What should we do then Phil?

Les


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 12 - 04:36 AM

Aargh... not really for me to say... I have a hard enough time getting away from the Apprentice to make singarounds these days, let alone tune sessions.

I guess the first thing to do would be to find out whether there are people who would like to come to a beginners' session, & ask them what they'd be comfortable with. Starting the night with beginners' tunes & then warming up might be a compromise solution - but it would only be worth doing if there were a few beginners in the room, obviously!


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST,Stan
Date: 29 May 12 - 04:44 AM

I would certainly be interested in a slow/beginners session. Where and what day?


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 29 May 12 - 06:50 AM

The Beech band are obviously doing something right. And still learning as they go - the ceilidh caller implied that he's nagging them to learn a slip-jig next.
The next ceilidh might be the place to find out if there is a demand for a beginners session, since you do get locals (at least 2 of them) there.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 29 May 12 - 06:59 AM

Time is the problem though. Always. But even one beginners evening might be enough impetous for one of the beginners to start their own group, building on your experience.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 12 - 07:03 AM

I take most delight in the reels myself, but each to their own.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 29 May 12 - 07:09 AM

What's wrong with taking most delight in the slip-jigs AND reels, then, Phil? :-)


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 May 12 - 10:02 AM

So the group can play the tune and everybody ends at the same time. Now you can work on:

1. Listening to each other and playing in tune. If a guitar is playing, everybody should listen to the guitar.

2. Playing with expression. (lyrical pieces)

3. Playing inegal - this is playing dance tunes as if they had words, so as to get past the machine-like tapping of 6/8 or 4/4 played with total regularity.

4. Play Q and A, where different instruments play different passages.

5. Play 'fife and drum' - one section legato, another percussive.

6. Have people share what they're working on - this encourages players to bring new music without being embarrassed that they can't play perfectly.

7. Learn unusual pieces - a piece in 3/2, say, or a Greek piece in 7/4.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 May 12 - 10:32 AM

One last thing:

We have an early-music session, and sometimes I contribute a piece that I call "dessert." This is a piece which has absolutely nothing to do with early music. It might be a folktune from Japan or a comic music-hall piece or a modern hymn in a strange time. Whatever it is, it is a total break from early music.

You could ask people to bring dessert pieces which have nothing to do with tunes or trad. Play one toward the end of every session.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 May 12 - 11:01 AM

The main group is doing fine, although those do sound like good ideas (especially the first one!). The big question is what we do with awkward newbies, particularly given that most of us were awkward newbies not that long ago.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 29 May 12 - 11:53 AM

Well, this thread wasn't just 'getting at' the Beech band, though they sparked the thought.

It was a reflection on the need of beginners for someone to give them a kickstart.

I know I've had several conversations with people listening to festival sessions, e.g. the English session in the Falcon at Bromyard. "how do we get into this?"

My start was Ollie's half hour at the start of Beverley Folk club - come early and learn tunes. Then Valmai's festival workshop. Then a family (and in-law) practise night at each other's houses. And inflicting ourselves on good-natured sessions. Isn't it great when you play Winster Gallop and everyone joins in!

BTW I agree with Rob. Slipjigs for willowstripping.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 12 - 12:17 PM

leeneia quote: "If a guitar is playing, everybody should listen to the guitar."

As someone who plays guitar - I dare you to go and post that on The Session.org site

Remember noone can physically harm anyone on the internet. Still a very brave statement though.

Not to pre-empt if you did do it but I think quite a lot of the tune players would see it rather differently (as I would too :)


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Nick
Date: 29 May 12 - 12:23 PM

Sorry last post was me. On holiday up in Arran and no cookie.

Went to a very enjoyable session/sing on Sunday afternoon outside in the sun with a nice mix of instruments (and voices) - small pipes - two guitars (keeping out of each other's way) - fiddle - harp - whistle.

Still smiling and looking forward to doing something similar again with some of the same and some different folk before we come back


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Nick
Date: 29 May 12 - 12:36 PM

Sorry a little off topic that...

In my limited experience I've tended to find people progress from where they start depending on how much they put into it and what their aspirations are.

A friend of ours (middle aged - regular demanding job etc etc) went from 'never having played the guitar or sung in public' to a regular (paid) performer in a matter of three years. he enjoyed it and he practiced a LOT because it meant a lot to him.

Similarly I know people who can still almost play the tune that they could almost play 10 years ago. A bit more fluently than before probably (it's usually prefaced by 'shhh XXXXX is going to play their tune now' and everybody claps in that curiously tolerant way that British folk do (and signals non verbally round the room of what they are really thinking).

People know when it's time to go and move on from things. The danger is perhaps when they try to change it into something that suits them rather than others because they can't be bothered to start and/or maintain something else and it's the only thing available.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Marje
Date: 30 May 12 - 06:45 AM

Mo, above, says "Isn't it great when you play Winster Gallop and everyone joins in!"

I think that's an important point, if we want to make music accessible to begninners. Some session regulars are so smart-arsed and up-themselves that if someone starts Winster Gallop they'll sit looking bored and refuse to join in, presumably because it's not challenging enough, or beneath them. Nothing is more discouraging to a newcomer than being ignored when they venture to play a tune that they've been working on.

Playing a simple tune really well, or adding a harmony if you want a challenge, should never be beneath anyone. I have to admit there are some tunes I have really heard and played far too often, but I try (mostly) to show interest and play along if someone starts them, particularly if it's a new person or a beginner. It's the only way they'll learn to integrate with the regular players.

Marje


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 May 12 - 08:44 AM

"The big question is what we do with awkward newbies,"

Make it a tradition that brand-new players should come at the beginning of the session for their own special time.

When the group is playing, watch for people doing nothing. Ask them what is wrong and try to give them what they need to get going.

I hope you're not trying to meet all these needs while learning the tunes merely by ear...


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 May 12 - 10:35 AM

We have a humungous tune-book, with tunes both single and paired. We're not snobby about tunes, either; we almost always have a go at Buttered Peas or similar early on, just to loosen up & get into playing together. (Fun fact: the original title of "Buttered Peas" - "Pwt ar y bys" - is Welsh for "Finger piece".) Waltzes are fun to play, too, even the relatively simple ones. I don't think anyone's so high-and-mighty as to sit a tune out.

We're not being besieged by awkward newbies (at least, we weren't the last few times I went); if anything our problem is the opposite, that the beginners-as-were have reached a standard where the session starts to attract competent tune players. It'll need to be played by ear, as it were.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST,Chris P
Date: 31 May 12 - 05:31 AM

Phil, perhaps "fun assertion arising from speculation on The Session.Org" rather than "fun fact" should be the expression regarding Buttered Peas, unless you can point us to some solid historical evidence. I find no mention of it here
http://tunearch.org/wiki/Buttered_Peas_%281%29


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: GUEST,Chris P
Date: 31 May 12 - 06:09 AM

Still it's an attractive theory, but would take some researching into the first occurrence of the title.
But best not hijack the thread.


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 May 12 - 06:51 AM

At Maidenhead Folk Club we are fortunate in having a few regulars who are Tune AND Song members , so we tend to have a few tunes to start things off , and also at the interval . NO problem with new people joining in if they want , and we have our monthly Tunes evening as well for those that want to do more practice , which usually has a 'Slow' period to start the evening


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 May 12 - 07:45 AM

It's a theory involving Welsh - and a Welsh phrase with four vowels three of which are either W or Y - so as far as I'm concerned if it isn't a fact it ought to be. But I take the point.

we are fortunate in having a few regulars who are Tune AND Song members , so we tend to have a few tunes to start things off , and also at the interval

So do we on song nights, although I do sometimes wish we had two intervals (one for chatting). Can't have everything!


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Subject: RE: beginner's session - then what?
From: John Routledge
Date: 31 May 12 - 08:09 AM

Bit like when you could buy a period of silence on a juke box


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