A variety of sessions are held every evening at our music camp after the instructor concerts that target all levels of ability and/or pace of the tunes: slow, moderate and lively. There are also specialized sessions for singers, harpists and even a “bodhran-friendly” session. We also have sessions featuring our instructors after the Instructor Concerts each evening. See our camp SCHEDULE for the times, days and locations of these sessions.
Session etiquette differs from one place to another, and because we are a music camp and not a pub or some other public venue, our sessions are designed to help students learn and play traditional Irish music. So here are our “suggestions” we ask you to follow if you attend one of the retreat scheduled sessions:
- There are assigned session leaders on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Allow them to facilitate the sessions meaning they may start tunes; they may invite players to play the tunes they know; they may caution players about speeds that are not appropriate for the session’s level, etc. The key word is “facilitate.” Session leaders guide the sessions with the goal of making everyone’s experience a good one.
- Because we are an Irish music camp, please keep the music Irish.
- Session leaders are not the only ones who can start tunes. Anyone can, but before you do, you should announce the tune names and keys and see if anyone else can play them. Do not start a tune that no one else knows. Sessions are for group playing, not soloing.
- Avoid trying to learn a tune while it is being played by others unless the session is designed for that purpose.
- If there are multiple rhythm instruments present, either agree to share the responsibilities (one plays, the other doesn’t, then switch) or position yourselves in different corners of the session so there isn’t musical conflict with each other.
- Please play on traditional folk instruments common to Irish music.
- You may bring your sheet music, tune books and music stands. We encourage learning the tunes by memory, but we understand that it’s a skill students develop over time.
- Many of you arrive as strangers, but because Irish music is such a social experience, there is a good opportunity to begin new friendships. So, be nice and play well together.
- Please clean up and straighten the rooms before you leave. In most cases, the session rooms are also classrooms. We appreciate your help!
- Sunday night sessions are not organized. Select rooms are available those nights and students are invited to form sessions on their own.
There is a song session every evening after the instructor concerts. It is open to all levels of ability and a session leader is assigned on Friday and Saturday. See SCHEDULE for the time and location of the song sessions. O’Flaherty’s is a traditional Irish music camp and it is expected that only traditional Irish (or at least Celtic) songs will be performed at the song session. The session is informal, and good manners and consideration make it fun for all participants. Pull up a chair and join the circle and follow a few guidelines:
- LISTEN to the other performers.
- Do not talk while someone else is singing.
- Performers will take turns by going around the circle
- On a performer’s turn they may pick, pass or play. Pick means requesting a song from another performer, pass means skipping their turn, and play, of course, singing a song.
- Unless invited to, do not join in on someone else’s song. They may have a different version from the one you know.
- If you are the performer and your song has a nice, singable chorus, by all means invite everyone to sing along. Or lead a sing-a-long. It’s great fun.
- You may use an instrument to accompany your song, but don’t join in on someone else’s song unless invited.
- Sing something that you know. Feel free to sing either from memory or from a book, but this is not a good place to try out a song you’ve never sung before.
- Be ready to sing when your turn comes around. There are others waiting, so don’t use up their time by looking through your book looking for something to sing or by deciding to tune your instrument.
- Feel free to give a bit of history about you song, Just not every bit of history. Rule of thumb: If the introduction is longer than the song it is probably too long.
- Thursday and Sunday night sessions are not organized. Select rooms are available those nights and students are invited to form sessions on their own.
Having Your Own Sessions
If you and a group of players want to have your own session, please feel free to do so, but avoid areas where people are sleeping nearby — the Barn, Alamo, Hacienda, dorms, etc. Also, we discourage closed sessions — it’s not what our camp is about, so please be open to others who happen to stop by. As with the other sessions, please clean up afterwards.