There is nothing quite like a good session. If you play an appropriate instrument then you will always (usually!) be very welcome to come and play in the pub (nearly always a pub!) with the other players. A good session usually has at its heart a handful of good players to keep things rolling but if you are a weaker player then it’s a good chance to come and learn and listen and join in a few tunes as you get the hang of them. See 'session etiquette' below if you are thinking of joining a session but aren't sure of what to expect.
In a session, musicians usually take turns to choose the tune or tune set, so everybody will have opportunities to choose and start tunes, if they wish to.
The person who starts playing a tune or a set of tunes is the person who sets the speed, please follow that speed, then change to another tune when the person leading the tune changes. It’s helpful to indicate when you change tunes, if you are leading a tune set. You can do this by saying Hup or Change or by looking round clearly at the other musicians.
You can join in tunes that you already know. If you don’t know the tunes that are being played, please sit and listen and then if you want to you can start to join in quietly, once you start to pick up a few notes or phrases in that tune.
The melody should stand out above other instruments, so that players can clearly hear the melody. Rhythm instruments should be sensitive regards their volume.
If you play rhythm instruments, your rhythm should complement or reflect the rhythm of the melody: the rhythm played will be different for different tunes. You might also pick out chord sequences, riffs or notes that copy or support the melody.
Stringed instruments such as guitar, bouzouki and mandolin are welcome to play the melody line.
If you play rhythm with one of these stringed instruments, it’s normal in a session only to have one, or at most two, stringed instruments playing the rhythm at any one time. This is because the different musicians will choose different chord structures and different rhythmic accompaniments, with more than one or two people doing this the sound becomes muddied.
Equally only one bodhran would usually be played at a time, for the same reasons.
Please keep your instrument in tune. Check that you use a tuner or tune to a fixed pitch instrument. Do also check your tuning throughout the evening.
If you want to photograph, video or record any part of the session, please check that people present are comfortable with that. This particularly applies to capturing images or video footage.