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Thread: "Noodling" at Sessions

  1. #151
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Thanks Ray(T). This is the most enthusiastic performance I’ve heard.


  2. #152
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    (Many) other recordings are avalable!

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  4. #153
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    O.K. back to Irish Music.

    You can 'play along' in the privacy of your own home with these videos made by and Shannon and Matt Heaton. They play slowly and they really understand the process of learning Irish Traditional Sessiun Music. Shannon is remarkably welcoming and supportive. (They are excellent musicians too. Flute and guitar / bouzouki.) You can play along with any instrument and at the same time feel like a member of a world wide online group; sort of like belonging to MandolinCafe.
    Highly Recommended. And at home, you can noodle all you want!

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...B03R9bE7MkGBl0

    Last edited by DougC; May-31-2022 at 10:12am.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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  6. #154
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    I remember a session in Madison Wisconsin where we had to suffer thru a whole evening of watching this piper dominating the sessiun, (he was the supposed leader of that sessiun). He played only obscure pipe tunes in order to keep us 'visiting musicians' from joining. I had my violin ready but, I was a snob too as I looked at this guy holding a nice mandolin with a frown. I thought to myself that he's a Bluegrasser and probably knows nothing about Irish Music. We never did get to play that night but we did have a few beers and a nice talk about building mandolins. So the social side of the Sessiun overcame poor attitudes. And we left that evening as good friends.
    Suddenly dawned on me that the odds are fairly good I know who that piper was. Even though (a) I've never been to a session in Madison, WI and (b) the number of people I know who can play pipes is very limited. But it sure sounds like something this person would do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    I remember a session in Madison Wisconsin where we had to suffer thru a whole evening of watching this piper dominating the sessiun, (he was the supposed leader of that sessiun). He played only obscure pipe tunes in order to keep us 'visiting musicians' from joining. I had my violin ready but, I was a snob too as I looked at this guy holding a nice mandolin with a frown. I thought to myself that he's a Bluegrasser and probably knows nothing about Irish Music. We never did get to play that night but we did have a few beers and a nice talk about building mandolins. So the social side of the Sessiun overcame poor attitudes. And we left that evening as good friends.
    Suddenly dawned on me that the odds are fairly good I know who that piper was. Even though (a) I've never been to a session in Madison, WI and (b) the number of people I know who can play pipes is very limited. But it sure sounds like something this person would do.

  7. #155
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    That piper is just an example at this point. No 'hard feelings' intended by me. At that time however was at a mandolin builders workshop and I'm sure someone here at Mandolin Cafe was the guy I had given the 'stink eye'. Ha, ha.
    (I was attending a violin makers workshop...).

    Now let's play some tunes online with the Heatons!
    They start after a few minutes of waiting for people to check in, and then, after some talking.
    Skip ahead for the tunes.

    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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  9. #156
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Noodling! Matt is noodling on the guitar at 9:43


    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    That piper is just an example at this point. No 'hard feelings' intended by me. At that time however was at a mandolin builders workshop and I'm sure someone here at Mandolin Cafe was the guy I had given the 'stink eye'. Ha, ha.
    (I was attending a violin makers workshop...).

    Now let's play some tunes online with the Heatons!
    They start after a few minutes of waiting for people to check in, and then, after some talking.
    Skip ahead for the tunes.

    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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  11. #157

    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    I've had two awful noodling experiences at our little Irish session in Wisconsin.
    The first was a local fellow who showed up with a penny whistle. We realized immediately that he didn't know a single tune! Yet he noodled every single tune anyone started. Ruined the session...

    The second was a similar situation when a guy brought one of those tiny, but very loud, banjos to the session. He sat on a stool right next to me left ear and he too, obviously, didn't know any tunes, but came to "jam and learn".

    Outrageously rude and impolite!

  12. #158
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by kickapooviking View Post
    … he didn't know any tunes, but came to "jam and learn"…
    Nice one, so he jammed… you had a nice chat with him… and he learned.

  13. #159
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    I agree with your take on the situation Simon. However we were not there, and we really don't know what happened. Nice chat? Did he say he spoke with them? To be sure if these guys came again I would move to the other side of the room. But, yea. No harm really. Life goes on.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  14. #160
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Been thinking about this thread again recently. My question now is, how long should one show up and just listen (not bring an instrument or try to play) at a learner's gathering before attempting to start? And I would have to assume it will be much longer time doing the same at a slow session before later joining. Correct?

  15. #161
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Some of the factors or parameters would be:

    Number of people already participating.
    Do these people know each other already at a social level, are they sociable?
    Are they comfortable with the verbal communication of their needs?
    Is there a high turnover of new members?
    Are they open to Ďforeignersí, do they like to share their tradition?
    Is there a clear humble leader who has precise achievable objectives and good communication?
    Do new members arrive with fixed, nonnegotiable ideas?
    Do they tend towards chaos when structures are removed? (eg. Session degeneration when leader who provides structure is absent)
    What country is the session in?
    What is their relationship to the tradition?
    What are the instruments used?
    Does your instrument match their traditional music?
    What qualities do you have? (not necessarily musical)
    Are you determined to put in the work required to keep up with the others who already formed the group and the slow session syllabus?
    Is it the beginning of the Academic year, September or October?

    Plenty of other ideas have already been mentioned, but I'm sure the best way is just to go and talk to the people at the session.

  16. #162
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    I think a better question is 'How well do you know yourself?"
    Simon has a number of very good suggestions.
    But in a practical matter for example, if you don't have 'the chops' and are not willing to put in the hard work to 'be good enough' or on the other hand you think you have plenty of skills and experience and think you can excuse any and all mistakes; then there is gonna be some problems there.
    I would bring an instrument next time and play when asked and be able to know if they want you 'in' or 'out'. Which only means that more hard work is required.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    There may be some reading all this and thinking 'this session business seems like a lot of hassle, maybe I won't bother'. For them, it must be worth saying that most sessions are welcoming, musicians appear to have a lower a**hole percentage than society at large, and there are few of us who have never gone to a session and found ourselves outclassed by the players or knowing none of the tunes. If you can play some tunes, go along and figure it out, you'll probably never meet the session police...

  18. #164
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    That’s a good point Maxr, thankfully almost everyone has a cop inside them, but full-on session police are pretty rare.
    It really depends on the behaviour of new members.
    Very few session musicians enjoy being forced into actually playing out the role of cop, but occupying sonic space, eg. over-noodling is a good way to do just that.

  19. #165
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    In our weekly pub session we have a regular core of around eight, including mandolins, fiddles, guitars, accordion, flutes and whistles and small pipes. Most of us play more than one instrument. The tunes tend to be traditional Scottish (both fiddle, accordion and pipe tunes), Irish, and a fair number from European and Canadian sources. We even have the odd song, but it is mainly an instrumental repertoire. We are all well known to each other and have played together away from the session in various combinations. Living in a small and fairly rural community folk who play instruments soon get to know who plays what and where there will be music being played which will be of interest to them. When we get someone coming along to join in we always try to make them feel at home and when they have brought an instrument we will invite them to play something of their own choice.

    It is vital to remember that when you play in an open pub session the other customers are not necessarily there to listen to you but to have a pleasant evening out with their families or friends and that we, the players, are just a sort of background sound wallpaper. A bit like all those pubs that have a television on the wall which nobody seems to be watching but which is there! It is different when the pub is putting on a special evening, as happens in our local here once a month; the landlord promotes players (singers rather than instrumentalists) who will have a much less traditional repertoire, usually popular songs which the audience can sing along to.

    Recently we had a couple of visitors sitting at a table near us who were obviously listening to the music rather than sitting chatting as other customers are generally doing. We knew they were visitors as none of us knew them. I did say we live in a fairly small community! The lady came across between tunes and asked if they might be able to sit in for a tune or two. They were here on holiday and had been told that there was a session on in the pub that they might like to come along to. She had a fiddle and her husband had one of those Melodicas that were popular some time back - made by Hohner, it has a piano keyboard and was played by blowing into it, like a flute, and using the keys to get the notes. He had his Melodica with a flexible plastic tube attached so that he could have it on the table rather than up at his mouth. Neither played our sort of tunes but they were both fine musicians and quickly got into the music. She watched our two fiddlers and he quickly got down to playing backing chords. It was just a case of telling him the key(s) of a set before we started. We asked them to play something from their own repertoires. It came out that she was a violinist with a lot of European folk music in her repertoire and he composed tunes and jingles for television programmes. A good evening was had by all.
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  21. #166
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Folks, I was exclusively speaking of the learning session. Not a regular one. Or even the slow session. The beginning learning session.

    Sounds like I am again being told not to bother, since I'm not at a pro level player of that particular style. And I will definitely honor that.

    Thanks.

  22. #167
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Folks, I was exclusively speaking of the learning session. Not a regular one. Or even the slow session. The beginning learning session.

    Sounds like I am again being told not to bother, since I'm not at a pro level player of that particular style. And I will definitely honor that.

    Thanks.
    Eric:
    I am not sure what you are referring to when you say a “learning session.” I would consider a slow session as a place to learn. It sounds like this is a particular session that you have attended and had a bad experience?
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  23. #168
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Eric, as far as our session that I was mentioning above, anyone is welcome, whatever the level. Only one of our regulars is a pro-level player, and is in fact a pro! The rest of us are a very mixed bunch of reasonable proficiency who are out for a bit of fun playing with other like-minded folk. It seems that you may, as Jim says, have experienced a very unwelcoming session somewhere. You would be very welcome to drop in and join us, though it would be a bit far for an evening, I reckon, as I see you are in St Paul MN. Our furthest regular does a forty mile round trip to join us whenever he can.

    Jim mentions the Slow Session and here in Scotland one of our best instructors, Nigel Gatherer, runs regular Slow Sessions as well as mixed workshops (which he calls Mixter Maxter). He has a website full of great material and here is a link to the Teaching section of the site: http://www.nigelgatherer.com/teaching.html
    In mid-August I attended a two-day workshop with Nigel here in Argyllshire where there were around thirty folk present, from highly competent to beginner, and with a wide range of instruments. Nigel sends out the notation beforehand as well as soundfiles and the object of the workshop is to get everyone playing at their level of comfort and the end product is to have sets and/or arrangements tried out and discussed. Everyone is encouraged to contribute with ideas. You may be lucky enough to find similar workshops somewhere near you.
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  24. #169
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Folks, I was exclusively speaking of the learning session. Not a regular one. Or even the slow session. The beginning learning session.

    Sounds like I am again being told not to bother, since I'm not at a pro level player of that particular style. And I will definitely honor that.

    Thanks.
    No one attending a "learner's session" would be at "pro" level or expected to be, far from it. I do think there's a subtle difference between "slow" sessions and "Learner's" sessions in that at the slow session the tunes are played at slower speed, but the session isn't teaching tunes, vs. a learner's session where (from what I've read about a few I've seen advertised) there would be an experienced musician acting as the session leader and they'd be teaching some tunes which the group would learn together. I saw one learner session that specifically stated that they taught tunes that were commonly played in the slow session that followed so that learners could eventually "graduate" to the slow session and obviously from there eventually move up to the regular session.

    So getting back to Eric's question, I don't think there'd be any expectation that you would need to first attend several learner's sessions without your instrument - the whole point of them is learning, no one would be expecting you to know the tunes or be a fluent player. Now if we're talking about a slow session (or regular session) then it might be an idea to attend without your instrument one or two times so as to 1) get an idea of some of the tunes being played and 2) meet some of the attendees. I don't think anyone would expect someone to know all the tunes/sets the session in question plays, but by going along just to listen you can get an idea of which tunes/sets they play that you do know and initially just play along with the tunes/sets you know and over time learn the other sets that are common to that particular session or indeed introduce new sets that could become part of that session's regular repertoire.
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  26. #170
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Another one is emotional support.

    Be aware that humans, the way they are, will give a lot more emotional support to the people who lead, play well, are pretty, good sense of humour, buy a lot of drinks, bring biscuits and cakes, positive and optimistic, attentive and considerate, married to a good musician, sober car driver, gregarious etc.

    It doesnít require a lot of effort to be valuable to a group. But it does require effort if you donít naturally enjoy giving and sharing in a group. Just trust that the group produces and share much more than all of the members as individuals.

    If you arrive as a complete beginner you will be welcomed but thatís probably it.
    As you start to give, and enjoy giving to the group (in many ways) you will be more accepted.

  27. #171
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    I have learned that there are people who abuse the kindness of others just to get attention. They have this 'hidden agenda' and only appear to be earnest. (I hope Eric is not one of these folks...)

    You only need to be a 'pro-level' player at a couple of very easy tunes like John Ryan's Polka and Jack Mitchell's Polka to be accepted in a Learners Slow Session. The rest is purely social 'give and take'.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  28. #172
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Been thinking about this thread again recently. My question now is, how long should one show up and just listen (not bring an instrument or try to play) at a learner's gathering before attempting to start? And I would have to assume it will be much longer time doing the same at a slow session before later joining. Correct?
    The simple answer is: when you can play something they play at that gathering.

    I used to bring a cassette recorder and record three or four tunes at each weekly jam, and take them home and work on them till I could play one or two. Then look forward with great excitement to the next jam, where I could lead a tune, or at least play along. I would only play along on tunes I had worked on and "got down".

    It was my approach at the time, and I am, in a way, handicapped a bit because of how I got into things.

    Years? I doubt it. I think if you are really getting after it, you cannot help but get some tunes under your belt sooner than later.

    I did continue my recording and evening woodshedding for years and years, but I don't think it took a year to be able to play along on a few tunes, which is the threshold. Ya don't have to be able to do everything, but it is best that you learn to do something.

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  30. #173
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    I’ve followed this thread from it’s beginning with some interest. I’ve played in a session in Ireland and participated in a few here in the US. I’ve also personally been chastised for ‘noodling’ at a session. By no means am I anywhere near an expert on this subject.. but we all have our observations. When myself and a couple other players were chastised, the ‘official’ session was over so we were reviewing a tune and trying to figure it out. The ‘better more seasoned player’ proceeded to begin playing another tune and apparently we were interfering? Players more familiar with all the tunes, no matter how obscure can break into tunes during a season with no verbalization as to what the tune is or what tune may follow in the medley, but those of us attempting to learn get a verbal rebuke. Seems to be a double standard to me?
    Play em like you know em!

  31. #174
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Is a minute of silence before a tune important?
    Like not eating a snack before a meal?
    Is silence part of a tune or session? Is silence, nothing, or something?

    When someone plays a beautiful piece, solo at a session and in some cultures there is an utter silence afterwards, how does that feel?
    Like something awe-inspiring has just happened?

  32. #175
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Want to thank everyone for the thoughtful responses. Yes, I have a history of not being welcomed to what was supposed to be Learner/Slow sessions. In fact, when inquiring about one many years ago in the Twin Cities, was told that "if you have 20 years of playing the music professionally, then you can join the slow session". Yes, that made quite the impression. And no, I did not believe the person telling me that was pulling my leg.

    Hopefully I will eventually take the time to join the beginner classes through Celtic Junction locally. And then maybe try to go from there.

    Thank you.

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