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Thread: "Noodling" at Sessions

  1. #176
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Adams View Post
    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?
    How is it a double standard? There's a difference between someone starting a tune and someone trying to learn a tune. It's fairly common at sessions I've attended for tunes to be launched into without any announcement as to what the tune is or what the tunes that follow it in the set will be - at a regular session attended by experienced players most folks will be able to hear the first few notes and know what the tune is and join in. At a slow session it may differ where the sets are announced prior to launching into them.

    Something else to consider is that if a session is held in a pub, part of the attraction is that people sitting with a pint can enjoy the music. It may be less enjoyable for them to sit and listen to a few people trying to learn a tune. Most of the "learners sessions" I've seen advertised tend to be held in upstairs function rooms at a pub or in community halls, so that folks can learn without the added pressure/distractions of members of the public surrounding them whereas the slow session/regular session would take place downstairs in the pub itself since the tunes are just being played rather than parts being repeated, pauses while people try to figure out what note is next etc., stuff that your average pub goer may not have much patience for.
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  3. #177
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    A really well explained distinction between the different sorts of gatherings that exist, Jill. Pub sessions played in front of regular or casual customers are generally very different from the workshop or slow session where tunes are being learned and practised. As you say, the folk in the pub, in for a drink and a chat, don't enjoy watching or listening to the learning process, and equally the learners do not need the distraction of an audience. As pub session players we are providing some background noise to accompany the socialising of the customers.
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  5. #178
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    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.
    Eric: I have heard you play and you are no beginner at all but an accomplished musician. I just checked your name again to make sure you are are not a doppelnamer for the Eric Platt I know. Then it occurred to me that you are perhaps playing a different instrument not mandolin. I know you mentioned that this was perhaps in a different genre. And I guess you don’t want to divulge this genre? I am still a bit perplexed. A learners session for only pro-level players is some sort of oxymoron.
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  7. #179
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Interesting point there John.
    Musicians at a pub will be playing with an almost continuous rumbling chatter in the background, a bit like the sound of a crackling fire in the hearth. Comforting, warm feelings.

    However, and this is where it comes back to noodling, sometimes all it takes is a couple of notes -random, blithely nonchalant, exploratory, chromatic, polyrhythmic notes…
    Bad notes.
    …and feelings can change quite rapidly.

  8. #180
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    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.
    If that person wasn't pulling your leg, maybe they were turned off by that session for other reasons? Maybe just not a good fit for the music? I had a friend I met in local OldTime jams, a decent fiddler who didn't like Irish music or Irish sessions because he said it was too much like Classical music, too difficult to play. Which it isn't, not by a long shot, but it was a preconception I never managed to break through.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Something else to consider is that if a session is held in a pub, part of the attraction is that people sitting with a pint can enjoy the music. It may be less enjoyable for them to sit and listen to a few people trying to learn a tune. Most of the "learners sessions" I've seen advertised tend to be held in upstairs function rooms at a pub or in community halls, so that folks can learn without the added pressure/distractions of members of the public surrounding them whereas the slow session/regular session would take place downstairs in the pub itself since the tunes are just being played rather than parts being repeated, pauses while people try to figure out what note is next etc., stuff that your average pub goer may not have much patience for.
    Exactly! One of the local sessions in my area is in a brew pub, and while we do a bit of chatting between tunes, the session leader does her best to keep us on track and the music flowing because we want to keep this venue. The owner is letting us take up valuable table and floor space for the sake of having some free live music.

    It's not the place for a stop-and-start tune learning that might annoy the patrons, or too much noodling, to bring it back to the OP. It's still much more relaxed than a band gig, but there is still the reality that we're in a public space and some people are listening to us, or at least tolerating it as background music.

    I have attended private house sessions with this same group and the vibe is different. A little more relaxed, more time spent talking between tunes, taking more chances with unfamiliar repertoire. I like both settings. I enjoy the private house sessions for a more intimate interaction with everyone, and frankly the ability to invite those you know who are musically compatible, without the randomness of a public session. And I enjoy the public sessions because I think a little bit of performance pressure is a good thing. Keeps you on your toes.

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  10. #181
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    How is it a double standard? There's a difference between someone starting a tune and someone trying to learn a tune. It's fairly common at sessions I've attended for tunes to be launched into without any announcement as to what the tune is or what the tunes that follow it in the set will be - at a regular session attended by experienced players most folks will be able to hear the first few notes and know what the tune is and join in. At a slow session it may differ where the sets are announced prior to launching into them.

    Something else to consider is that if a session is held in a pub, part of the attraction is that people sitting with a pint can enjoy the music. It may be less enjoyable for them to sit and listen to a few people trying to learn a tune. Most of the "learners sessions" I've seen advertised tend to be held in upstairs function rooms at a pub or in community halls, so that folks can learn without the added pressure/distractions of members of the public surrounding them whereas the slow session/regular session would take place downstairs in the pub itself since the tunes are just being played rather than parts being repeated, pauses while people try to figure out what note is next etc., stuff that your average pub goer may not have much patience for.
    Exactly.
    And if you want your session pub to continue hosting sessions, no better way than to provide music that keeps the good atmosphere going.
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  12. #182
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    - Is it the beginning of the Academic year, September or October?
    Sorry, Simon, the logic behind this one escapes me. Are you thinking of folks arriving for the new academic year who are unfamiliar w/ local practice? Few pub-age students would have time to dive into pub sessions (at least in, ya know, September & October), while the number of new teaching staff would be relatively small, and musicians among them far smaller.
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  13. #183
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    How is it a double standard? There's a difference between someone starting a tune and someone trying to learn a tune. It's fairly common at sessions I've attended for tunes to be launched into without any announcement as to what the tune is or what the tunes that follow it in the set will be - at a regular session attended by experienced players most folks will be able to hear the first few notes and know what the tune is and join in. At a slow session it may differ where the sets are announced prior to launching into them.
    Exactly exactly.

    It is my experience, unless otherwise stated, a jam or session is not a slow jam or learning session. And that the session may or may not be open to all levels of experience sitting in, does not change this.

    Something else to consider is that if a session is held in a pub, part of the attraction is that people sitting with a pint can enjoy the music. It may be less enjoyable for them to sit and listen to a few people trying to learn a tune. Most of the "learners sessions" I've seen advertised tend to be held in upstairs function rooms at a pub or in community halls, so that folks can learn without the added pressure/distractions of members of the public surrounding them whereas the slow session/regular session would take place downstairs in the pub itself since the tunes are just being played rather than parts being repeated, pauses while people try to figure out what note is next etc., stuff that your average pub goer may not have much patience for.
    I know of a couple of jams held regularly in restaurants, that have organized a "slow jam" for before. In one case the slow jam is in a separate room outside of the public, as described.

    In the other case the slow jam in the same location, but is before the doors open for dinner, and thus out of the public view. The slow jam has chord sheets and even some written out tunes, and take things at various tempos. Very safe and encouraging and helpful. When the doors open for dinner, the jam transitions to regular. All jammers are welcome to stay, but should know the atmosphere is full throttle.
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  15. #184
    Paul Wheeler
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    I always considered the manager's point of view: if piped-in muzak was preferable to what he was hearing from us, we were sure to be toast. When I was in an "open" session where friends of friends started showing up with (to my horror) music stands and sheet music, I knew we were toast. You have to appreciate that the venue is a business. -- Paul
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  17. #185
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Eric: I have heard you play and you are no beginner at all but an accomplished musician. I just checked your name again to make sure you are are not a doppelnamer for the Eric Platt I know. Then it occurred to me that you are perhaps playing a different instrument not mandolin. I know you mentioned that this was perhaps in a different genre. And I guess you don’t want to divulge this genre? I am still a bit perplexed. A learners session for only pro-level players is some sort of oxymoron.
    Jim, yes, back during that time, I was merely a guitar player. And just in the old-time music genre, not Irish. Although the person who said what he said did not know that.

    More to this story - this was advertised as a beginner/slow session. However, the day of the week and time seemed to actively discourage beginners. So it ended up that just the folks who were hoping to lead played by themselves instead. Hence the quote given to me. Believe that after a while they just decided to keep it at what it was. And I don't fault them for it. Sounded like a very lively session. Just not for the faint of heart. Or folks who had morning "day jobs." And yes, it was Irish music. Just trying to respectful as there are a lot of folks I know who participated in this one.

    So that is entirely on me. I did not take the warning with the proper meaning.

    Sadly, the one learner's session that's available in person usually conflicts with other things on my schedule. Would like to at least sit in and listen to that once at least one time, though. Just to see what they are playing.

  18. #186
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    Sorry, Simon, the logic behind this one escapes me. Are you thinking of folks arriving for the new academic year who are unfamiliar w/ local practice? Few pub-age students would have time to dive into pub sessions (at least in, ya know, September & October), while the number of new teaching staff would be relatively small, and musicians among them far smaller.
    The main session pubs in Aberdeen are close to the uni, and we always seem to get an infusion of new young musicians (one of these many years ago was Jarlath Henderson, who was already making a name for himself) around about Freshers' Week, (September/October) and a lot of students who just like to hang out and drink and chat in this pub where these old folk (I have to be honest, most of us are ...) are playing Scottish music.

    To many of the foreign students, it's quite exotic, and some end up getting immersed and taking up instruments.
    Bren

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  20. #187
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Jim, yes, back during that time, I was merely a guitar player. And just in the old-time music genre, not Irish. Although the person who said what he said did not know that.
    Ah, I think I get it now … not recent and guitar. I would guess that an old time guitar player would conflict with the Irish style of playing.
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  21. #188
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Noodling" at Sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Ah, I think I get it now … not recent and guitar. I would guess that an old time guitar player would conflict with the Irish style of playing.
    Definitely. Although the person who told me that didn't know that. Or even what instrument I played. And although had been listening to Irish music for a good decade, it wasn't session tunes. Would have been woefully unprepared for any session at that time.

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