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Lubbock Irish Session FAQ

 Q:     What is an Irish session?


A:     An Irish session is an informal gathering of traditional Irish musicians with the purpose of playing music together. It is not a formal performance, but it is also not a “jam session.” 

An open Irish session welcomes players of traditional Irish music to participate. It is a musical conversation, and as such, follows traditional social etiquette:

  • Listen first. Even if you think you know a tune, it is polite to listen and enjoy someone’s playing before jumping in!

  • Don’t play/talk over each other.

  • When in doubt, wait to be asked to start a tune or a song!


Q:     I have a guitar/bodhran (Irish drum)/piano etc. (rhythmic/chordal instrument), is it ok if I join in?


A:     If you are familiar with the tunes we are playing, and observe appropriate Irish session etiquette, you will be welcomed.


            Rhythm Instrument Etiquette: 

  1. Because the rhythmic feel is what makes traditional Irish music sound “Irish” and allows it to groove just right for the dancers, it is extremely important that players be familiar and sensitive to the rhythmic feel specific to traditional Irish music.

  2. Irish music is melody based, not harmony based. This means that chordal accompaniment is often ambiguous. This makes it extremely difficult for two chordal instruments (like guitars and bouzoukis) to play with a tune at the same time because they will generally have different chordal interpretations. Because of this, we ask that one person play chords at a time.


Q:     I have a fiddle/flute/whistle/bagpipes/accordion etc. (melody instrument), is it ok if I join in?


A:     If you are familiar with the tune being played, and observe appropriate Irish 

session etiquette, you will be welcomed.


            Melody Instrument Etiquette

  • Traditional Irish music prioritizes rhythm (for dancers) and the melody over all things. Additionally, this is a music that greatly values listening! If you don’t know the tune, please stop playing and enjoy listening! 


Q:     I don’t play Irish music, but I love it! Is it ok if I come to the Irish session?


A:     Yes! Please come listen! Additionally, while the Irish session is very much a 

social event, we ask that you enjoy the company of those around you, but refrain 

from talking over the music so that it makes it possible for the musicians to be 

able to hear each other, as we are purely acoustic! Also, when someone is singing, we ask that you please hold off on conversation until they are done as singing is a special event!


Q:     I really wish I could play Irish music, can I learn to do that in the Irish session?


A:     Listening and enjoying the music is the first step to learning the music! However, learning the actual tunes doesn’t happen at the session. But you’re in luck! We are fortunate to have many opportunities to learn Irish music in Lubbock, TX. Please watch the Facebook page (a tune learning class is offered twice per year!) or inquire with any of the players of the Irish session (when they’re not playing!) and they can help you find someone to learn from.


Q:     I really wish I could learn how to dance to Irish music, is there a place to do that in Lubbock?


A:     Yes! Please watch our Facebook page for opportunities to learn the dance steps, or ask one of the dancers who often attend our Irish sessions!


Q:     Is there a list of tunes that you play so that I can go home and learn them?


A:     We do not maintain a comprehensive tune list. However, please feel free to ask “what was the name of that tune?” if you hear a tune you like!

There is a list of tunes that we like to play which can be found HERE
There are also several videos of tunes for learning which are posted to the Facebook group. 


Q:     I love what you’re doing! Is it ok to photograph/audio record/video record the Irish session?


A:     As with any situation, please be respectful of the musicians and ask before taking photos or recording them.

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