Irish Slow Session Learning Circle

Irish Slow Session

and Learning Circle


What is it? A leaning circle (or Ceoltais) is a traditional style of learning tunes. It offers the new person to Irish music the chance to hear tunes played in the style, learn them without concern about making mistakes, and develop his or her ear. In a Ceoltais, unlike a regular session, all players are encouraged to play every tune no matter the tempo, feel free to make mistakes, ask questions, and experiment at trying to find the pitches and rhythms. Yes, “dots” (sheet music) are allowed, but the ultimate goal is to pick up new tunes by ear and perform by ear.

How does a "Slow Session" work?
Generally, we start with reviewing tunes slowly, learning a new tune and ending with a slow session. The slow session gives everyone the practice of leading a known tune and having everyone join in and play by ear. Amazingly, there are always a couple of folks who know a tune or two even at the first gathering. Normally, we’ll go though one new tune at each gathering, but at the first one, we’ll start learning two from the list. The first two tunes on the Marin Irish Music List are “Cooley’s Reel” and “Maid Behind the Bar”.
Familiarity with your instrument will pay off. Traditional Irish instruments are encouraged. Violins, Flutes, Whistles, but today one sees many instruments playing Irish tunes such as 6- and 4-string guitars, resonator guitars, mandolins, octave mandolins, bouzaukis, cellos, ukes, and tenor banjos. So dig that dusty instrument out of the closet, have Randy at The Strum Shop  set it up for you, and come to the gathering.

Music for the session will be found on "FILES" page above. (located under the "More" tab...)

Future songs will be located here:

(http://www.marinirishmusic.com/2008_2009_playlist.htm)

We will use this source for our music or “dots” so everyone has the same version of the tune. You’ll be able to print your copy from the site. Also, the list often has MIDI files of the tunes and YouTube links.


Phyllis Grant will lead the session.

We are EXTREMLY lucky to have Phyllis to lead us on this musical journey. She has played with the Auburn Irish Session since its inception 11 years ago. Currently, they play every Sunday night at Lou La Bonte’s in Auburn. She has performed with Peter Grant, Kelly Fleming, and Lisa Stine at the KVMR Celtic Festival; Paddy Keenan & Peter Grant at Jack Russell’s Brewery; and other venues throughout California and Ireland. She has led sessions at Lark of the Morning Camp and the KVMR Celtic session. Since August 2012, Phyllis has led the Auburn Irish Slow Session and Learning Circle. She teaches classical, improvisational, and Irish styles of flute and whistle privately.

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  • D G.

    The method of teaching a tune by ear was good: Listen to a bit of the tune, sing it, play it, repeat it, put it together with other bits. I had to deduct on Star be cause it was hard to hear the leader because some students were in their own little worlds plunking on their instruments while the leader was talking and demonstrating the next part. It is an innocent error and easy to forget we are in a group instead of at home alone. Hopefully the plunkers will realize their plunking is a distraction or the leader will address it.

    June 22, 2013

  • D G.

    I liked it. Memorizing little pieces of a song is not hard, but trying to put all the little pieces together at the end is not easy for me to remember. I am so glad we repeated as much as we did.

    1 · June 21, 2013

  • Sue

    Forgot the stars! Gotta have stars!

    June 21, 2013

  • Sue

    I loved the learning techniques and the singing the tune a few times to become familiar with it and internalize it. I found it to be quite a challenge to try and learn the tune in one sitting and started getting lost or not able to remember it about halfway through. No reflection on our fearless leaders, it just takes me a bit longer to get it under my fingers and the tune embedded in my head I guess. Sure gave me some great practice techniques! Thank you so much! I really appreciate an environment that encourages learning and it was positive encouragement without fear of making mistakes.

    June 21, 2013

  • Sue Owens W.

    The session was a bit too slow for me. I found it boring repeating the same song over and over. I thought it was going to be just ukes or I would have brought along my bodhrain, too. It would have been nice to have learned the words to the song, instead of just singing la, la, la. Also, the screen w/music kept cutting out, so I got lost. I did like hearing the songs played by the teachers and thought the Irish music "circle" was great.

    June 21, 2013

    • Mari M.

      It was alot of work but may get fun with alot of practice! Went fast for me. Learning to read music and learn a song at the same time! Not sure how one could find the notes without the music, as our leader was encouraging. And yes, the words would make a big difference in learning the tunes!

      1 · June 21, 2013

  • Stu H.

    So much fun, but a lot of work! Gonna be great, now I gotta go practice, practice, practice!

    1 · June 21, 2013

  • Lenore S.

    I'm going to try to make it. Can't promise.

    June 19, 2013

  • Cariel

    It sounds so cool but I will be at work :(

    June 19, 2013

  • D G.

    1 fiddle and 1 guitar. Excited to come to this.

    June 12, 2013

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