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 nine current  tunes on the Marin Irish Music List are here below. (click to download)


"Kingdom of Fairies"

"Merrily Kiss The Quaker"

"Out On The Ocean"


   “Cooley’s Reel”

   “Maid Behind the Bar”

   "Swallowtail Jig"


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

All future songs will be located here:


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.

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.

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.

    I know it's late in the day to be asking this: Last month I was unable to attend and would like to know which tunes were learned so I can give them a go before arriving this evening. Anyone remember? Thanks

    March 20, 2014

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