What is a session?
In the tradition of Irish music, a session is an informal gathering of musicians who meet to share tunes, songs and stories. They are an important part of the experience of playing Irish music. Sessions are where you will find the motivation to improve your skills and learn new tunes.
A session can happen anywhere: in someone's kitchen, in a community center, or more commonly in an Irish pub. There are different types of session for different levels of musicians. Listeners are always welcome to sit and enjoy the music, while being respectful of the musicians.
Here are a few guidelines to help you make the best of your experience in a session.
- Ask permission: if you don't know the group, introduce yourself and ask to join in.
- Get comfortable: sit in a small so that everyone can see and hear the other musicians.
- Listen well: hear the tunes and try to play in accord with the group.
- Play in tune: tune your instument well, and tune it often.
- Follow the leader: start and cease playing each tune together as one.
- Concentrate: if you make a mistake, reenter the tune when you can and keep playing.
- Respect the beat: try not to speed up or slow down when playing a tune.
- Respect other musicians: play tunes that others know and don't start noodling-off on a tune that you do not know.
- Take notes: if you don't know the tune, ask about the name and record it (if everyone agrees).
- Share: guitars and bodhrán players should take turns accompanying the melody players.
You can start your journey by learning some common session tunes.
Another great source of tunes is the Montreal Session Tunebook.
The Siamsa Session - Monday nights at Hurley's Pub!
Siamsa organizes a session for students and friends every Monday night at Hurley's Irish Pub, from 8 until 11pm.
The session is open to players of all levels, so tell your friends and join in the craic!
You can find out more on the Siamsa Facebook page.
Hurley's Irish Pub
1225 Crescent St, Montreal
Slow Session - Saturday Afternoons
While some of us have been playing for years, there are often people who have only been playing a few months. Don't worry about starting off a tune slowly, or playing one that you might not be able to play all the way through. There is always someone who will join in to help you out.
The slow session is held from 2 to 5pm on Saturdays at Saint-Houblon microbrewery.
You can find out more on the Montreal Slow Session Facebook group.
Other Sessions in Montreal
- Mondays: 9pm, Quebec trad music at L'Escalier, 552 Sainte-Catherine St East
- Wednesdays: 8pm, The Hot Session at Patrick's Pub, 1707 Saint-Denis St
- Sundays: 2pm, Irish tunes at McKibbin's Pub, 1426 Bishop St
- Sundays: 6pm, Irish tunes at McKibbin's Pub, 3515 Saint-Laurent Blvd