Session take-over - help
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Session take-over - help

GUEST,Anon 21 Sep 01 - 09:10 AM
PeteBoom 21 Sep 01 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Scabby Doug - My PC IS the CookieMonster 21 Sep 01 - 10:20 AM
Arnie 21 Sep 01 - 10:22 AM
Bat Goddess 21 Sep 01 - 10:39 AM
Fortunato 21 Sep 01 - 11:03 AM
Maryrrf 21 Sep 01 - 11:17 AM
Jon Freeman 21 Sep 01 - 11:24 AM
kendall 21 Sep 01 - 11:33 AM
Steve in Idaho 21 Sep 01 - 11:44 AM
InOBU 21 Sep 01 - 11:52 AM
breezy 21 Sep 01 - 01:06 PM
The Shambles 21 Sep 01 - 02:09 PM
Brían 21 Sep 01 - 02:54 PM
Bat Goddess 21 Sep 01 - 03:18 PM
Pelrad 21 Sep 01 - 04:09 PM
Mac Tattie 22 Sep 01 - 11:05 AM
Big Mick 22 Sep 01 - 11:35 AM
Fibula Mattock 22 Sep 01 - 12:28 PM
Jeri 22 Sep 01 - 12:38 PM
Big Mick 22 Sep 01 - 12:51 PM
Rick Fielding 23 Sep 01 - 12:36 AM
Don Firth 23 Sep 01 - 01:27 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 23 Sep 01 - 01:56 AM
Mac Tattie 23 Sep 01 - 08:46 AM
Skipjack K8 23 Sep 01 - 05:53 PM
GUEST,Anon 24 Sep 01 - 08:50 AM
Skipjack K8 24 Sep 01 - 09:02 AM
Shall 24 Sep 01 - 11:28 AM
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Subject: Session take-over - help
From: GUEST,Anon
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 09:10 AM

I wonder if anyone here has some suggestions on how to solve a dodgy situation which has arisen at our local session.

Our village session was started up and run by a group of local musicians who helped each other out in ceilidh bands. Over the last five years it has gone from strength to strength and attracted anything from 10 to 40 musicians. It is fairly open-minded in that you could find English, Irish, French and other traditions all represented in the music and people were'nt averse to singing when the spirit moved them.

Several months ago the session was given some publicity in the local newspaper and some unfamiliar faces turned up. From day one it seemed they were determined to make their mark, joining in with enthusiasm and starting tunes on their own. Fair enough. However, as the months have gone on these visitors have made the session their own in every sense. Before, everyone was encouraged to do their little bit in starting tunes, playing sets etc. Now it is almost impossible for anyone else to get a bow, key or whistle in edgeways as the visitors play almost non stop their own repertoire. They play boxes very loudly, mostly without taking into account what anyone else is doing, and they virtually never talk to anyone but themselves. They certainly don't listen to anyone else – they even start tunes when one is already well in progress.

They seem entirely intent on listening to themselves and making us listen to them. Unfortunately, they are not particularly good musicians – when they make a mistake, they will go back and do that bit again, regardless of where other people are in the tune.

What is worse, its being reported that they have been making snide remarks about some of the other sessioners, particularly the women. The result of all this is that a lot of erstwhile regulars have given up attending altogether. Most people have remarked at some stage how disaffected they are becoming with it and it looks like we are in serious danger of losing the heart of the session. What is worse is that they have found out about another session locally and have started attending that – it looks as if we have no escape.

We don't want to be a clique, we want to be friendly and encouraging, but this feels too much like a takeover for comfort. None of us want to have a confrontation or any kind of nastiness – but what on earth do we do?

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: PeteBoom
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 09:19 AM

One tactic I've found works well is to "make the rounds" - that is: One person starts the first tune/song/whatever, the go clockwise (or anti-clockwise, no matter) - if you've no tune in your head, pass to the next fellow or ask someone for a request (eg., "Mick, give us a round of..."). This works pretty well when there is a large number of players. Contact the old regulars in advance and bounce the idea off of them - then "suggest" it at the next meeting. Folks that don't want to SHARE will be opposed to it and put them on the spot for being the arses the are. Make them feel uncomfortable enough and they'll go away. Hate needing to do the politics thing BUT sometimes it is needed.



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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: GUEST,Scabby Doug - My PC IS the CookieMonster
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 10:20 AM

If your session has got by adequately til now without an apparent leader, you may be reluctant to elect yourself..

however, you or some collection of the people who have concerns about the way it's heading have 3 choices:
1) move somewhere else
2) Put up with the way it's going
3) Take ownership back again.

I think that PeteBoom's suggestion is the best way to handle it, if you decide to fight it...


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Arnie
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 10:22 AM

If all else fails, try moving your folk night to a different night of the week - tell your mates but not this lot who are spoiling the evening. When they get fed up of playing only to themselves, they will probably shove off somewhere else, then you move back to the original evening! This will no doubt require the co-operation of the landlord/lady but will be worth it in the long run. They sound like a right thick-skinned bunch and are obviously not open to subtle hints! Good luck.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 10:39 AM

Curmudgeon here. I do sympathise with Anon's plight, having been running a trad session for over seventeen years. Similarly, when the local public television station did a short feature on the session, the numbers swelled. Fortunately, the newcomers, most of them now regulars, brought a lot of fine music and good attitudes with them.

Our problem is that from time to time, the instrumentalists have a tendency to dominate the music; however, since many of them are also fine singers, it is not an overly great concern, usually. I really try to balance out the songs and tunes although I personally lean toward the singing.

Our session is not an open one, nor yet is it closed. Newcomers are welcomed and given an opportunity to sing or play. If they're good, they're encouraged; if potentially good, they're given help and advice; if they're truly awful, they're politely ignored.

One distinct advantage that you do not seem to have is actual leadership. Our session is actually my gig. I started it solo, then was joined by a couple of friends, and it grew from there. i rarely have to "pull rank," but can if necessary,. ie. the buffoon who tried to introduce a snare drum to acompany a ballad.

Pete has some very good suggestions. I might add one or two more. First, get a few of the old timers together and conspire to take back the session. Plan to come a bit earlier so as to stake out the territory and start he session your way. Speak up to the rude ones, "Hold the tune please, so&so has a song." Bring in a "ringer," a singer or instrumentalist to whom you can politely defer when the upstarts are getting too intense.

I hope this has been of some assistance. If I had more particulars such as the nature of the place where you play and a better idea of the music, I might come up with some other ideas.

Don't give up.

Curmudgeonly yours, Tom

BTW -- Does anyone have any ideas on how to politely yet effectivly stop musicians from "noodling?"

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Fortunato
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 11:03 AM

Try this:

"SSSSHHHHUSH, we're playing a song over here."

"Excuse me, you're out of turn, we're going round the circle here."

I"d like to add some vulgar adjectives and adverbs in these, but one doesn't want to answer boorishness with boorishness. (At least not at first).


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Maryrrf
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 11:17 AM

What is "noodling"?

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 11:24 AM

All sorts of names Maryrrf. Try this post for some idea.


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: kendall
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 11:33 AM

That is one thing that will really get my dander up. These noodlers seem to think they are the only ones in the room. One thing that sometimes works is to ask, "Do you have a tune to play"? A few weekends ago I found myself in a group who were talking. One guy, apparently with nothing worthwhile to say, starts noodling on a banjo. He played the same tune a dozen times, making exactly the same mistakes every time. I was at someones elses' campsite, so, I left. It's incredible how stupid some people can be.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 11:44 AM

I generally go a time or two to see if what I play mixes well with what others are doing. If not and I enjoy the music I become a listener for the evening. I don't go back if the above has occurred. But I am also someone who does not enjoy playing to a crowd. 5-6 pickers in my, or a friends, living room works for me. Invitation only and those who are regulars know to ask about bringing a friend. We have a small pot luck at the same time.

We are also very good about allowing beginners into the sessions. We all started somewhere with an experienced person standing behind us calling out the chord changes of a song we were trying to keep up with.

I have, however, seen my Brother take a person's guitar, put it in its case, and escort the person to their car with the words "Don't come back." This was at a session at my home - pretty nice when company feels like family - well he is family.

Best of luck and let your own personna dictate the course of action you take.
Peace - Steve

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: InOBU
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 11:52 AM

Get a big whip round up to bribe the gaffer to put washing up liquid in their beer. Good luck... Larry

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: breezy
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 01:06 PM

you've been a success now go and do it sme night somewhere else.Another idea is to ''pass the spoon'' the person holding it leads then passes it on to the next person if some one doesn't wish to lead they simply pass it on . good luck. Everyone who attends our sing sess puts £1 in the pot, we've enough in the kitty so we've started up a separate folk club with guests. If that works we'll be putting on concerts next.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 02:09 PM

Another take on 'noodling'?

Recently I attended a session over two days at a small festival. It was a pretty open affair. All styles of music were being played. There was only songs from two people, who were there together. The majority of the rest were tune players.

Almost every time a set of tunes were finished, one or other of them would start up a song that they were obviously used to singing together.

First the players would wait patiently for the song to finish. However as time went on and the songs from the two singers continued, a few people, rather than just wait, started to 'noodle' or actually to play the tune being sung, quite well.

In the end the two singers found that they were struggling to make themselves heard over the rest of the session playing the songs that they started.

I don't think this was done on purpose, but it would not have happened at all, if the two singers had accepted the situation, rather than fighting it insist on turning the players into an audience.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Brían
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 02:54 PM

I think there have been some real good suggestions here. The point about the importance of leadership cannot be stressed enough. Just because it's a "folk" session doesn't mean it just "happens". Craic takes planning, a lot of rehearsing and a little group facilitation to look "unrehearsed". Some of the best sessions I've been to were where people took time to draw that shy person in the corner out to start a tune or a song.

The Irish seissiún I play in is more or less "run" by a group of musicians hired by the bar. They choose sets of tunes, plenty of common tunes and some uncommon tunes. They leave room for visitors to start their own set or encourage a song. They don't hesitate to SHHHHUUUSH someone talking or playing through someone elses song or set. I have been poked with a bow more than once for being off-key or tempo. I don't take it to heart because I know these folks well and I know myself when they are right.

The singing circle I go to goes round-robin which I find a little tedious, but the group seems to agree with. As these folks are practically family to me, I go along with it.

Both models seem to work well. People come back again and again to both sessions. I don't hear any more than the usual amount of grumblings that are likely to be found in any loosely knit group of the creatures known as human beings.
It wouldn't be out of line to shush these bores. They're already doing it to you.


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 03:18 PM

The "noodlers" in our session aren't even trying to start a tune -- they're just plunking, not even using it as a "parking space" until they figure out what they want to do. It interferes with a singer trying to get a note (who doesn't have my advantage of having Curmudgeon give me a note on the concertina for a capella, or play an intro) or an instrumentalist to wrap his/her brain around the tune they wish to begin.

The worst culprit(s) missed last Friday's session, and it just made it so obvious how pleasant the session can be when there's no noodling.

Bat Goddess

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Pelrad
Date: 21 Sep 01 - 04:09 PM

That kind of noodler isn't even aware of his or her fingers. My father does that; he'll be having a conversation with someone and his fingers are moving on that guitar the entire time. In a room full of musicians all moving their unconscious fingers it must be cacaphony. Maybe you could take the Nuns' approach and walk around with a ruler, rapping knuckles. ;-)

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Mac Tattie
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 11:05 AM

Having read the opening post to this thread several times I recon this is a spoof. What next? complaints that someone else, sang your song/played your tune/sat in your chair/came to your session/stole your sweeties/burst your ball/breathed your air. Come on grow up. cheers.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 11:35 AM

No, Mac Tattie, you are the one that needs to grow up. These are real problems, and some very good suggestions were made. I reckon from your post that you are probably one of the rude wankers that pull this shit. Grab yourself a Coke, sit in the corner, shut yer gob, and smile. Now, back to the issue at hand.

I think it is incumbent, when attending a session for the first time, for one to just take some time and get the lay of the land. I am afraid that I didn't do this on my first visit to The Press Room, and found myself being inconsiderate of the players. Everyone is so happy to meet for the first time 3D, that we forget our manners. Tom runs a very tolerant session.

My opinion on your problem is that you need to either determine to take it back, quit, or move. I would talk it over with the publican, and express your concerns in a non combative, but firm, way. In other words, I wouldn't threaten to leave if it doesn't change, but I would make it clear that this is destroying a long running session. If s/he doesn't get involved, I would just start a new one on another night, or in another place. Let the gobshites have it.


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Fibula Mattock
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 12:28 PM

er, Mick, I'm afraid I thought it was a critique on Mudcat too. The "other traditions all represented", the "unfamiliar faces", the "regardless of other people", the "snide remarks about other sessioners...especially the women" (remembering the nastiness that went on a few weeks ago), the "regulars have given up attending".
It sounds like the other threads that have started like this before as a thinly disguised allegory of the Mudcat forum. If it's genuine then I apologise for completely misreading the anonymous guest's intentions. If not, well I'm too weary of such topics to bother with it.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 12:38 PM

Fibula, you're right it's been done before - both the allegory and the complaints about a real session. In both cases, it comes down to nothing more than manners.

Mick, my friend, I love you dearly but you are FULL OF SHIT! Being inconsiderate?! We (I) nagged you to sing and you did. You may have not been sure of "the lay of the land," but you fit right into it! And please excuse me, but I seem to have used up my quota of exclamation points. Ask me about "Wrong Friday" Finn at some point, eh?

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 12:51 PM

Not the point. Macbaby decided to chastise people who were utilizing the second best option on trolling, which is to hijack it and turn it legit. This is a legitimate discussion of a common problem.

I can't wait to hear about old wrong Friday Finn.........and to see Jeri. I think I am going to get there at a decent hour this time.....


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 12:36 AM

Anon. I gotta tell ya that after making my living in folk music for 32 years, I've seen this situation literally hundreds of times, and in plain (or Catspaw) English, the session is fucked!

One rude person in a group of twenty people will put the other nineteen on edge. They will NEVER again be as comfortable or trusting as before.

Two rude people in the same group will make it almost impossible for the really committed members to keep their enthusiasm.

Once you get three or more rude people (no matter how large the group) the gates will swing wide and more will flock in. The quality (and especially the camraderie) will vanish. It will be fragmented and very little of the original 'feel' will remain.

That's when you start a "new" session, and hope for a few months or a few years of fun.

It ain't a tragedy, it's simply human nature.


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 01:27 AM

Maybe a direct approach right from the start? Seattle Song Circle goes around in a circle and each person gets a chance to sing, pass, or request something from someone else (I haven't been for awhile, but that's the way they did it when I was going regularly, and I presume it's still the same). Young woman shows up at an SSC meeting and apparently doesn't get the drill. She was early in the circle and followed her first song with another, then another. Actually, she was very good. But that wasn't the point. As she started the guitar intro to her fourth song, the person next to her reached out, dampened the strings of her guitar, and said softly, "I'm sorry. But this is a song circle. It's Mary's turn next." The young woman's eyebrows went up and she apologized profusely. From then on, no problem.

Years ago (early Sixties) a bluegrass group started showing up at hoots in private homes (which were open-invitation). Once they arrived, they started in, one number after another, non-stop. Anybody who did anything other than bluegrass didn't have a chance. Finally, as the group arrived one evening, the host met them at the door, took the apparent leader of the group aside, and told him that they were welcome in his house provided they took a break between numbers and give other people a chance. Well, they left and never came back. Too bad (maybe), but it solved the problem.

If you don't slip a clue the usurpers or disrupters early on, it's probably too late.

Don Firth

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 01:56 AM

Since I joined Mudcat (about 6 months ago), I have visited loads of sessions witch were out of town.I have seen a few problems at some of them, but I can honestly say that I have never seen any problems in sesions in Hull, I have been going to folk sessions in Hull for the last few years, I was in a session once when a man started playing rock & roll at what was supposed to be a folk session, a few people walked out and the pub concerned has just been taken over by a folkie and is getting better all the time. Anyone who can should visit a session in Hull, there is a session going on somewhere in the city every day of the week.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Mac Tattie
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 08:46 AM


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 05:53 PM

Tats, it's your turn ............................. now. Quick, before someone else starts. Sorry you had to shout. Even if it is a spoof, it's a story most of us identify with. I suspect anyone trying to save their session would use this platform to name names, or at least places, and Anon may well guage opinion here and do same. Shoite, I'm probably one of the box players!


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: GUEST,Anon
Date: 24 Sep 01 - 08:50 AM

No I am not a troll – this post was not an allegory for the forum. I will not post where this session is as that will possibly spark the confrontation/nastiness I have sought to avoid by asking you people for your thoughts whilst naming no names.

Yes, the taking in turns would solve the problem, however, the 'pitch and throw' format was there precisely because we wanted it to be more inclusive of everyone rather than it look as if it was run by the chosen few.

Rick, I think you are right and that is probably what I already knew but was hoping there was another solution.

Thanks everyone for your help.

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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 24 Sep 01 - 09:02 AM

Sorry, Anon. I respect your wanting to avoid the kind of spat that unfolded here recently.

To make a positive suggestion, how about having an invitation only session with the old guard on a different night of the week. Like Rick says, you may have a few months or years before the character changes for the worse. When the wreckers find out about the new session, it should be pretty plain that you didn't want to take them with you.


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Subject: RE: Session take-over - help
From: Shall
Date: 24 Sep 01 - 11:28 AM

I have been involved with many local music gatherings through out the years. I find that sometimes folks don't know what is expected or what the rules are. Better yet they don't have the sense of respect to sit back and watch the group to see if there is a format. They are so excited to play out with others that they eagerly blast off.Many have never played in a group setting, which we all know is different from pickin all alone on the porch. Some of the folks have had bigger ego's than talent and don't care about anyone but themselves. Some have been desperate, depressed and looking for a way to connect with positive energy.....the list goes on.

I don't make the assumption that every one knows how to play in our group setting. Bit it is clear to me that the majority that show up for music gatherings are looking for an outlet and an opportunity to share their music in a friendly setting.

In our group we do things "Southern Style". Several of us share the responsiblity of keeping things in a loose format.We make no assumptions!We have found that being polite, supportive and informative works, spelling out the format for the evening of music when a new person arrives."Tune it or die" gets the point across so that everyone tunes their instrument, and the regular comment "close enough for folk" is the point where we pass a tuner to the offender with a smile on our face.

When a new person comes in, we take a few minutes to greet and introduce ourselves, encouraging new comers to tell us a little bit about themselves,where they feel their musical level is at, what type of music are they interested in playing, or if they like to sing. Then we explain the round robin format that we use, which gives everyone an opportunity to choose a tune or pass.We direct the noodling,by saying excuse me we are playing this tune next, or your turn will be coming around soon, so be prepared to pick a tune.

We try to keep the music moving, and yet take time out to break so that we can "visit" as a group. If we wish to have a real conversation with someone, we get up and go outdoors or to another part of the building. We encourage tune sharing, someone may play their favorite tune that no one knows, that's fine. If they want us to play it with them next time, it is their responsiblity to bring in a recording or the music. If the timing is off, someone taps the beat out with their foot, if someone is rushing the tune, we lean closer to the person so the can hear what is really going on. We deal with negative people and energy by making "polite" fun of the situation not the person.We do not wish to offend or exclude anyone. Our group is open to the public, located in a public place (a train station) supported by the city.We have had people passing through on their travels, weary and looking sad, sit down and slowly start smiling. Others have come with their own musical objective of doing their thing and have left when it didn't work out they way they wanted. We realize that our approach to managing a music group is not for everyone and if they don't care for our "style". That's fine, they can start their own group. As a result, we have built friendsips, we have all learned some great tunes, we have become better players and we have been able to keep a motivated and positive musical expereince going on for well over two years.

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