In this series, we'll look at the process of starting to play an instrument in the traditional Irish style that you'll find in seisiúns around world.
This guide is written from a beginner's perspective, by a beginner, and doesn't cover in-depth topics for each instrument. If you've got additional things you think a starting player should consider, let us know in the comments below.
Step four: Communities and resources
By now, you’ve chosen an instrument, started learning, and taken a bash at some of your first tunes. Congratulations! The questions you’ll have from here on out will be specific to your instrument or particular tunes.
To help you on your way, we’ve collected some online resources you may find helpful on your trad adventure.
Your first session can be daunting. Should you ask to play? Should you be loud or quiet? Are people going to be friendly? Christopher from trad band Blackthorn Folly wrote this fantastic guide to session etiquette, which should answer any questions the beginning musician has.
Finding a session:
The Session is a fantastic website, and one of the services they run is maintaining a database of, well, sessions. When you visit the database, watch out for a little bar on your internet browser asking for your location. Once you agree, it’ll show you nearby sessions. Or you can simply search as normal.
They also have an events section for festivals and occasions.
Again, The Session has an excellent tune database, written in simple ABC notation, so there’s no need to be able to read music. They also have MIDI music files so you can hear what the tune sounds like.
Irish Traditional Music Archive
The ITMA was launched in 1991, and keeps a catalogue of Irish music and associated documents. It’s a reference catalogue more than anything else - but very useful if you’re trying to track down a very specific record.
Forums and message boards:
Boards.ie is Ireland’s largest forum site, and the Trad board is reasonably active, with new posts every day or two. It’s mainly Ireland-based, but take a look around if you’re abroad: there’s a wealth of information in there.
Chiff and Fipple is the ultimate tin whistle forum. The enthusiasts there can answer any question, but it’s not for the faint of heart: these guys are serious whistle enthusiasts!