How To Jump Into a Traditional Irish (Jam) Session

Aaron Clegg and Elise MacGregor Ferrell

Music One 1:00-2:00

AaronandEliseBWJoining a drop-in Irish session can be intimidating.  What skills do you need?  What's the etiquette of an Irish session?  Flautist and singer Aaron Clegg and fiddler Elise MacGregor Ferrell seek to help new session players make themselves welcome at drop-in Irish sessions. Players of all skill levels can bring their traditional folk instruments and participate in this hands-on workshop. While playing traditional music together, the group will explore the best and worst ways to kick-off tune sets, choose and sing group-friendly songs, jam along with unfamiliar tunes, learn new tunes for next time, have as much fun as possible even while feeling clueless, and get invited back for the next session. The group will explore how music played at sheet music sessions sounds different from music learned and played by ear. And it will compare the customs of traditional Irish sessions with those of bluegrass, old time, and other types of jam sessions.

Aaron was 13 when he first went with his father to the weekly session at the Press Room in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and he has since participated in Irish sessions, and other types of jam sessions, all over New England, Ireland, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Elise started playing in Irish sessions within months of learning how to play the fiddle, and she progressed from there to joining various bluegrass and old time jams; currently she and Aaron help to maintain a longstanding Irish session which, over the years, has moved from the Parish Pub to Rosie McCann's Irish Pub in Santa Cruz.

Aaron and Elise first met at the Poet and Patriot session in Santa Cruz, and have since arranged sets of their favorite session tunes and traditional songs into material for their Celtic band Charmas. Samples of the band's music can be heard on and both Aaron and Elise can be reached through the website, or on Facebook at .