This is working out pretty well! I can only play five or six tunes semi-reliably–by which I mean, I can actually play “Si Bheag Si Mhor” by heart, and about five others if I’m reading the sheet music at the time. I ALMOST have “Banish Misfortune” down by heart but the C part is still eluding me. What this tells me though is that by practicing, I CAN learn these things. And it gets noticed in session, too! Once you start showing up and being able to play the tunes, you get significantly more cred, even if you’re still pretty much a newbie like me.
Right now I’m focusing my efforts on the handy dandy PDF session leader Matt gave me, with about 25 tunes he’s fond of and considers a good introduction to sessions in general. From that, I’ve been working on “Banish Misfortune”, “Road to Lisdoonvarna”, “Morrison’s Jig”, and a bit of “Blarney Pilgrim”. Although I haven’t actively practiced them yet, I can also whip through “Kesh Jig” and “Foggy Dew” if I’m reading the PDF.
Meanwhile, I’ve got TunePal on the iPad and I spend a good chunk of session these days just listening to what the others are doing–and seeing if TunePal can figure out what the tunes are so I can save ’em for later exploration. Half the time, the app has a pretty good idea of what it’s hearing. If it wibbles and has no goddamn idea, I’ll just ask! Then I can look it up manually. And once you have a tune in the app, you can make it play it for you, adjusting the tempo if you need to. It’s a GREAT learning/reference tool for session newbies. Highly, highly recommended if you have an iPad.
Last night’s session in particular was relaxed and groovy, with just me, Dara, Matt, and a couple new folks Dara and I hadn’t met before, a woman who played fiddle and mandolin and a guy who played guitar and bodhran, and from them I picked up a couple more tunes to add to TunePal for later investigation: “The Yellow Tinker” and “The Frieze Breeches”. Plus, I had to giggle and giggle at one particular wibble TunePal had trying to identify tunes–when it offered me “Whiskey Makes You a Lunatic”. Which had NOT A GODDAMN THING to do with what was actually being played, but the title alone made me LOL, so I had to add it to my list.
And to tie back to my French Canadian fangirling post, I’ve also decided I have designs on learning “The Jig of Slurs”, “Irish Washerwoman”, and “Atholl Highlander”, which make up the “Fortierville” set that’s track one on La Volee d’Castors’ kickass live album. It’ll be approximately oh, I dunno, EIGHT YEARS before I’m able to play that set nearly as fast as they do, but TunePal helpfully provided me the sheet music to each. I’m armed. I’m dangerous. I HAVE A PICCOLO. BRING IT.