McDonnell's Traditional Irish Music Slow Session

Learn More About Slow Sessions

Our slow traditional Irish music session provides musicians an opportunity to play tunes at less than half the speed they would typically be played at up tempo sessions in Melbourne or around the world. At most Irish trad sessions the music is very loud and fast, while we try to be soft and slow to facilitate the learning process. Also, unlike many Irish Sessions, those players that need to read the music bring their music stands and music books. Ultimately, our goal is to get everyone playing the music in the aural tradition so they can join other sessions.

We limit the tunes to those on our tune list which allows us to repeat the tunes from week to week. We make an effort to play the tunes at least 3 times or more before moving on to another tune. We always sit in a circle and start the session with a standard set of easy tunes such as Fanny Power and South Wind to warm up.  Our Beginner Session which are held the 1st and 3rd Mondays concentrate on 25 standard Irish tunes and at our Intermediate Sessions we play tunes from our Session Set list.  See ‘What Session Should I Attend?‘ to learn more about the different sessions. Mark McDonnell typically starts the tunes and leads the group, but other musicians are now more confident at starting and leading the tunes.

At the intermediate sessions we are still playing relatively slowly compared to other sessions around town. The tempo is what some folks would call a syncopated Clare/Galway session pace. At these sessions we tend to play sets of tunes (ie., 2 or 3 tunes strung together) and we don’t always call out the page numbers for the sheet music. Most players in these sessions are playing by ear. These sessions are designed to help intermediate musicians play up tempo and learn new tunes so they can join other sessions around town. Everyone is invited to join us for all the sessions and we will make every effort to cater to your musical abilities. Most of the intermediate players also attend the slow sessions, and it would also be helpful for beginning players to occasionally come to the intermediate sessions to hear the music played up tempo and also join in when you can to improve your playing skill.

A number of our regulars who started playing Irish music at our sessions a few years ago have built their repertoire of tunes and increased their tempo to comfortably join other sessions around town. This is one indication of the success of our slow session format.

If you are interested in other slow sessions there are a small group of them around the world which can be located at the Slow Session Players website. All of these sessions are dedicated to passing on the music.