Monday, September 10, 2012

Laccaroe Midi File

Hi! I put together a little midi file of the Laccaroe reel. It's easy and fun!

See you Wednesday!


Slow Session Resumes Wed. Sept. 12, 2012

Hi, Guys! I can hear the rumblings - you're all psyched for the music and working away. I'm behind from where I wanted to be in terms of figuring out this semester's tunes.

In the meantime, our new set of tunes will not be new to some of you: Christy Barry's 1 and 2. They are two great jigs that Aaron and Sam passed along to us from Tom Wadsworth. The .PDFs are up for download, but I don't have sound files. Also, I'm selecting the Laccaroe Reel for this month. It is easy and fun. That pdf is up as well, but I don't have a sound file for that one at the moment either.

I have a huge list of tunes from some of us who took classes at Irish Arts Week, and I'm so inspired! Can't wait to see you all on Wednesday. Remember, 7:30-9:00 PM at Old Songs Community Arts Center, 37 South Main Ave., Voorheesville. $3 for heat/lights/photocopies!

All the Best,


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Irish Music Concert on Aug. 21, 2012

I'm so excited to welcome Paddy O'Brien and Pat Broaders to the Old Songs Community Arts Center on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. Paddy has just received the coveted TG4 Irish Traditional Composer Award for 2012, and released his second collection of 500 Irish traditional tunes, The Paddy O'Brien Tune Collection - Volume Two. Pat is an accomplished touring musician, a member of Chicago Irish trad power trio Bohola, and touring whistle player/uilleann piper for Norwegian trad band Secret Garden. He is also acknowledged as an excellent and compelling singer and arranger.

Tuesday evening at Old Songs is sure to be the hit of the summer. Come hear these mid-western transplants play music from their home country with a magic only they can bring.

7:30 PM | $15 @ door,  518-756-8273 reservations, for direx/info
[Click on the image below to print and share a poster!]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Slow Session Resumes August 8

Hi Gang! I hope your summer is going fabulously!!!

I'm not quite ready with the curriculum for the fall, but I'd like us to get together next week and play our spring tunes over one more time just to get them back under our fingers! Amy Schoch and I are working on putting together a combination of tunes from Arts Week and tunes from Comhaltas and local sessions to add to our repertoire at Slow Session. We'll have those pulled together and up by the end of August. If you have tunes/tune names you'd like us to consider from your class at Irish Arts Week or from your teacher/private lessons, send them to Amy at in the next week and we'll add them to our list!

I hope you can make it! Wednesday, August 8, 2012 from 7:30-9:00 PM. $3 to cover air conditioning and lights!

In addition, I have two events I'd like you to know about:

On Monday, August 13, guitarist/singer Ryan McGiver and uilleann piper/whistle player Cillian Vallely are performing a concert at the Ale House in Troy. The charge is $15, and I'm still waiting to hear what the starting time is. I intend to go and have dinner and listen to the concert. I hope you'll join me! Cillian and Ryan performed a "house concert" at Jose Malone's last fall, and it was an outstanding show. Hope you'll put it on your calendar. Tickets are available at the door on the evening of the event.

On Tuesday, August 21, button box player and folklorist/collector Paddy O'Brien and bouzouki player and uilleann piper Pat Broaders will be performing a "house concert" at the Old Songs Community Arts Center. Co-sponsored by the Albany CCE Sean O'Raida Branch and ClareDay Media, the concert will feature many of the over 1000 tunes that Paddy O'Brien has collected and documented in his two books of tunes and folklore. The concert will be at 7:30 PM and tickets are $20. You can make a reservation through Hilary at 518-756-8273 or at, and tickets will be available at the door.

Hope to see you soon,


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No Slow Session in July 2012

Hiya, Friends! We'll start up with some new sets of tunes and new repertoire next month. Many of us are headed off to Irish Arts Week next week. Why not send me your wish list of tunes you want to learn/work on?

I've got some picked out already, but I'd love to fill up the list. Remember to keep practicing your tunes from the spring, as well.

I hope you're having a great summer so far!

All the Best,


Monday, June 11, 2012

June Session This Wednesday!

Hi, gang! It's that time again! looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday at Old Songs for our Slow Session...

7:30-9:00 PM

Bring snacks to share. Practice your session sets - we're going around the table picking out sets from our list, so get ready! No new tunes this time, just a session-style review...

See you on Wednesday!

Here's a reminder of our session sets:

Jigs: Paddy's Resource/Pipe on the Hob /The Blooming Meadow [Download MP3 - 1 MB ]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Looking Forward

This message from three of our slow session members who are makin' it happen!

Celtic Hall "Medium" Session. - this is a new session which hopefully will encourage people who don't have a large repertoire of tunes, and maybe not up to regular session tempos to come out and play some music.  We would like to use material from the Old Songs and Comhaltas slow sessions, along with the usual "session standards", and have it in an environment where people can be comfortable with making mistakes and not being familiar with all the tunes.  
The first meeting is scheduled for Sunday April 29 2:00 to 4:00 at Celtic Hall, 430 New Karner Road, Albany, NY.  Its about a 1/4 mile north of the intersection of Routes 5 and 155 on the west side of New Karner.  The main entrance is on the south side of the building.  The next meeting will be May 13th. 
We will try to run this as a typical session, and everyone will have the opportunity to select a set of 1 to 3 tunes to play.  Each tune would have 3 repeats. (it's a good idea to have sets picked out ahead of time to avoid the usual mental block of being put on the spot).  People are encouraged to play without music as much as possible - don't worry about mistakes, that's how we learn.
This session will be open to all levels.  Experienced players are welcome to participate and offer support, comments etc. 
If you have questions or comments, please contact Joe Leathem: email jfleathem at
Hosts: Joe Leathem, Uillean Pipes, Whistles
           Amy Schoch, Fiddle
           Paul Derby, Bouzouki

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fantastic April Session!

This month's session was absolutely incredible! We had fourteen players including me, and we sounded really great! Nice job, guys! This month we played through the Merry Blacksmith set, Garrett Barry's set, Hardiman the Fiddler set, Rose in the Heather set, Kid on the Mountain, The Friendly Visit, Madame Bonaparte, and this month's new session set: Willie Coleman's/Tripping up Stairs/Out on the Ocean.

We took bits of Madame Bonaparte and practiced them before we started the tune. Remember there are lots of arpeggios in that tune and it can help to focus you in the tune if you take the difficult or strange bits of the tune and play them slowly a few times to get them "under your fingers" and in your mind.

Melody players who have some comfort level with their instruments, but are looking to work on tunes at a slow to moderate pace are invited to join us every second Wednesday at the Old Songs Community Arts Center for a chance to play sets of tunes at a moderate pace and single learning tunes at a slow pace.

Each month we add a new set of three session tunes that we play through three or four times each. We also add a new learning tune each month so that folks continue to build repertoire but don't get overwhelmed by a constantly changing list!

So, if you're new and you want to join us, the first assignment is easy!
1. Go to the "Slow Session Tunes (Current)" page (see the link to the right on this page?)
2. Print out the PDFs of the tunes (keep them in order of the sets and it will be easier to find them during the slow session)
3. Download and listen to the MP3s of the tunes so you hear how they sound
4. Practice the tunes
5. Come to Slow Session!

Thanks for another great evening, everyone! See you soon...


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tunes are up!

Hey, guys! So sorry it took me so long to do this. Things have been super busy! Anyway - I'm planning to see you tomorrow night at the slow session from 7:30-9:00 PM. Remember, cost is $3 donation to Old Songs to help maintain this wonderful resource!

Tomorrow's new Jig Session Set will be: Willie Coleman's Jig/Tripping up Stairs/Out on the Ocean. I'll have links up on the tunes page shortly and you'll be able to download the PDFs. In the meantime you can access them through the links below...

All the best,


Link to Willie Coleman's Jig PDF
Link to Tripping up Stairs PDF
Link to Out on the Ocean

Friday, April 6, 2012

April Slow Session Next Wednesday April 11!

I can't believe it is already April! Where did the time go? I hope you all had a great St. Patrick's month. I know at least one of you went and saw Martin Hayes down in the Kingston area last month. I'd love to know who else you went to see/hear and what tunes you're playing these days!

Just a quick reminder that our slow session is next Wednesday from 7:30-9:00 PM. We'll be playing the tunes that we have on the session list on this blog.

This month's new session set is: Willie Coleman's Jig/Tripping up Stairs/Out on the Ocean. I will have PDFs posted and link to the tunes by tomorrow, but you probably all already know these tunes!

So, brush up and be ready for our fun session next week! Remember, even the pros practice their tunes before a session! Lord knows, I'll be practicing!

See you all soon and have a great weekend,


Friday, March 23, 2012

Nice Session for March!

I meant to just log on quickly and say how nice the session was last week. We will continue to play the session sets and review new tunes. I will be adding one or two more session sets either from last season or compiled of new tunes for next month. I will also include a few more new teaching tunes just to keep things fresh.

Madame Bonaparte continues to present challenges, so I should have a suggested bowing technique video for our fiddlers in the next week. I'm also interested in how whistle and flute players would phrase that "tricky" section in the B part (BdGd BdGd / ceAe ceAe / BdGd BdGd / F#ADA F#ADA). I think all other instruments would be forced by the nature of their construction to phrase as required by picking, pushing or pulling, but I could be wrong. I will be exploring that as well. 

I'm interested in your thoughts and/or demonstrations, so send video or audio with explanations if you want, or simply post for discussion's sake!



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Session Tonight!

Hey, Friends,

Tonight's session will be an actual session. We'll be playing the sets of tunes we learned for last month as well as the session sets we've used in the 2011 fall "semester." Hope you have time to brush up for the fun!

New attendees are always welcome. If you don't have time between work and the session to print out sheet music for the tunes on the list, we'll have a few copies tonight that you can have. Otherwise, if you've got time to print them out (if you need them), you can get the links from the Slow Session Tunes link. The PDFs and MP3s are hosted in the Google Cloud and you can download and print them right form the links on the page.

Feel free to email me @ Fidilkid [at] hotmail [dot] com if you have any problems with downloads or access to the tunes!

See you tonight!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Important Travel News - Instruments as Carry-ons Nationwide!

Important news hit the music world on Tuesday of this week - I just picked it up from and Tim Raab. Congress has legislated nationwide standards for airlines requiring that musical instruments be allowed as carry-ons providing they fit safely in the overhead bins or underneath the seats.

Flight Crews on flights to Ireland have been consistently fabulous about letting us bring all sorts of instruments on board, and YES, a heavy duty guitar flight case WILL fit in the overhead bin safely, with room for a fiddle case and even an accordion soft case and a concertina case! (Gary, Eric and I share a row and if we're lucky we can get all our instruments in one bin.)

American Flight Crews have been iffy at best. We fly Southwest when we can (despite the convertible roofs). They're consistently great with instruments. On the negative side, we had a flight on one of those tiny little commuter jets where we thought maybe we were lucky to have checked the 'zouk. The landing gear wouldn't come down and I joked to Eric (as we all realized that we'd just been circling Albany for 45 minutes to burn down the remaining fuel load) that at least we could slide down the runway on that case!

The best story we have though, is of a US Air gate attendant in Philly who literally held the plane and had them RE-open the door, so he could come ON the plane and remove Eric's guitar from the overhead bin on an 80% empty flight, simply because he told Eric the flight was full and he wasn't allowed to bring it on. If the flight had been full (i.e. if US Air had managed to get a flight into Philly on time for once), Eric would have gladly taken it to be gate checked. Instead, the guy had a fit, came on, grabbed the guitar, yelled at Eric, and took the guitar off to be loaded in the hold, or rather, thrown into the hold. Maybe now, after twelve years, I can fly US Air again.

Anyway, here's the link to the AFM's press release about the legislation!



Apologies for a Service Error

First of all, I want to apologize to my compadres for the issue with links in the email notifications. I don't understand why Google will not put the correct link into the message. It may have to do with some setting I didn't know I was supposed to "set" or something to do with the way I click on the button. I'm sure Google would like me to think it is a "User error." Let me just say that if [when] you get an error message in one of the notices, just click on the link to the page. It will take you to the newest post.

So sorry for the inconvenience. 

Thanks, Google.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Did You Print Your Music?

Hi, gang! Just a quick reminder that our slow session is tonight at the Old Songs Community Arts Center, 37 South Main Ave., Voorheesville, NY 12186.

I want to make sure that if you plan to come that you try your best to print out the sheet music before you come. I will have copies available, and we can certainly make copies if necessary!

Looking forward to seeing you all!


Monday, February 6, 2012

MP3s Up - Thanks to George!

Hiya, Lads!

The MP3 files for the learning tunes for the next two months are UP on the Slow Session Tunes page. Thank you so much to George Ward for quickly taking the spots and turning around some very nice sloooowwww recordings of the tunes.

These tunes were played on Tin Whistle. George and I have been discussing the fact that sometimes whistle players have trouble hearing the notation of new tunes played on other instruments. George points out that there is an inherent challenge in this: high D whistle players are playing an octave higher than everyone else.

I notice this issue in seasoned players as well as new players, so I think it is just a matter of figuring out where your whistle low octave breaks and becomes the high octave. It's worth discussing, but I'm not the one to make the case. Perhaps George will share information with us in a guest post if he can ever find the time!



Sunday, February 5, 2012

February/March Slow Session Tunes Up

Howdy, folks! We are finally ready to go with the February/March list of tunes for playing/learning.

It's a lot of work to get all these tunes ready, and I'm sure you'll find a mistake here or there, so please bring a pencil this Wednesday so we can mark stuff up.

The tunes are linked to PDFs which will open in a separate browser screen. You can download, print, or otherwise admire our handiwork as much as you like.

CLICK HERE for the February/March Tune List. 

I'm still working on allowing posts on the "Tunes I Wanna Learn" page, as well as putting together older lists and creating zip files for you to download. Also, hopefully we'll have mp3s and/or videos linked to the page so you can hear what the tunes are supposed to sound like.

I'm looking forward to seeing anyone and everyone at:
The Old Songs Traditional Irish Slow Session
37 South Main Ave., Voorheesville, NY 12186
Wednesday, February 8 from 7:30-9:00 PM!

$3 per person for heat/lights/photocopying if necessary.

Thanks, lads,


p.s. Thank you so much to Lisa and John for reviewing the spots for me (and checking alternate sources for comparison's sake). Also to everyone who sent me feedback on links, access, PR, etc. for the blog. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all of you!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Under Construction

Hi, gang,

I wish you guys would subscribe to this blog so I don't have to continually send you email updates...

The latest is that I'm working on the PDFs and sound files for the February/March tunes. The first tune (Limerick Lasses) is up there. It is a pretty close approximation of Paddy O'Brien's version, but mainly I used what I remember as Mike McHale's version. This pretty well matches up with the Mally books as well the version on the session, with a few minor edits.

Keep checking back for more updates!


p.s. tonight is the Broken String Band with Claudine Langille at the Ale House in Lansingburgh. Claudine will do a set at 8 PM and we'll join her with a few special guests at 9 PM and play until around 11 PM. Come on out and have dinner with us while we listen to Claudine and hang out to hear the whole gang play!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thank Your Mentor...

January is National Mentoring Month. How do I know this? Well...I hate to admit this, but I'm watching The View instead of listening to the neighbor's barking dog. Really, can you blame me? I work at home. There are probably a million ways to avoid hearing the incessant barking. But I can't listen to Irish music while I'm working, or I won't get any work done. The show is all about the impact that mentors have on those they work with. Famous or not, the time a mentor takes to teach, guide, and inspire their mentee can be life-changing. 

What I'd like to know is this: "Who is your Irish music mentor? Who inspires you and pushes you to do better?" My list is too long, really, but I'll give you a few: George Ward. John Roberts. Lisa Preston. Ged Foley. Pat O'Connor. Laurel Martin. Eric Everson. These are the people that step up, take time to listen, let me listen to them, give me advice, push me to do better, give me shit when I'm not doing enough. I love them. And I'm better for knowing them.

How about you?


p.s. Want to learn more about Mentoring? Visit this link:

p.p.s. tunes are on the way. bear with me...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fighting off Alzheimer's...

"People who have made mental engagement a lifelong habit have lower levels of a key protein linked to Alzheimer's disease...". (ScienceDaily, Jan. 23, 2012) While there's no direct evidence that increasing the level of difficulty of your intellectual pursuits later in life will stave off Alzheimer's, we can only hope that playing Irish music counts as challenging mental stimulation!

To read the story:

Word to the Wise: Go learn a new instrument!!

Building the Blog...

Hey, gang,

To my knowledge, there are two slow sessions around town. One is led by Colleen O'Sullivan at the monthly Albany CCE Sean O'Riada Branch meeting on the third Sunday of each month (except in Summer). Check out for more info on the meetings. And the other is mine, also monthly, at Old Songs Community Arts Center ( on the second Wednesday evening of each month (except in July).

Colleen and I had a really nice phone conversation yesterday morning about what (and how) each of us is doing at our respective sessions. There are more and more new people coming out to play the music at both our sessions - although that makes leading the sessions a bit tricky because the attendance varies and the attendees vary as well. To try and ease preparation and maybe give everybody an idea of what we're doing across the board, we've decided to collaborate a bit on tunes for each month. That means that we'll be on hold for our February tunes for a few more days. Then I have to have Lisa check the "spots" for accuracy across a number of versions (thank you for the help, Lisa), and a few different folks record the mp3s.

In the meantime, I'm working on figuring out how and where to host the .pdfs of the sheet music and the .mp3s of the tunes.

I'll keep ya POST-ed!

Talk soon,


Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to my new blog!

Hi, folks. It's the new year, and while I don't usually make resolutions, this year I resolved to make it easier to share and enjoy the music we all love. This blog will be the home (hopefully) of the .pdfs of sheet music for the Old Songs Irish Slow Session, and a place to find the mp3s of the tunes. This will also be home of tunes for my students and for my melody class. I hope to start a page here for "Tunes I Want to Learn" and maybe we'll even publish that "secret hidden tune list" that everyone keeps talking about...

We had a brilliant visit to Ireland this year, and that's inspired me in all kinds of ways, so look for offshoot posts about various projects that I'm hoping will grow out of this year's trip.

Stay tuned for fun, music, and inspiration. I wish you all the best in 2012!