I’ve been passionate about acoustic music for nearly thirty years, and I’ve played in hundreds of sessions. A session can look, at first glance, like a joyously chaotic free-for-all – or, alternatively, like a well-oiled machine whose internal workings are hidden, mysterious, and therefore rather intimidating.

In my experience, newbie sessioners fall into three camps. There are those who think ‘People are making music – woo-hoo!’ and wade in with their instruments, oblivious to the notion that a session, like any social situation, has certain requirements and principles of etiquette. The flipside are the socially-aware types who know there must be rules, but can’t work out what they are. These folk are either too scared to approach, even though they’d desperately love to join in; or else having found the courage to take a seat, they tremble on the edge of it miserable with anxiety about doing something wrong.

The third group of newbies are those who ask courteously if they can join the session, watch and listen carefully to work out the rules, and eventually leave with everybody looking forward to the next time they come along. This blog is designed to help newbie sessioners get to that stage more quickly – enjoying, and being enjoyed by, their fellow musicians.

This blog is also for seasoned sessioners. Over time, we hope to invite guest bloggers to share their experiences and insights about what makes a good session, how to make newcomers feel welcome, where to find repertoire – any and all aspects of the art of sessioning. Comments are welcome any time. Enjoy!


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