Winter Cape Breton Fiddle and Dance Camp

One of the best ways to work on mastering your instrument is to immerse yourself completely in the music as much as you you possibly can. Music is just like a language and the more you hear it and are surrounded by it, the more you pick up.

Coming up next month, you’ll have an opportunity to spend the weekend immersing yourself in some Cape Breton music and dance with the Winter Cape Breton Fiddle and Dance Camp with fiddlers Troy MacGillivray, Wendy MacIsaac and Beth Telford.

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Play like you have nothing to lose

Irish Band in Vermont

Green Corduroy playing in a tree-house in Moretown, VT

You just learned a new tune and you play it over and over in your living room when no one is home. Each time you play it, it gets better and better. At some point it sounds so good that you think of quitting your day job and taking it on the road. You envision yourself touring with your favorite band.

The tune is that good. And your playing of it, is that superb.

You then hit the session that week and decide to start that very same tune. You gather up your courage and step up into the silence to play the first note. Suddenly you can’t remember the rest of the tune. That tune you just quit your job for and became a rock star with suddenly is lost in the abyss of your brain and you start to panic.

After the freak-out passes, you eventually do get through the tune though it doesn’t sound anything like the monumental piece you practiced in your living room all week. (Thank God you didn’t really quit your day job).

This does happen to you, right?

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2013 in review

Thank you all for your continued support of both Irish music and my blog. Please feel free to write me if you have a topic you’d like me to write about or if you’d like to be a guest blogger for Session Obsession. I hope you have a safe and happy new year! I’m looking forward to writing more in 2014!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Post by Katrina VanTyne

The Music of West Limerick

west limerick music

Go Sox!

Being from Boston I can spot a Boston accent a mile away. And not only that, I can tell from what part of Boston someone is from solely by their accent. For example there is a difference between a south Boston accent and an East Boston accent.

Irish music is much the same in that there is regionalism in the music. We’ve been learning about different styles of Irish music in a class I’m taking at the  Vermont School of Traditional Music. Some weeks we have different players who specialize in different styles come and visit the class and teach us about that region. Last week fiddler Rob Ryan came and spoke about West Limerick music. Here’s what he had to say:

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Crossing that threshold


courtesy of

The other day I went to a karate class for the first time. I almost bagged it because…well…it’s scary starting something new, something you’ve never done before. And seriously, people who do karate are a bit intimidating.

So I drove by the dojo a few times and came very close to turning around and going home. But when it came right down to it, I couldn’t let my fear dictate my fate.

So I walked in and everyone was dressed in their whites and their colored belts and here’s me in my black work-out clothes (what can I say, black is slimming). The sensei greeted me and told me to get in the back row so I could watch everyone else and follow along. I had no idea what I was doing and as you can imagine, I was downright scared.

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Fairies in the Fiddle

Fiddle School in IrelandThere are fairies in the fiddle!

I was told last night by my house-mate that in Ireland some teachers, when teaching children to play the fiddle, make the kids put the fiddle on the table while the teacher plays a tune. The children are instructed to lightly place their fingers on the strings while the teacher is playing. When they do this, they can feel the instrument vibrating. The children are then told that the vibrations they are feeling, are the fairies inside the fiddle and it’s their job to bring them out through the music.

I love this story, not only because I love the concept of fairies roaming around us but because I feel that vibration in my fiddle during sessions and it is truly magical.

This is only one of the many stories I’ve heard this week and I’m sure to hear more.

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Heading to Ireland

glencolmcille, Ireland


My music has taken me to places around the world like Scotland, Switzerland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. This time it’s taking me to a tiny town on the northwest corner of Ireland called Glencolmcille.

I’ll be spending a week at a fiddle school there studying the Donegal-style tradition and then traveling around the countryside to view the scenery, make some friends and share a tune or two along the way.

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