At least for the time being, our Slow Session is online only. I hope that we will be able to have actual live Sessions again sometime in the future.


The Bloomington, IL Slow Session traditionally meets on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month from 10:00am to Noon. This Session is intended for newer players, as well as for more experienced players that wish to refine their techniques at a slower pace.

There is no cost, but please contact us by email before the first Session that you attend (so that we know approx. how many people to expect).


Session Etiquette

If Irish Sessions are new to you, you might want to take a look at the following web pages:

Session Etiquette

More Session Etiquette

Still More Session Etiquette

One thing that I might add to their comments - keep in mind that an Irish Session is not just a "jam session". In almost all cases, it's really not acceptable to do improvisation on a melody instrument at an Irish Session. When playing in an Irish Session, melody instruments should stick to the melody of the tune that's being played. There is of course, plenty of room for individual embellishments (ornamentations) within the frame-work of the tune.

If you're not familiar with a tune being played at a Session and are trying to learn it, try to play very quietly, so as not to disrupt the flow of the tune. (this of course, does not apply at our "Slow Session", where the whole idea is to learn the tunes...).

You usually won't see sheetmusic at a Session (the tunes are usually flying too fast for such things anyway), but players at our Slow Session can bring sheetmusic with them if needed.


Tunes, Info, Links, etc:


Tunes We're Working On

You're much better off learning tunes by ear, but if you need a little help, click on the name of a tune below for the sheetmusic.
Participants are welcome to bring sheetmusic with them to the Slow Session.

Please do not think of our Slow Session (or this website) as "music lessons" - it's not our intention here to teach you the "proper" way to play your instrument. The Slow Session is designed mainly to help players become comfortable playing Traditional music with other players.

Also, when listening to the recordings below, keep in mind that our idea of "Full-speed" is not something that's written-in-stone by any means. You'll find different tempos everywhere you go.

to "Rhythm" players (Players that play the chords instead of the melody):
Please keep in mind that just about all of the chord progressions posted here are very generic; you should experiment with finding your own chord progressions and rhythm patterns. Most importantly, listen to recordings of accomplished Irish rhythm players whenever you can, to get ideas on how to develop your own unique style.

Note to "Melody" players:
You'll notice that the melody instruments in most of the recordings on this page use very little ornamentation. This lack of ornamentation is intentional, so that beginning players can get the feel for the melody, instead of being confused by extra embellishments that aren't actually part of the melody. As your playing improves, you should add ornamentation as you see fit. Your goal is to make the music your own, not to exactly copy someone else's playing style.
To get ideas for ornamentation, listen to recordings of accomplished Irish melody players whenever you can!

Printing Hint:
If you find that the edges of the sheetmusic are cut off when you print it, try it with your printer in "Landscape Mode"
(Sheetmusic may not match recordings exactly)

Recordings marked with an *asterisk* were recorded live at one of our Slow Sessions!

.mus files!

Musician (and Slow Session friend) Lucy Orgain has been nice enough to create some absolutely beautiful arrangements of a few of our Slow Session tunes. Her arrangements were created using the music notation software "Finale". The full-version of Finale is a very feature-rich (and is priced as such...), but there several lower priced versions available also. To use display (and play) the .mus files below, you can download the FREE "Finale Reader".

Once you've installed Finale Reader on your system, just click on one of the .mus files below to open it. You'll then see the sheetmusic displayed; you'll also see buttons to play the full arrangement of the tune through your computer's speakers. You'll also find buttons that allow you to change the tempo (speed) that the tune is playing!

For each of the ".mus Files" below, you'll find:

~ Full Version - includes the melody instrument, plus several other instruments
~ Muted Melody - a version with the main melody instrument muted in the playback (so you can play the melody along with the accompaniment)
~ Melody Only - a version that includes only the main melody


(Click name for sheetmusic)
.mus Files
(Download free Reader from Finale)
Banish Misfortune Slow Full-speed Full Version Muted Melody Melody Only  
Barney Brallaghan *Slow* *Full-speed*        
Behind the Bush in the Garden

Full Version Muted Melody Melody Only

Note that this tune is in the key of C! That means that all the Fs are Naturals, not sharps! If you're playing this tune on a D whistle, you can just slide your right middle finger half way off of it's hole to easily finger this note.

This tune is a bit easier to play on a C whistle (if you have one), but keep in mind that if you play it on a C whistle, the sheetmusic will not match the fingerings that you're used to (everything will be one full step off). Here's a link to how the "A" part of the tune would be played on a C whistle.

The Blackthorn Stick
                  .pdf version of sheetmusic
Slow Full-speed        
Blarney Pilgrim *Slow* *Full-speed*        
Boys of Bluehill Slow Full-speed Full Version Muted Melody Melody Only 10/17/04 - Sheetmusic updated You'll see small asterisks (*) under the notes that were changed (seven total changed notes).
Recording has not yet been changed!
Britches Full of Stitches Slow Full-speed        
The Butterfly Slow Full-speed        
Cockles and Mussels

Click on the link for this song to go to a page with more info, and the recordings.

Concertina Reel
                  .pdf version of sheetmusic
Recordings coming soon        
Cooley's Slow Full-speed        
Dingle Regatta Slow Full-speed        
Donnybrook Fair Slow Full-speed        
By Thom Larson (©2004)
Slow Full-speed        
The Friendly Visit Slow Full-speed       02/22/04 - Sheetmusic updated (Changed one Cnatural to a C# in the "B" part)

10/16/04 -
Sheetmusic updated (Changed some guitar chords; melody remained unchanged)

Recording has not yet been changed!
Gary Owen (Garryowen)
                  .pdf version of sheetmusic
Slow Full-speed        
Give Me Your Hand Slow Full-speed        
The Glass of Beer Slow Full-speed        
Hardiman the Fiddler Slow Full-speed       10/16/04 - Sheetmusic updated (Changed some guitar chords; melody remained unchanged)
Recording has not yet been changed!
Harvest Home Slow Full-speed        
The Kerry Polka Slow Full-speed       11/12/05 - New recording (recording now includes guitar). Thanks to the members of Bloomsday for letting me record this at practice!
The Kesh Slow Full-speed        
The Killavil Jig Slow Full-speed        
The Lilting Fisherman Slow Full-speed        
Maid Behind the Bar *Slow* *Full-speed*        
*Recording from Slow Session!*
Merrily Kiss the Quaker Slow Full-speed        
Miss McLeod's Slow Full-speed        
Mrs. Ryan's Slow Full-speed        
O'Keefe's Slide Slow Full-speed Full Version Muted Melody Melody Only  
Off to California Slow Full-speed        
*Recording from Slow Session!*
Polka Set
Note -  This piece of sheetmusic is in .pdf format. If you can't open it, you'll need to install the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer (it's free).
      This is the sheetmusic for four Polkas ("Mrs. Ryan's", "Kerry Polka", "Britches Full of Stitches", and "Ryan's") all on one page, so that it's easier to work on them as a "Set" (a "Set" means that you play one tune right after the other, with no break in the rhythm).

You'll find recordings of these four Polkas under their names in this list.

11/12/05 - Added "Ryan's Polka" to this Set!

Road to Lisdoonvarna Slow Full-speed        
Rolling in the Ryegrass Slow Full-speed        
We Three Kings
(This is NOT a tune that we're working on for the Slow Session)
(This Version ©
Thom Larson 2004)
      12/19/04 - This is NOT a tune that we're working on for the Slow Session. I recorded it earlier today and thought that it came out well, so I posted it here...

I played it on a Low G whistle. If you'd like to learn it on your Soprano D whistle, open the recording up in "The Amazing SlowDowner", and set the "Pitch" Slider to somewhere between "6.90" and "7.00" - this should make it so that you can play along on your Soprano D whistle.

Ryan's Polka Slow Full-speed       This recording is from Bloomday's "Sad Songs and Merry Wars" CD. Note that the guitar chords written on the sheetmusic do not match the recording!
(recording used by permission of Bloomsday)
Wind That Shakes the Barley Slow Full-speed        

Recordings marked with an *asterisk* were recorded live at one of our Slow Sessions!

Even though I have slower versions of these tunes posted here, I still recommend that you get "The Amazing Slow Downer" from Roni Music. It allows you change the speed of any tune on a CD (or .mp3 and .wav files on your computer), without changing the pitch of the tune (it does also allow you to change the pitch, if you need to). The program is free to try and is simple to use. The full version is very reasonably priced.

I don't receive any reimbursement from Roni Music for this endorsement; I just think that it's an excellent piece of software. All of the "slow" versions of the recordings on this page were slowed down using The Amazing Slow Downer.


Irish Modes in D
Irish Modes In G


Instructions for saving recordings
to your hard-drive

Slow Session e-Mail List

 Pics from the Monday Night Lucca Grill Sessions!

Send Thom an email

I try to keep this website as up to date as possible, but the best way to make sure that you get all the information regarding our Slow Session is to get on our mailing list!

 Just send an email asking to be included on the Slow Session e-Mail List. Please include your first and last name, as well as the City, State, and/or Country where you live (none of this is required, but would certainly be appreciated).

Many people follow our Slow Session, even though they live too far away to ever attend in person. Please feel free to sign up for our Slow Session Email List, even if you won't ever be able to attend any of our Sessions; this way you'll know when I've posted new tunes to work on, etc.

You will never receive any "Junk Mail" by signing up for this list! The only emails that you'll receive will be from me pertaining directly to this Slow Session (and occasionally other Celtic-music-related events in Illinois). Believe me, I hate Spam email as much as you do.