This is NEWS really, but I'd be interested in relevant helpful comments.

I have been running an  monthly Acoustic session at THE OLDE SWAN in Brightlingsea High St. Essex, on the 3rd. Thurs of every month, for over 14 years now and we regularly have around 15 players at laest at each session - but all in their middle years - we're keen to engage the interest of younger players, but they tend to be drawn towards the 'Open Mike' nights that we also have in our area. I have started to visit these open mike do's and play Trad. instruments, songs and tunes; usually well - received but as yet have not got the younger folks involved much. Ideas??? Bill Kitchen Brightlingsea Essex UK


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Just a thought for a longer term solution.  I would suggest targetting young parents (late 20s-30s) with grade school aged kids.  Get the parents interested by playing for church and community groups.  We did a gig for an outdoor block party which was 50% young families and all the younger parents got up and were dancing with their kids.  We probably could have scheduled a slow circle class for the next week and had 4 or 5 attendees atleast.  I played one evening recently at an impromptu "talent" night at a local church.  3 of the 12 or so grade school aged kids that performed played a folk or trad tune.  Several parents spoke with me after about where, how their kids could get more exposure to "traditional" music.  Once you have some "family" interest via a "slow learning session", consider starting an afternoon session in an alcohol free coffeeshop to get the kids used to playing an acoustic session early.  Nothing new here, but just thought I'd share some recent observations.  I also notice the same thing at sessions I go to, players ranging from 40s up for the most part.  I took my 19 year old son a couple times, he plays guitar well and is majoring in classical violin, and has an indie pop band and just could not spark the interest in him.  So I do know what you mean here.  Good luck in building a base of younger players.  Would be interested in hearing of your successes with it.

Hi Bill,

Sorry meant to comment on this the first time round but it somehow passed me by. Depending on what space you have in the pub outside the main bar areas, is there a possibility to give over room/s to some music teachers, who could do lessons there for free with family sessions afterwards/one a week what ever. Many years ago I used to attend Aras Na Gael in Queens Park when Brendan Mulkaire taught in a room over the main bar. The centre then became a magnet for musicians and a family location for sessions. In all depends on the space available. Also I see some of the larger pubs over here with good street frontage hiving off some space and putting retail out front. Why not do the same by creating a small theatre 50-80 seats for local play/music teaching etc. I firmly believe that if I had a large pub I would simply hand the space over for nothing on the basis that in the long term you as a landlord will gain.

You may not be the owner but that should not preclude finding a location/friendly pub with space, getting some teachers to anchor it. Also have a look at what a friend of mine, also a member here did in Wicklow Town with setting up music sessions. He did it all himself, website and all. Philip Maguire Check out

Lesson being, nothing is easy but the rewards can be great. Connect musicians together to inspire each other etc. Get kids out playing. You will find a way.


Many thanks for your interest and useful suggestions. I do go into local schools and teach a variety of instruments ( the Ukulele is very popular at the moment in this area!), but I like the idea of a cafe -based session, and I shall also approach the local youth centre.

Cheers Bill

Many thanks for your interest and those useful suggestions/links.

Some idesa for progress are gelling in me old brain, so once xmas is passed, I'll try a couple of things. Cheers Bill

Hope all is well with you Bill. I agree with you about getting folk involved in traditional Celtic music. We work with a local community group here in Allen, Texas, called the "Like Minded Friends," that is made up of players and non-players, but all support the same interest in having Celtic-Folk music. We meet in the restored, Train Depot "museum" with sponsorship by the Allen Heritage Guild. We combine both acoustic and "open-mic" settings in our meetings to help people of all ages "get interested," and we don't limit our repertoire to JUST traditional Celtic tunes. Over here in the States, Celtic music is infused into a lot of music forms. I'm particularly interested in Celtic-Bluegrass approaches with the music ... and the harmonicas.

Getting these kinds of cultural art support groups involved is extremely important in not only playing the music, but in promoting interest for folk of all ages to know that Celtic music is part of all music. -- KelticDead

Hi Patrick - so good to learn of your endeavours - do keep up the good work!

Of course it is particularly important to involve younger folk within these 'sessions' - increasingly we are finding new faces coming along and joining-in with us old grey beards. I have a number of youngsters taking-up folk instrument lessons with me ( banjo, mandolin, harmonica, whistles and ukulele [ which is seen particularly COOL to play nowadays] ).

Most of the sessions that I attend are in village pubs which is gradually breathing a little more life into these ancient institutions (esp since the smoking bans was introduced a few years ago) so landlords welcome us folkies with open arms and even provide a free first drink AND food too.

Keep picking away.

Cheers Bill 

Yep. We've had several pubs that allow smoking and then not, but surprisingly, the non-smoking pubs fare better than the smoking ones, ... at least on this side of the Atlantic. Part of the fun in being part of "non-traditional" groups in playing "traditional" tunes is that the experience simply makes the tunes and songs even more "enriched," if that's the right term for it.

Folk always seem to be a bit surprised that harmonicas can do more than "blues," and when I do a fast jig or reel, they frequently come up to me, and say "I didn't know those could DO that!" It's fun.

One can't be TOO serious when playing harmonicas anyway. After all, we sometimes HAVE to suck at it to play it at all. = ^ )

Thanks Bill. Keep on Harpin' . -- KelticDead

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