Traditional Irish Music
We may disagree here a bit on this - but hopefully we'll not come to blows!
I'll give you my alternative view if I may?
There is no doubting that sessions are great fun and grand social occasions but for me they are not the last word in Irish music, just one aspect of it. Here are some of my reasons...........
1/ I enjoy listening to a good performance just as much as sitting in a session.
2/ There are lots of great tunes in the tradition that just don't seem to get played in sessions.
3/ Nobody gets to choose the tunes that I play except me - I don't learn stuff just to "fit in" at a session - it takes me too long to do that and there are hundreds of tunes I want to learn before I die.
4/ I can, and do, sit quite happily on my own for hours on end playing through the tunes I know, constantly trying to perfect my renditions of them (and never quite managing it!).
I'm not saying that I don't like sessions, just that, for me, they are not "the whole point", I reckon this music is far bigger than that. If I do attend a session I'm quite content to play along on the tunes I know and listen intently to the ones I don't. Indeed, I do discover "must learn" gems that way sometimes.
I think there's a fear factor, sometimes with good cause. I've been lucky to have found 2 or 3 sessions in NYC that are welcoming, understanding and supporting. I was shy at first but then I figured that at the ripe old age of 66 if I didn't start playing with other people I never would. It is certainly the best way to learn the tunes, the rhythm and the legends.
You could learn every tune you have ever heard and never "fit in" with every session;-) I'm the same as you, I only learn tunes I like, not tunes that are played in sessions just because everyone else does. But at the end of the day - I really believe that good tunes with others are what it is all about. But that is just my opinion of course ;-)
I go to sessions mainly because I like playing music much better than having to sit there and listen to it. On the other hand, though, it is nice to have some CD's of good music to listen to when driving somewhere on a trip.