Mar 2024 – Second Thursday Tune Sessions, March through June


By Sharon Allen

Monthly tune teaching sessions are still going strong after more than two decades! On the second Thursday of each month, a dozen or so musicians gather to learn two or three new tunes by ear, with lots and lots of repetition. Any melody player is welcome, regardless of instrument or level of musicianship. George Penk and Betsy Branch alternate the teaching, and we also alternate between the east side and the west side of town. The goal is to develop a repertoire of tunes that are commonly played at jam sessions and at contra dances.

Learning and playing by ear is a great equalizer, and it doesn’t have to be intimidating. I promise that the length of time you’ve played your instrument doesn’t matter at all! I started attending these sessions when I had barely two months′ experience on my fiddle, and I learned tunes right alongside people who had been playing in orchestras for many years. If you can sing along to a song on the radio, you can learn to play tunes by ear! Recordings are posted on our website so you can work on the tunes at home after the session. You can also get an idea there of what has been taught in the past.

Last summer, we added an exciting new feature. Once each quarter, in lieu of being taught new tunes, we have a jam session. While the teaching sessions focus on learning melodies, the jam sessions are an opportunity to add rhythmic and backup instruments and just play the heck out of tunes from our shared repertoire. At our February jam, we had 20 people playing instruments that included piano, bodhran, fiddle, clarinet, mandolin, cello, and ukulele.  

These sessions are generously underwritten by PCDC. Why not take advantage of this great opportunity that your PCDC membership is already paying for?

Here’s our schedule for the next several months:
March 14: George Penk teaching in SW Portland 
April 11: Betsy Branch teaching in SE Portland 
May 9: Jam session, location TBD
June 13: George Penk teaching in SW Portland 

To receive monthly email reminders and for exact location information, contact me at: sharonjeanallen (at) yahoo (dot) com (“@” and “.” spelled out so I don’t accidentally get cyber-bombed).