(otherwise known as OTIS)


Email: irishsession@oberlin.net


I regretfully announce that OTIS will not be holding any more sessions - at least in its present form. We have been struggling as a group for some time now and, considering our present state, I do not foresee us being able to continue as a vibrant session. Hopefully at some time in the future OTIS can be reconstituted and reborn in a different form. Ideas that come to mind are broadening it to include more types of folk music and/or something in conjunction with the Woodshed, the college folk group, or the college contra club. (Please note: these ideas have not been pursued yet and I cannot speak for these groups.) I would love to hear from anyone with ideas as to how OTIS can be re-energized and I will keep the communication channels open by continuing to maintain the website and email address.

We have had some great sessions, we have learned a lot, and we have had some mighty craic. I would like to thank the many fine musicians who have made the last five years an incredible experience. And I would particularly like to thank the folks at Slow Train for hosting us these many years.

In OTIS's hopefully temporary absence I trust that all of you will seek out new musical venues and experiences. I know I will. I look forward to what the future has in store, even though I don't know what that is.


We have a web page that lists the tunes by number where you

can display PDF files and play MIDI files of the tunes.

We have a web page that lists the tunes by name where you

can display PDF files and play MIDI files of the tunes.

We have a web page that lists tune sets where you

can display 3 and 1 page PDF files of the sets.

You can even download a .zip file to your device that

contains all of the web pages, PDFs, and MIDI files!

And you can download the .ABC source file.

Unfortunately, tablet cheat sheets are not available yet.

(Updated 7/26/17)

Check out our pictures!

(Updated 9/17/15)

Other resources:

You might find this virtual session, with audio and sheet music, helpful.

Irish American News - Ohio has back issues and lots of local Irish info.

The closest cultural organization is the West Side Irish American Club.

Session etiquette:

  • This is not a round robin session, but we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to introduce themselves and start a tune (or two or three or even several).  What we don't want is for a strong player or two to dominate the session.  There is no leader, so be bold, jump in, and start a tune!

  • We encourage you to know the names of the tunes that you start, but that is not mandatory.

  • Please respect and maintain the tempo that is set by the person who started the tune.

  • Please listen, try to fit in, and "go with the flow."  This is particularly important for rhythm players, who need to coordinate their efforts.

  • This is a session, not a concert.  Sure, we have a place for sean nos (solo song) and other special tunes, but our emphasis should be on group instrumental participation.  If you start a tune intended for group play and others don't know it, please cut it short and try a different tune.

  • This is a session, not a ceili or a contra.  There is no need for everything to be played at dancing speed.  We should play a mix of faster and slower tunes so that both more and less experienced players can have some fun.

  • Although you are welcome to start single tunes, you are encouraged to start a set.  Most often (but not always), sets are two or three tunes of the same type (jig, reel, etc.) with a change of keys from one tune to the next and with a similar feel or theme.

  • This is folk music.  Variations in melody, tempo, and embellishment are to be expected.

  • In other words, proper session etiquette is less about personal attention and more about making sure you add to the enjoyment of others while enjoying yourself as well.

Tom Lock is the webmaster and organizer of Oberlin's Traditional Irish Session.