Learn to play Cape Breton tunes
Workshops and Lessons
Ottawa Cape Breton Session occasionally hosts workshops in piano, fiddle, guitar and step dance led by artists from Cape Breton. Past workshops have included Andrea Beaton, Troy MacGillivray, Jake Charron, Denis Lanctot, Glenn Graham, Dara MacDonald-Smith, Adam Young, and many more.
Stay Tuned for news of upcoming workshops and concerts.
Other Slow Jams
The Ottawa (Celtic) Slow Jam (OSJ) is a group of 20 or more musicians which meet Thursdays at 7:30pm at the Ottawa Glebe Community Centre to play mainly Irish but also quite a bit of Cape Breton music at a somewhat slower tempo with sheet music. A fee of $2 helps cover the cost of the room rental.
The Carp Celtic Jam is a weekly session for musicians of all levels and ages who want to play with others, whether by ear or from sheet music. This group meets Mondays from 7pm to 9pm at the Carp Masonic Lodge, 3704 Carp Road. A fee of $3 per session covers room rental.
Private Lessons - Local
The music teachers listed below are available to teach all levels, and include Cape Breton repertoire in their teaching. Most are also available to hire for various events. Several of these instructors also teach via Skype or Zoom. Contact them directly if you are interested. We've also included a link to one of our go-to event sound guys, who specializes in fiddle and other traditional live music sound reinforcement.
Reel Slooow Jams
Ottawa Cape Breton Session slow jams occur on the second and/or fourth Sunday of each month. The slow jam usually has players of varying levels, we aim to play at a level somewhere in the middle of the overall level of the group. This means it could be different each time, depending on who attends. It is aimed at those who are new to fiddling and want to play with others, at those who play but struggle with learning new tunes, or are new to the rhythms and tunes of Cape Breton music . It's also good practice for those who want to be able to play without relying on the sheet music.
Slow jams usually focus on one tune at a time, occasionally putting more tunes together into a set. At a session each participant is asked choose a tune from the RSJ list on the Tunes page. At the bottom of the table you will see tabs for slow jam sets, as well as a tab for the regular jam sets. Mostly we focus on the slow jam tunes, but you may also choose a tune from one of the sets on the other tab. There are mp3 and midi files to help you learn the tunes. Bring your music and a stand to read along, or you may choose to play by ear. Generally we play each tune three times or four times, the first and second time quite slowly, then faster for the rest of the repetitions (but still slower than you would hear at a pub session). We generally stick to tunes in the easier keys of A, D and G, and play more than just slow airs - jigs, strathspeys, marches and reels are all important too!
To get the most out of the session you should be able to play at least three or four tunes at a slow pace reasonably smoothly, either with or without the music.
Slow jams are hosted by volunteers in their homes, and usually have limited capacity. To attend a slow jam you MUST sign up in advance, for each session a signup form will be sent to the slow jam email list, and posted on the website. Please do not contact hosts directly, or just show up - all coordination of locations, leaders and communication is done through Ottawa Cape Breton Session. Join the main email list to stay in the loop on when slow jams are scheduled.