Attended the Tues night Georgestown neighborhood session last night at the Georgetown Pub in St. John's, Newfoundland. Went to listen, not to play, however I regret not bringing my banjo as during the hour I was there 4 or 5 tunes came up that I could have played along to. As a listener it probably wasn't the most cohesive session as all tunes are played slowly and by ear so everyone is encouraged to participate even if all you do is flub.
Even though I've been playing trad music for 5 years now I've never played anything by ear or from the heart. I suppose a session like this where you're not allowed to bring a tune book but at the same time you're given permission to fail would be good for me.
Lack of patience, wanting to play the tune the "right" way and fear of what others think I sound like has caused me to take the easy route of playing by sight from tab. I've done a better job than most of making this fake method sound like music but something about that Georgestown session has maybe made me want to try it the way you're supposed to. We'll see. My biggest fear with that has always been the risk of frustration and giving it up altogether when I know that I can play for my own enjoyment simply by reading along to the tab.
What I think I'll do is make recordings of the 100+ tunes I play by sight but not by ear and then try to play along with the recordings. It will take a beginner's mind to start from scratch like that, and perhaps another 5 years or more to get back to where I am now but hopefully it will be worth it. They say it's the journey and not the destination, right?