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Scott R
May-17-2018, 10:08am
We have a pretty good Bluegrass scene around where I am, including a beginner jam that is fantastic for folks who are pretty comfortable playing in a group setting who are ready for the opportunity to practice solos in a group.

There is a small group of us that want to start a slow jam where we work through 1-2 new songs each week in the first hour, and then practice a few standards we rotate to practice on in the second hour.

The focus would be helping people who have never played in a group keep time, learn to read and improvise along melody lines, and generally pick up some of the more common bluegrass standards into their repertoire.

We are all pretty new to bluegrass playing, and playing together, and just need something with a slower pace to start.

I'm looking for some direction on what resources to put together to help get this started.

Specifically:

1. If you were going to give a 12 track songbook to a new jam group, what songs would you recommend as fun to play classics? (I think everybody around here is familiar with the Casey Fakebook--so songs inside that tome would be helpful.)

2. I'm a guitar player (learning mando), so helping folks with rhythm and melody there isn't a challenge--but I could really use a resource or reference on how to help mandolin, fiddle, bass, etc, players find their place in a jam. Where is my Jamming for dummies book? :)

3. Is this a good idea? Or is there a better way for us to accomplish this goal of playing together and making music instead of noise?

Again--thanks to everybody and I'm sure I will get lots of thoughts based on how nice everybody here seems to be.

Cheers!

rockies
May-17-2018, 10:30am
Ironscott, take a look at this site, these slow pitch jams have been going for many years, Contact Sue Malcomb through the site and she can supply all the info, support, materials etc. Good Luck with your very worth while project. http://www.slowpitchjam.com/ Dave

AndyV
May-17-2018, 10:31am
Sue Macolm's Slow Pitch Jam has been running for 22 years in Vancouver. I've never been so can't give feedback, but 22 yrs.... Six volumes of book/CD are available from slowpitchjam.com.

AndyV
May-17-2018, 10:33am
Two replies a minute apart and we both misspelled Sue's name.

rockies
May-17-2018, 10:42am
Well, Andy, I'm old .. what's your excuse? I went to Sorrento for 25 years and sat in on a lot of those jams, it was a very rewarding time. I live too far from Vancouver so haven't seen Sue for about 5 years now. She will get ironscott on his way to a very rewarding enterprise.
Dave

Jim Garber
May-17-2018, 10:47am
If you have a group of folks interested already, then take your cue from the existing slow jam: learn tunes that they are playing there. Books and notation are fine, of course, but encourage ear trainging and listening to each other. Also, encourage not speeding up of slowing down. If you are a solid guitar player, you may need to stay in that role or find someone else to keep the tempo solid. A group of beginners laying melody might lose that tempo.

One of the best things you can do is for the smaller, rank beginner group to work on things away from the slightly more experienced slow jam but it is also good to play in that jam as well.

MikeEdgerton
May-17-2018, 10:48am
What we used to call the Slow Jam at The Bluegrass and Oldtime Music Association in New Jersey is now called the Jamming Workshop. The page is a little outdated but they have some song titles from a few years ago. I need to talk to the webmaster of that site about updating it.

http://www.njbluegrass.org/jamming_workshop.htm

Scott R
May-17-2018, 10:52am
See, I would have never found this without all your help. Thanks, reading now!

:mandosmiley:

CarlM
May-17-2018, 11:52am
Just a few thoughts:
You might want to find a copy of the 10 or twelve rules of jam etiquette available in various forms on line and have them distributed.
You need a strong leader or pair of leaders who can tactfully keep people playing together, maintain respect and stop jam hogs from taking over the circle. That can be a problem even with experienced jammers.
Going around the circle so EVERYONE gets the chance to lead songs if they wish and to solo if they wish is very important.
You want to get agreement up front on what type of material you want to play in the jam or it will degenerate to country pop and soft rock of the seventies in most areas of the North America. If that is what you want that is ok but if you don't then it has to be politely managed.
You need to decide whether you want an open or invitation only jam.
If you want to work toward playing with regular bluegrass jams you need make a goal of learning to get away from reading and not to rely on written material. It is ok to start or to learn a new song, but generally bluegrass jams are done without relying on written material.
It helps a lot keeping people together if you have a bass player.

Jim Garber
May-17-2018, 12:44pm
We have a pretty good Bluegrass scene around where I am, including a beginner jam that is fantastic for folks who are pretty comfortable playing in a group setting who are ready for the opportunity to practice solos in a group.

There is a small group of us that want to start a slow jam where we work through 1-2 new songs each week in the first hour, and then practice a few standards we rotate to practice on in the second hour.


Maybe I misunderstood. I thought there was an existing slow jam already and that this sub-group are the rank beginners who have not played in a jam situation at all. In that case, i would say that the group that the OP wants to start is an adjunct to the existing slow jam. Am I wrong?

Scott R
May-17-2018, 1:22pm
Jim, there is a beginner jam that is not slow. :) They are mighty fine folks, but some of us newbies aren't ready to jump in (but are fine sitting back playing rhythm).

I'm just trying to facilitate a small group interested in bluegrass standards that want to woodshed and get confident enough to jump in with the beginner group.

No dissent here :)

Timbofood
May-17-2018, 6:23pm
This makes me feel really old!
“When I was...”
Younger, it was who had learned a few tunes from records and, wanted to share. Everyone brought beverages, someone brought a cooler filled with ice, some snacks and we just played.
Aw Cwap, I am old!
Hallelujah, I’m a bum!

CarlM
May-17-2018, 10:02pm
Depending on where you are if you can find a Wernick method or similar instructor near you and your friends are are willing to go together to pay for a workshop, that is a good way to get off on the right foot.

My first exposure to the "right" way to do that stuff was through weekend jam camps that were put on in the area where I live by Keith Yoder, who is the jam instructor for Kaufman Kamp, Bob Black and a couple of others. Keith is now living near Marysville, Tennessee and is excellent teaching the kinds of things you are wanting to figure out but I do not believe he has a formal written method. If you are anywhere near there, or in other areas for that matter, he is willing to come put on workshops in jamming and playing together for a fee. Here is his website: http://www.keithyodermusic.com/

There are Wernick method instructors throughout the country also who have different levels of training and experience with jam camp types of training also.

JL277z
May-18-2018, 1:11am
... encourage ear training and listening to each other. ...

Absolutely. The "listening to each other" part is often overlooked while people are still trying to get the basic hand-coordination and physical techniques under control (can only learn so many things at once, gotta start somewhere), but IMO the ability to properly listen is one of the most important aspects of being a competent musician.

As a person's musical ability progresses over the years, eventually it's not enough to just play the notes - those notes need to be double-checked via ear to make sure they actually sound good with what's being played by the other people in the group.


... encourage not speeding up or slowing down. If you are a solid guitar player, you may need to stay in that role or find someone else to keep the tempo solid. A group of beginners playing melody might lose that tempo. ...

Yes. Gotta be able to keep the beat. IMO, very very important. Nothing more disruptive to a jam or session than someone who messes with the tempo for no justifiable or previously-agreed-upon reason.

In time, in tune, and listening - IMO the three most important things about playing music.


... One of the best things you can do is for the smaller, rank beginner group to work on things away from the slightly more experienced slow jam but it is also good to play in that jam as well.

Agree. Exposure to more-advanced musicians seems to be almost a requisite for continuing advancement in one's playing.


Just a few thoughts:
You might want to find a copy of the 10 or twelve rules of jam etiquette available in various forms on line and have them distributed.
You need a strong leader or pair of leaders who can tactfully keep people playing together, maintain respect and stop jam hogs from taking over the circle. That can be a problem even with experienced jammers.
Going around the circle so EVERYONE gets the chance to lead songs if they wish and to solo if they wish is very important.
You want to get agreement up front on what type of material you want to play in the jam or it will degenerate to country pop and soft rock of the seventies in most areas of the North America. If that is what you want that is ok but if you don't then it has to be politely managed.
You need to decide whether you want an open or invitation only jam.
If you want to work toward playing with regular bluegrass jams you need make a goal of learning to get away from reading and not to rely on written material. It is ok to start or to learn a new song, but generally bluegrass jams are done without relying on written material.
It helps a lot keeping people together if you have a bass player.

All sounds like good advice to me. :)

Scott R
May-18-2018, 10:24am
All this advice sounds great--does anybody here have any of the slowpitchjam books? How are they set up, is it just fakebook pages of a handful of songs, or is there more to them?

Can't see any previews online, and my only option is to order one from Canada blind (which I might do).

Right now I'm waiting to hear back from one of our local jam leaders to see if they'd be interested in being hired monthly to help direct our slow jam.

Again--thanks for all the advice folks. Much appreciated :)

Jim Garber
May-18-2018, 12:11pm
ironscott: have you talked to the leaders of the beginner jam? It doesn't sound like you are in a musical desert out there. I am sure that those folks have a clue on how to get beginners up to speed.

A bluegrass songbook with lyrics might be good if that is the kind of thing these folks want to learn. If it is instrumental tunes, generally these are learned by ear. See what your group wants to do.

David L
May-18-2018, 2:52pm
Another good resource for jamming and jam etiquette is "Play Well With Others: a Musician's guide to Jamming Like a Pro" by Martha Haehl.

AndyV
May-19-2018, 3:14pm
Well, Andy, I'm old .. what's your excuse? I went to Sorrento for 25 years and sat in on a lot of those jams, it was a very rewarding time. I live too far from Vancouver so haven't seen Sue for about 5 years now. She will get ironscott on his way to a very rewarding enterprise.
Dave

I'm not young.

I've been meaning to get to the Anza Club for a year now, but it seems I always have a schedule conflict that first Monday of the month. Prior to that, 8 years of teaching karate Mondays and Wednesdays.

Did you attend any workshops with Claude Brouillette?

AndyV
May-19-2018, 10:08pm
You could just get in touch with Sue.

sue@suemalcolm.com

dadsaster
May-23-2018, 8:35pm
In Portland, Oregon there is an organization that teaches bluegrass to complete beginners. The website has 60 standard tunes with tab for the various instruments. http://www.taborgrass.com/p/music.html

AndyV
Jun-11-2018, 7:47pm
I picked up Sue Malcolm's Slow Pitch Jam Vol.1 today. Listened to the play-along CD on the way home. A good tempo I think for beginners.
I haven't had a chance to go through the book really but I think its's a good system. Learn songs from the book/CD and get together with others to jam on them.