First Jam

  1. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    So after almost 3 years of playing basically alone, I went to my first jam this morning. It was a well established jam in the KC area called Whiskey Just After Breakfast. 3 or 4 banjos, 4 or 5 fiddles 3 or 4 guitars a bass and 3 mandos counting me this morning. Obviously they have a well worn playlist that they play at blazing speeds. I spent a lot of the morning sitting slack-jawed as they played tunes I thought I knew, so fast that I couldn't even figure out where they were. Examples of this were Squirrel Hunting, and Whiskey Before Breakfast. But the longer a sat there the more I began to figure out where they were at, especially on songs new to me. I began to play some the correct notes on some of the songs. In fact on some of the slower songs I played most of the correct notes. This group is very much standard notation so it is a good fit for me. Also the fiddle player I sat next too so I could share her music, is apparently the keeper of the jams email list for the metro area and she says once a month she has a beginner jam.

    All in all an educational and positive experience this morning. So for those of you that haven't got to a jam yet, go for it.
  2. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Kevin, how fun! This jam is strictly bluegrass?

    I've been playing with a group since last summer. I was so nervous those first couple of times! Playing with the group has really helped my confidence and my playing. I would give one of the guitarists the lyrics to my songs and after I played the melody through once, he would sing and the rest of us would play chords. This past week I did my own singing. Never thought I would ever sing in front of other people!

    I don't mean to step on your thread! Just want you to know you have a lot to look forward to.
  3. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    jam is old time fiddle, contra dance, irish.
  4. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    all comments are welcome Sherry.
  5. Guitfiddle Mike
    Guitfiddle Mike
    Sounds like fun. I look forward to the day I get to sit in!!!!
  6. Bunnyf
    Great that you found a jam you are comfortable with. The bluegrass jam I go to strictly by ear/memory. Not a piece of paper in sight.
  7. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Kevin, that sounds like a lot of fun, and open and welcoming too. Hope you can make a habit of it!
  8. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Glad you had such fun, Kevin, and I hope you can become a regular. It's really cool that she has a newbie-specific jam group!
  9. SOMorris
    Way to go, Kevin!
  10. OneChordTrick
    A timely post! By coincidence I’m off to my first jam in a week’s time! It’s billed as a slow session where they learn a new tune at the pace of the slowest player. Hopefully they’ll be patient with me
  11. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    Second trip to the Jam (they meet 3 weeks a month). So I have reached the conclusion that fiddle players want to play everything fast as F.... This trip I played more chop chords than melody. If nothing else it is encouraging me to work on increasing my tempo and is forcing me to go back and learn a few more chords.
  12. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Good workout, Kevin!
  13. OneChordTrick
    Well I went to my first session last week anú the second, with a different group, yesterday. Both very friendly and welcoming and both billed as “slow” sessions.

    The first was the larger of the two groups, “don’t worry about getting it wrong they said, nobody will mind, if they even hear, in fact you probably won’t be able to hear yourself!”. They launched into the first tune that I thought I could play at breakneck speed and carried on that way. At the end I was managing to keep time with some chords, next time I’ll work on playing the right chords! To be fair they did say I should ask if I wanted to slow things down but I think I felt intimidated.

    When the second group was setting up one of the fiddlers ask me to play a tune that we’d been discussing. “Hmm” he said as I finished having played as fast as I could in control “we normally play that slower”. Fine by me! We started with the same tune as at the previous week, seems a fairly common warmup in this area, but at a far better pace for me. Just need to learn a different arrangement from the one I’m familiar with.

    Will definitely be back at both, probably more frequently at the second session as its 2 miles from home.
  14. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    As a measurement this morning I tapped the tempo of a jam session recording into my metronome app and it spit back 180, I then tapped the tempo that I could play it at and its spit back 140ish . So 1. I'm playing some tunes faster than I thought I was and 2. still a long ways to go.
  15. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    The important thing is we're all making progress. ☺
  16. HonketyHank
    It's nice to know just how fast "real fast" really is.
  17. Trav'linmando
    Kevin, thanks for the feedback. I am in a similar situation and have followed your journey with interest. 180???? Jeez do I have some work to do. Pretty sure that I can't pick a simple melody at 180 let alone play chords. Yep. I just looked through my fiddle tune binder. Lots of tunes in the 125-145 range. Nothing over 155.

    I guess I will be sitting in back at the slow jam for a while longer. Nonetheless, I am going to keep enjoying the time. ♫
  18. BJ O'Day
    BJ O'Day
    I have been attending a local ITM session for a couple of years. I have spent a lot of time listening instead of playing. I am keeping up on more tunes each month. I led a couple of jigs and when we finished one of the regulars said, "I've never played a jig that slow" Ouch. No ill feelings. I mostly play along and only lead one or two if there is a lull in the playing.
  19. SOMorris
    I would say ouch, too, BJ. The other person apparently never watched "Bambi" when they were growing up . Thumper was a wise little rabbit .
  20. OneChordTrick
    Ouch! That's not very supportive! Probably easier said than done but is there another session that you could join that's more learner friendly? The session that I've started attending is billed as a slow session and they will play at the pace of the slowest player.
  21. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Luck of the draw I guess, most sessions I've played in are happy to play slowly for a newbie learning a tune. I'm sure there are probably "exclusive" kinds of sessions out there but if so, they shouldn't really be "open" jam sessions.

    Thing is, an individual said that. May not speak for the group. You can find an a-hole almost anywhere. And the converse is that even really nice people can say dumb things sometimes.
  22. Bunnyf
    At my own mixed instrument, mixed genre, mixed skill-level jam, I select the songs for our playbook. This gives me some control as I select songs that are not typically played fast and nothing too tricky (no fast chord changes and not too many or too difficult chords). This makes it more inclusive for beginners. People get to pick the song they want to lead as we go around the circle.
    At the BG jam I attend, there are songs that are fast for me but since I'm just playing rythym I can usually handle it. If you are leading a song in a group like this I'd choose something that's not usually played fast, say like "Bury me beneath the willow".
  23. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    Pink Eye Lament and Pig Ankle Rag are choices that slow my jam down although last week they smoked through the rag too. Turns out they aren't terribly fast on hornpipes either
  24. BJ O'Day
    BJ O'Day
    To clear it up a bit, "I've never played a jig that slow" , was said with a chuckle. It didn't discourage me from attending. I have learned that you really have to have a tune down pat to lead it.
  25. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    I did it for the first time - took my mandolin to a bluegrass jam. It was more fun than I've had in the longest time. I had been to this jam a few times in the last few years playing guitar; hadn't visited enough to get to know most of the folk, but this time I introduced myself to the group when my turn came around, and explained that my voice was gone and that I was a bluegrass and mandolin newbie. The group is big enough that my turn came only twice, so I lead off on Whiskey Before Breakfast and on St. Anne's Reel. I messed up a lot, but kept it going OK and had fun. It was great fun trying to play bluegrass rhythm to many tunes, some I knew and most not.

    Unlike the earlier times I'd gone to this jam, quite a few folk came to me afterward and established rapport.

    I'm going to do my best to continue there each week and try to learn to play the mandolin well.

    Seems like this is the year for several of us to get going on jams! I'm pumped.
  26. HonketyHank
    Wow, Mark. Good show!
  27. Bluegrasscal_87
    I attended my first jam this morning as well! Had drive about an hour but had a wonderful time. There were about 20 of us and I was the newbie. Everyone else lived in the area and had been getting together for a while. Given the size of the group my turn came around twice and I took lead on St. Anne's Reel and Cripple Creek and actually held my own, haha. Even got up the courage to take a break during another gentleman's song when he called for a mandolin break. I walked the "stepping stones" of the pentatonic; thanks to the time spent in the "woodshed" lately. It was nothing fancy but it sure was a confidence booster when I didn't hit a sour note and even got a little "hoot" from the guy sitting next to me on guitar, haha.

    So very thankful for this encouraging group of newbies!
  28. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    So happy for everyone who's taken the jam session plunge. Sure beats playing solo!
  29. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    In the saga of first jams, aka getting out and playing with others, I attended the 2nd practice of Mandolin Orchestra of Kansas City tonight. This was my first practice. We had 2 mandolin playing mandolin 1, 3 mandolins including me playing mandolin 2, 2 mandocello's, a mandobass, and a bass. Our guitar section was absent tonight. Other than making the gal cringe every time I played an f# in the key of f, my sight reading skills were okay. This will stretch a different musical muscle than the old time jam does. It should be fun
  30. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    I'm envious, Kevin! Wish we had one of these in Dallas.
  31. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    Not sure this will work but if you have facebook the orchestra has shared a video.
  32. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Loved that video Kevin! Cool stuff to be involved in!
  33. HonketyHank
    Neato, Kevin. Looks like fun.
  34. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    I got to play a Weber Fern after the jam last night, very nice mandolin, I liked the feel of it in my hands. A guy from one of the local musical families was visiting and afterward asked to try my Collings, handing me his Weber. One of the occasional benefits of attending jams I guess. A couple years ago, I got to play a guy's Ellis out at the Pearl Bluegrass jam.

    I'm having a lot of trouble at the weekly jam here now, don't know enough repertoire, can't play anything that requires me to sing, and can't play fast enough to keep up with the really good bluegrassers when the get going. Still having fun though.
  35. Kevin Stueve
    Kevin Stueve
    I am probably going to skip the weekly old time jam this week-end as I need to work on the pieces for the mandolin orchestra. I was expected to carry the mando 2s last week as the best player was missing. I failed miserably, couldn't even count right. So practice practice practice. I'll get back to the old time jam in a couple of weeks or months
  36. soliver
    Great stuff guys!... I personally started to go to the Jams early on in my mandolinin' and just chopped along and turned down the breaks. As I continued to attend, I started to learn their regular songs and then made an effort to learn those tunes and their accompanying breaks. At this point I have gotten to where I can a take a break and either fail miserably or do OK. I've been going about 2 years now and have developed a couple of good friendships.

    The local jam here is usually broken up into a couple of different groups. 1 that is full of the guys that just don't miss a beat and are usually professionals or close to pro, and not usually beginner friendly. The other group is a mix of very talented folks, intermediates and beginners. I usually hang with that group.

    Along the way, I've gotten to play 2 different Gilchrists!
  37. Guitfiddle Mike
    Guitfiddle Mike
    I can't find anything going in or around Birmingham. I guess I'll have to try and start one...
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