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Thread: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with others?

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    Default Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with others?

    Hello there. I am a beginning mandolin player and I was wondering what you all think are the most important skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with other musicians? I am slowly working on learning basic technique, reading notation, etc. But I think the thing that will motivate me the most to get better and practice on a regular basis is being able to play with all my musician friends. This includes any number of instruments to play along with including guitar, keyboard, drums, other mandolins, wind instruments, etc.

    I figure learning how to play in different keys will be helpful in the long run but that seems like something that will take some time for me to be comfortable with. I've been trying to learn different chords and chord progressions as well, but I'm not always sure where to insert those with other musicians that seem to be able to just play and jam with others on a whim and have a lot more experience than me. Any tips or resources? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User peterleyenaar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    Have a look at PegHead Nation beginner mandolin courses by Sharon Gilchrist,

    https://pegheadnation.com/string-sch...ning-mandolin/

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    It helps a lot if you know the genre the music is being played in and can hear the changes, so that means a lot of listening ahead of time to recorded music, Youtube videos and hearing live music. I sometimes think newer players don't understand the importance of listening in their rush to play ... and of course, a complete familiarity with your fretboard and being able to play without looking at your instrument is a huge advantage when playing ex tempore with others.
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    listening

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    Registered User robert.najlis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    I have found the the materials from improviseforreal.com very helpful.
    I have no financial interest, except that I have given him some of my money and found it to be well spent.

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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    I'll guess your mileau is maybe folk-country-Celtic with your role is the soprano voice. Learn chords and scales, of course. But as a soprano voice, you likely won't do much melodically with the low (G) string because you'd be drowned-out unless you're give a quiet space to solo across the mando's range. Use that bottom string to anchor chords. Be comfortable playing melody 'way up the neck, in 12th fret territory.

    Yes, listen. Listen to, and watch how, mandolins are played. Play along with them. Learn to 'hear' chords and changes. Slow the music down to half-speed or slower -- that's how solos are transcribed and learned. Play along. Play slow. Play slow until muscle memory kicks in, then speed up.

    And practice incessantly. Build those calluses. Old joke: An out-of-towner emerges from Grand Central Station and asks a passerby how to get to Carnegie Hall. The reply: "Practice, practice, practice."

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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    Helps to know guitar chords so you can peek at the changes. If they capo (and they always do) you can transpose that after a little bit. Ex: playing in G shape with capo on 2 = A

    I found that having a full set of goto I,IV,V, relative minor and 7 chords (3 finger with muted E was mostly what I used) helped for vocal tunes in the unfamiliar keys that guitar players (using capos) love to throw on you. First jam I went to there were more vocal tunes in B and Bb than G or D.

    Once you have a working set of these chords you can move them around to any root key to strum along

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    1. Listening is the most important; along with it, the ability to translate the things you hear/see into your own playing.

    2. Modesty and courtesy, the willingness to stay in the background, learning as you go, until you're ready to step out front.

    3. But not over-modesty -- enough self-confidence to feel that you can fit in, once prepared, at the general group level.

    4. Understanding of the type of music being played, and the mandolin's general role in that genre.

    5. Ability to accept suggestions, constructive criticism, and the general organization and ambience of the group.

    These are attitudinal skills, and say nothing about technique or proficiency. I wholeheartedly agree that the best way I've found to develop as a musician, is to play along with musicians better than I. Trying to stay out of their way, but also seeking to find my best personal way to support the group's collective musical activities.
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    Quote Originally Posted by robert.najlis View Post
    I have found the the materials from improviseforreal.com very helpful.
    I have no financial interest, except that I have given him some of my money and found it to be well spent.
    Robert this looks intriguing, but the website doesn't do a very good job of selling the service, and really could do with a sample lesson to hook potential buyers.

    But since it doesn't have that, we'll have to depend on you to tell us more about it . Please explain how it is structured, and why it works for you.

    rm

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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    Nothing helped me to learn quickly but practice, practice, practice. Band in the Box was a big help but playing with others is the most effective help.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    The Peghead Nation suggestion of Sharon Gilchrist is a good one. Listening is always number one... learning to play along with friends is a worthy goal. To do so you need to learn 1. what chords go with what keys 2. to hear when those changes happen 3. the scales and arpeggios to go along with those chord changes. Here is a place to start … most folk , blues , rock or country songs are composed around three or four chords. Those chords hold the same place if you will in each key. In the key of C those chords are C, F and G with the occasional Am , named the relative minor added..... or if you want to identify them by numbers , sometimes Roman numerals are used , I , 4 and 5 with a 6 minor or I, IV,V, VIm . The other occasionally used chore is a 2 , II , chord in either major or minor. In the key or C that would be a D or Dm chord …… So … the C major scale C D E F G A B C the chords used mostly are C,F,G,Am…... 1......4..5.6m THat's the first stepping stone R/
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    "Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with others"

    Quote Originally Posted by vonshu View Post
    wondering what ... are the most important skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with other musicians? ... being able to play with all my musician friends. This includes any number of instruments to play along with including guitar, keyboard, drums, other mandolins, wind instruments, etc.
    Based on the info you've given, you have a variety of musician friends you can play with! That is great news, and will help with your success!

    There is a practically infinite amount of material for you to assimilate and learn to play music for the rest of your life, but your question is about the quickest way to be able to play music with your friends. With that in mind, I think the logical answer is to focus on rhythm playing. Get a good chord book for reference. Get a friend or two to work with you one on one, so you can learn songs they like to play, and practice with them. Yes, listen, listen, listen. What you need to get on top of to start with is the rhythm for each song and the chord changes. That is all you need to work on in the beginning in order to play with these folk. You must learn to accompany them in a way that enhances what they are doing and does not detract from it. Start with rhythm and chord changes for the songs they play, and this will be the quickest way.
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    The best advice I ever received was to learn as many songs as I could and learn to play them in a key that didn`t use too many open strings, then you would be able to play them in just about every key, after you do that you will no longer be a "beginner" you will be ready to go on the road with a traveling band...Lol

    Keep trying. it can be fun, every thing will drop right in place one day and you will wonder why didn`t I see that in the first place...We all still learn new things every day...

    Willie

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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    Yes, to be sure, listen. As you listen, try to hear the chord changes.

    It's a big help if you know what songs are going to be played. You then can prepare by: 1. Go on youtube and bring up the first song. 2. Do a search on the song title/chords online and bring up any one of the chord charts for that song (there are generally a few sites listed; I like UltimateGuitarChord). 3. Look over the chords presented on the chord chart, and learn/practice those shapes and moving back and forth between them. 4. Click play on the youtube screen, then click over to the song's chord chart and practice playing harmony to the song. 5. During breaks, practice solo's to the melody, then return to the harmony with the recording.

    This can take many hours, but it's so much fun that you won't notice a good chunk of the day disappearing. The hardest part is practicing the movement between the chord shapes, but if you obtain a rough facility first, the music will eventually force fluidity onto your fingers. Just play and practice the same song over and over for several days and you'll get it. Then onto the next one.

    You'll have a good time, then, at the jam, assuming they play those songs in the keys you practiced them in. If it's an informal gathering of more experienced friends, they'll often defer to the novice and play in the key he/she is comfortable with.

  21. #15

    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    In a super simple , but effective way...
    Sing songs whileyou play.
    Then, do so with a friend.
    Really.

    Heres why:
    Singing is important, so do it and youll improve.
    Singing is the melody. Against this, you must keep rhythm, and,it will help you hear changes.

    Singing will demand different keys for certain songs and your voice. You will learn new chords.

    Singing is multi tasking. You must listen, play, and remember lyrics, ie know where you are going BEFORE you get there.

    Try it.

    Chose One song. Memorize the changes and lyrics.

    Repeat.

    Chord structure is the basis for soloing. Get this ingrained with singing, and you're better equipped to anchor/ lead a song while playing with others.

    Try it.

    Imho,m a player who can sing a song and chord along, in time, is far more useful at a jam, than one who cant sing, cant accompany chordally, but who can burn a 1000 notes, in a general sorta way......

    Obviously its not an either or thing.


    Singing while you play will develope some important skills, pretty painlessly. In fact, it should be a lot of fun.

    And....dont tell us you cant sing. I know, with just a little focus, everyone can learn. Like mando, the more you do it, the easier and better it becomes.

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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    If I could offer anyone just beginning the mandolin any piece of advise, it would be what I've learned from my own mistakes .... I played guitar for many years and basically knew many chord progressions, scales, etc.. I also have a pretty good ear for music (meaning "listening" as many here have already stated ... knowing and anticipating changes in progressions), and quickly picked up the FFcP on mandolin and religiously practiced this many hours daily for basically the first year, which did in fact enable me to play with just about any song that came about (even those I didn't know). My issue was that even though I could play comfortably with just about anyone, with any song, in any genre ... I would still catch myself on the songs I didn't know reverting back to playing in a "guitar like" manner ... My advise to anyone starting out would be to learn the "mandolin" basics, pick control and attack, up/down/up/down/etc., learn how the mandolin being tuned in fifths can be a great advantage in knowing where to go next (and/or how to get where you want to go), practice learning the fret board ad nauseum to the point that each fretted note comes second nature ... Most of all, enjoy the journey ... if you have fun with what you're doing, pay attention to "how" you do things that sound good to your ear ... things will begin to click and become much easier.

    Just my two cents .... enjoy the ride!!
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    Mandol'Aisne Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with othe

    Quote Originally Posted by vonshu View Post
    Hello there. I am a beginning mandolin player and I was wondering what you all think are the most important skills to learn to quickly be able to jam/play with other musicians? I am slowly working on learning basic technique, reading notation, etc. But I think the thing that will motivate me the most to get better and practice on a regular basis is being able to play with all my musician friends. This includes any number of instruments to play along with including guitar, keyboard, drums, other mandolins, wind instruments, etc.

    I figure learning how to play in different keys will be helpful in the long run but that seems like something that will take some time for me to be comfortable with. I've been trying to learn different chords and chord progressions as well, but I'm not always sure where to insert those with other musicians that seem to be able to just play and jam with others on a whim and have a lot more experience than me. Any tips or resources? Thanks!
    Hi vonshu,

    Welcome!

    There's a lot of good advice here, but I thought it helpful to restate your question.

    You would be well served to start or attend a regular jam. Regular jams often have a finite list of songs they play (though it gets longer over time). So you'll have a list of songs to learn when you start.

    Knowing the songs before hand you can concentrate on playing with people. Listen a lot, find your space in the music, if you can't hear someone play more quietly.

    If you pick a song in the jam, you should be able to lead it. This means being ale to play (and sing) though it without stopping or dropping tempo in the difficult bits. So practice any songs you want to play in the jam or your own before taking them to the jam.

    As things progress and you get comfortable with the repertoire, you'll notice that some songs are similar and you'll be able to hear those similarities. For example, "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" and "Every Time You Say Goodbye" are both in the key of A and use the same 3 chords often in the same places. Learning "Every Time You Say Goodbye" will be easier because you know "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" because you will be able to hear the changes (you'll know when to go from A to D or E because it will sound right).

    Add a little theory at this point. Knowing that in most western styles of music certain chords are used a lot in a given key is really helpful because you can then predict which chords will be in the song. Again, Key of A major = A (or I), D (or IV) and E (or V); Key of B major = B (or I), E (or IV), and F# (or V); etc.

    You asked a big question. So if the advice seems a bit general that's why. If there's something we didn't all get to, then break down what you want to know into a series of smaller questions.

    Hope that this is helpful!
    Daniel

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