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Thread: Don't be nervous

  1. #26
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    That's a good point about keeping the tradition open to new blood, although this doesn't mean every session has to be a teaching session for newbies. A high level session can serve as example and inspiration too. It shows the music is open to skilled amateur players, you don't have to be a pro musician to have fun with it.
    Basically I agree with you, foldedpath. I think there's a place for an "elite" jam. I'm not a sophisticated musician, but I don't want to spend a great deal of time playing with absolute beginners, and I'm sure better musicians feel the same way about playing with me. Still, I'd ask that good musicians ask how they can support others who aren't yet at their level.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  2. #27
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    Embrace how much you suck and don't worry about it. We've all been there.
    This sums it up. Making peace with cordless bungee jumping is the key for making an impression.
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  3. #28
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    The jam I go to most because of certain siturations last 2hours. If there is a newer musician there and he gets a time in the "spotlight" it is ten minutes or less. Y'all have been talking like these newbies rule the whole jam, and in that case I'd agree that they should not be there but I'll give ten minutes out of two hours to encourage a musician with less " skill" than me. It was certainly done for me years ago when I was that less skilled musician.

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  5. #29

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Similar dynamic at open mics, but there everyone gets equal time. The problem we have is there are a core of older, ok geezer like, musicians who are band veterans and pretty darned competent. We go out of our way to make everyone feel welcome, but I know over the course of the last several years the overall quality has risen, and I see fewer new neophytes returning despite the warm reception. I hate that they might feel intimidated. Open mics exist to nurture new players, at least they should.

    There is an open mic close to home that is run by the bar owner. If you are his friend, you might get a half hour, if not an apology and we'll try to get you on next week. I'm sure jams run the gamut too.
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  6. #30

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    That's a good point about keeping the tradition open to new blood, although this doesn't mean every session has to be a teaching session for newbies. A high level session can serve as example and inspiration too. It shows the music is open to skilled amateur players, you don't have to be a pro musician to have fun with it.
    This is how the old-time jam that I go to has worked. They don't have any teaching time. Everything is played at our usual speed, which admittedly isn't as fast as professionals play. Still a danceable pace. We just expect the newcomers to play along even if they can't do it. They should try. Nobody will be able to hear the mistakes and if they can hear them, they won't care if you're making an honest effort. We have banjos, loud guitars and a hammer dulcimer for crying out loud, plus so many fiddles it all runs together as something they call "fiddle butter." So we encourage people to at least try. If all you can do is find the root note of each chord change, you're about 1/4 of the way there already. Another thing we do is we don't pooh-pooh the classics. the classics are classics because they're good tunes. And if we play them, it makes it easier for newcomers to join, for newbies to try to pick out a few notes they couldn't get the last time around, and for the old-timers to try some variations or something to spice it up.

    We tend to play some difficult stuff early on, then when the usual crowd shows up, we switch to the standard stuff. If we were playing in some weird key, we'll switch to a normal one. Then once the crowd thins, we'll go back to the hard stuff and weird keys again.

  7. #31

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    I think it requires humility on both parts. Seasoned players need to be compassionate and supportive of new players but new players need to learn to recognize their limits. It is important to try jamming and get in over your head, that is how most of us started, but I think a player needs to recognize when things are way over their head and not have the expectation that everyone is going to slow down and change what they are playing to meet that 1 person's needs. There are several folks that play around town that are professionals and i am sure they get involved in past faced high level jams where a newbie would really not be welcome, but at the same time they teach or facilitate beginner jams and may also go to some beginner-intermediate jams around town. So to say that people are jerks because they have a certain bar set for one particular jam may be a little bit of a conclusion jump. As others have said, go check it out, introduce yourself to some folks and tell them where you are at. They may have some ideas of jams or they may say this isn't that tough come back with your mandolin and I can give you some pointers on some easier songs. You never know.

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  9. #32
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Levine View Post
    I think it requires humility on both parts. Seasoned players need to be compassionate and supportive of new players but new players need to learn to recognize their limits.
    That's what I thought when the spectre of newbies taking over the session was raised as a possible reason for an exclusive jam. How common is this scenario really? I can only say that I've never seen it happen. In fact, being newbies, most newbies need encouragement to play anything at all, far from being in any danger of dominating the session.

    So, yes, there are reasons for expert jams. Experts want to have fun and stretch themselves too. But if I saw a dismissive message like the one posted earlier in this thread, I'd probably not consider it a group worth joining in the first place.

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  11. #33
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    How common is this scenario really? I can only say that I've never seen it happen.
    It is not very common, but I have seen it happen.
    An Irish session can shoulder one, say, guitar player who is expert on his instrument but newbie to ITM, experimenting with wrong chords most of the time and singing his Indie-Pop or CSNY stuff in between tunesets albeit out of tune. But when suddenly three or more of the kind turn up together, a growing number of the ITM players stay away until the place is not even mentioned any more in ITM circles.
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  12. #34
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Nervous ?????? Nervous in playing in front of others ???????? No way !!! But---- I hate to admit this but in the early days of playing in front of people ( even a nursing home audience) I carried a small bottle of wine in my music bag ! When no one was looking I did partake in this nerve ridding medicine ! Finally I was caught and chewed out by our only lady ( that I called mom) in our group and I eliminated this vice ! Thank God this vice is a thing of the past ! I never play completely nervous free even now but I don't need my Merlot !
    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 !

  13. #35
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    That's what I thought when the spectre of newbies taking over the session was raised as a possible reason for an exclusive jam. How common is this scenario really? I can only say that I've never seen it happen. In fact, being newbies, most newbies need encouragement to play anything at all, far from being in any danger of dominating the session.
    It isn't necessarily newbies we're talking about here. It could be accomplished players from another tradition who aren't using their ears, are clueless about the style, and don't realize they're wrecking the jam. I've seen that happen a few times at local Scottish and Irish trad sessions. Even beginners can sometimes have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement to play, regardless of their ability.

    So, yes, there are reasons for expert jams. Experts want to have fun and stretch themselves too. But if I saw a dismissive message like the one posted earlier in this thread, I'd probably not consider it a group worth joining in the first place.
    Well, like I said earlier, I'll bet there's some history behind that message. They don't have to spell out "We need to put it this way because we've had our session wrecked a few times" when you can read between the lines.

  14. #36
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Well, like I said earlier, I'll bet there's some history behind that message. They don't have to spell out "We need to put it this way because we've had our session wrecked a few times" when you can read between the lines.
    I read your earlier post, and I agree that there must be some history behind it. Still, I find that the tone and sentiment of the message border on the condescending. Cultural differences, perhaps. I don't think I'd like to be part of that group even if I were a much better player.

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  16. #37

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    That's what I thought when the spectre of newbies taking over the session was raised as a possible reason for an exclusive jam. How common is this scenario really?
    I've seen it happen pretty often, actually. But like I said I'm kind of surprised they have an open advertisement for a more advanced jam. Usually the modus operandi is to invite more advanced players to a smaller, more private session.

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  18. #38

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    And sometimes it's not so much a matter of being "better" as being into the music that forms the original basis of the jam. If a newer player spends more time actually listening to and studying old time, bluegrass, blues, jazz, etc., they'll fit in better with those jams.

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  20. #39
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    I recently got up the gumption to attend a local weekly session that I'd been invited to about a year ago. This group plays most Saturday mornings for three hours. They've been playing about 10 years and mostly play for fun, but do play a "bluegrass Sunday" for a local church a few times each year. The group has an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, an electric bass, and a banjo. I showed up with my mando and they were quite welcoming. They are working on about 30 songs, everything from "In the Pines" to the relatively modern country song "Wagon Wheel." The great thing is that I can just play rhythm (as simple or involved as I might wish), or I can pick out some runs or brief solos here and there or throw in some tremolo parts. Whatever! They play for the joy of it and are excited to have a mandolin player!

    SO, casual music groups are another option for playing. It doesn't need to be a jam, but can be a country or gospel or even rock group that plays together regularly. This kind of group is great for focusing on a reasonably small repertoire of songs and learning them inside and out, for rhythm, for fills, for intros and ending, for leads, whatever. I've attended three sessions so far and it has been a great experience for me as a mando player and as a musician.
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  22. #40
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Be advised.....we are totally arrogant and horribly impatient with anyone less than stellar. If you don't make your living playing, then please sit down and know your place. This jam is for aisels!

    Yeah that sounds like California. They get the music, but not the ethos. All too common in my experience.

    Now if I could meet some people like the OP mentioned above, I would most certainly count myself blessed. And as much as I admire the sincerity of the OP, his assessment of jam friendliness is awesome but quite rare out this way.

    It just goes to show that the ethos of bluegrass is really what the culture is about. The business is just business.

    Blessings

  23. #41

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    That's what I thought when the spectre of newbies taking over the session was raised as a possible reason for an exclusive jam. How common is this scenario really? I can only say that I've never seen it happen. In fact, being newbies, most newbies need encouragement to play anything at all, far from being in any danger of dominating the session.
    At our jam we do have exclusive gigs and sessions and it's not to get away from newbies, it's more to play with the people we like to play with. I'm not invited to them all but I am invited to some.

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyMadd View Post
    Be advised.....we are totally arrogant and horribly impatient with anyone less than stellar. If you don't make your living playing, then please sit down and know your place. This jam is for aisels!

    Yeah that sounds like California. They get the music, but not the ethos. All too common in my experience.

    Now if I could meet some people like the OP mentioned above, I would most certainly count myself blessed. And as much as I admire the sincerity of the OP, his assessment of jam friendliness is awesome but quite rare out this way.

    It just goes to show that the ethos of bluegrass is really what the culture is about. The business is just business.

    Blessings
    I'm the OP and I am in/of/from/born-and-raised Southern California. The Internet seems to have a lot of disinformation about how awful California and Californians are, but we are just like everywhere else, plus we are like the America of America, the place everybody immigrated to when they left their other states. Our jam is welcoming and if you're ever in Santa Barbara and want to play some old time music, stop by. Our website is glendessaryjam.com.

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  25. #42
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    I'm the OP and I am in/of/from/born-and-raised Southern California. The Internet seems to have a lot of disinformation about how awful California and Californians are, but we are just like everywhere else, plus we are like the America of America, the place everybody immigrated to when they left their other states. Our jam is welcoming and if you're ever in Santa Barbara and want to play some old time music, stop by. Our website is glendessaryjam.com.
    I know a bunch of California "expats" because up here in the Pacific Northwest/Seattle area is where many Californians move when they retire, or seek job opportunities out of state. We're the place everybody immigrated to when they left other states for California, and then left California for greener (and wetter) pastures.


    Anyway, not much to add except to say that out here on the Pacific NW coast it's a mix of beginner, intermediate, and high-end jams, mostly friendly and in all sorts of musical styles, and it's just a question of figuring out where you fit in.

    Thanks for starting the thread. The main thing is to get out of your house and play with others! That's essential to growth as a musician, and it's a blast when you find the right people to play with.

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  27. #43

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    I know a bunch of California "expats" because up here in the Pacific Northwest/Seattle area is where many Californians move when they retire, or seek job opportunities out of state. We're the place everybody immigrated to when they left other states for California, and then left California for greener (and wetter) pastures.


    Anyway, not much to add except to say that out here on the Pacific NW coast it's a mix of beginner, intermediate, and high-end jams, mostly friendly and in all sorts of musical styles, and it's just a question of figuring out where you fit in.

    Thanks for starting the thread. The main thing is to get out of your house and play with others! That's essential to growth as a musician, and it's a blast when you find the right people to play with.
    Yeah, and you have Fiddle Tunes, Centralia and the Canotes brothers. Everywhere is great when there's fiddle music.

  28. #44

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    We are all here for the music. I run a beginner friendly intermediate level Irish session. To play Irish music you need to know something about Irish music. I welcome beginners but they must first listen and and learn the tunes and about Irish music.
    I suggest recording the tunes. Go home and practice, learn a tune or two and come back ready to start the tune and play it through.It doesn’t have to be fast. We are all students at each level. If you are a beginner it will help if you make the committment to learn and improve and stick with it. I support folks who show they are working on tunes at home and bring them to the session. I’m not looking for perfection, just work. To merely show up and expect to join in with no practice or knowledge will hurt the music for the rest of the musicians. When I started I knew no tunes. I spent many a session not playing but recording and listening, and many hours trying to learn tunes and I continue to do a this still.

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  30. #45
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    I have been to a few low end "sessions" but attended my first BG jam yesterday. I've been to this jam once before but didn't get my mandolin out, it being the first time there, and it was a fairly large group with some very hot pickers. Yesterday, I went again and the jam broke into two different rooms because of the large number of people there, thus the circles were not so big. So, I played !!!!! Again, there were some really talented pickers (e.g., three members of talented BG band I like) but others less talented, like myself, but everyone found a place. Fortunately, the tunes themselves were fairly easy and the key was always shouted out. I hung in the background but that worked for me. People filtered in and out of the two rooms, which was fun because the lineups changed. It was a welcoming crowd of men and women, young and old, expert and not so, and I had a blast.
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by mtm View Post
    I have been to a few low end "sessions" but attended my first BG jam yesterday. I've been to this jam once before but didn't get my mandolin out, it being the first time there, and it was a fairly large group with some very hot pickers. Yesterday, I went again and the jam broke into two different rooms because of the large number of people there, thus the circles were not so big. So, I played !!!!! Again, there were some really talented pickers (e.g., three members of talented BG band I like) but others less talented, like myself, but everyone found a place. Fortunately, the tunes themselves were fairly easy and the key was always shouted out. I hung in the background but that worked for me. People filtered in and out of the two rooms, which was fun because the lineups changed. It was a welcoming crowd of men and women, young and old, expert and not so, and I had a blast.
    That's the way a jam should work. Everyone should have fun, it not what are we jamming for?

  33. #47
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    It is not very common, but I have seen it happen.
    Yes it does from time to time. And there are a few invitational only jams i know of.

    Play nice. Play well with others. Duh.
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  34. #48

    Default Re: Don't be nervous

    Finding a musical situation as a geezer is hard. I was in a very good classic rock veering into jazz band with the same lineup for decades. I'm used to winging it and nailing a great rendition of a song first time out. I played bass and was probably the weakest player, but I can sing all the high harmonies. That fell apart as retirement hit and guys moved away. I was ready for new musical horizons anyway and though we were very good there was no avenue for my songwriting as the lead guitar player was a control freak, but I always had a good time.

    Fast forward and I began to play solo mostly original material. Then I took up mandolin. I've gone to a few jams but they aren't my thing. People were having a great time, but I'm used to rehearsing regularly and being a really tight unit. Working out three and four part harmonies is exacting. I'm in the better than most casual players, not pro level. I'll woodshead and have a part down by next week. I could be in a band on bass in a heartbeat but don't want to.

    There are a few really good fiddlers around, but they look at me like I'm nuts (they could be right) when I ask them if they'd ever consider working out a grassed up version of Purple Haze. They want to play unison version of Arkansaw Traveller at 125 bpm.


    I'm an old dog looking for new tricks. Haven't found a dog park yet, but going to do a duo thing with a very different musical guy. It will be interesting. But you need to get out and make whatever path you want to take happen.

    And yes I'm another Californian listening to everyone I know who moved complain about the weather, except the Canadian who thinks 48 degrees and rain is balmy weather.
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