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Thread: If you jam . . . .

  1. #26

    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    I was thinking, if you’re in a group of senior guitarists maybe there’s plenty of harmony already.
    With that age group hearing and therefore rhythm could be a issue at times, but with a mandolin it’s perfect for tightening the timing up -everyone will hear solid arpeggios in the higher range.
    It’s like, how about playing the mando musically like a bass eg. play alternating bass, 1,5 then 2,6 etc. and arpeggios like that?

    Doesn’t Grisman play a bit like that when things get very muddy/chord/guitary?

    Have fun!

  2. #27

    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    I hope to one day play with more sophisticated players and am trying to prepare myself now.
    Honestly, I'd rather be focusing on double stops and improvisation, both of which would enhance my enjoyment, than beating myself up over the 3 finger chords. On the other hand, I feel I shouldn't abandon them altogether.
    You are correct when you say you should not abandon them altogether. Perhaps you are not quite ready yet. When they come to you, all of a sudden one day you will say to yourself gee that is not all that difficult and you will wonder what all the fuss was about. Tremolo was like that for me. For a long time I thought this is just impossible then found some video instruction that got me through the wall. I stepped away a couple of times but came back to it.

    When someone asked him what they should be practicing, the guitarist David Grier said "What do you suck at? That is what you should be practicing."

    Think about your goal of playing with more sophisticated players. They are always pushing themselves and to play with them you have to also. It can be uncomfortable and you are never sure if you are good enough. It is ok to step back from something for a while if you are having difficulty. But abandoning a technique altogether, especially one as basic as three and four finger chords is not the way to get better. Ask yourself, if you spent a lot of time and effort to get yourself to a high level, would you feel good about playing with someone who said "Oh I'm not going to do that. It is just too hard" then gave up.

  3. #28
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    double post
    Indulge responsibly!

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  4. #29
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    I think we really need to distinguish between a jam, and a performance ensemble.

    The distinction I make is that the primary purpose of participants in a jam is and aught to be: playing music with other people. That a jam may at times have an audience doesn't change this purpose.

    As opposed to the primary purpose of a pick up band, or a small performance ensemble, which is to work together as a group to create the best possible experience for the audience. That we might be the same people who jam together and are now performing at the nursing home, playing perhaps the same tunes we jam with, is irrelevant. We are there for the audience.

    What I let bother me in a jam is very different from what i let bother me in a performance.
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  5. #30
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Up until a couple of years ago I played in a jam at the senior center. All those guitarists were so glad to have a different instrument in the mix, they wouldn't have cared if I'd played with one hand tied behind my back. I hope to one day play with more sophisticated players and am trying to prepare myself now.
    I just realized how rude this sounds! For those who might care, I'm not that person! I loved playing at the senior center, but decided I needed to cut back on my schedule. By "more sophisticated players," I think what I really mean is that I'd like to not embarrass myself around other mandolin players.

  6. #31
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    I don't care what chords you play provided you play in time, in key, and with heart.
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  7. #32

    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    A few years ago I tried playing with a couple of guys at church. Both of them had guitars. One of the guys just simply could not play chords in time so when the other guy moved away, I quit doing that. My wife grew up playing in her high school marching band and she says if you play in a marching band, you WILL learn to play in time.

    Personally, I like two finger chords because they sound so nice on my mandolin. i work on three and four finger chords also, but still can't make the progressions fast enough for most songs I try. Thank goodness for two finger chords !

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  9. #33
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    OK, so no one seems to be offended by 2 finger chords. Does the same go for music stands? Honestly, based on a music camp experience a couple of years ago, I just don't see myself memorizing pieces. I spent months trying to do that in preparation for jams at the camp and ended up close to tears because I just couldn't pull it off.

  10. #34

    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Just a moment. Most of the songs and tunes one will face in a jam have only two orthree chords. The root, the 4th(IV), and the 5th(V). Hundreds of songs/tunes. IOW, if you know the key, the first change is either to the 4th or 5th. (a 50/50 guess)
    So if you need to remember lyrics, or specific melodies, maybe a cheat sheet is okay. But i see no reason to need a cheat sheet for each song/tune's chord progression. Simply know the root, 4th and 5th chord in G, D, A, C, and E keys. The rest of the keys and chords, like minors, will come eventually.

  11. #35
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    I took a mandolin workshop with Roland White once. He was critical of only doing chop chords, even for Bluegrass. He felt it got boring and was unimaginative. He showed us all kinds of variations to spice things up. Most of my jamming has been around Old-Time and for that some people get out of joint if you do any chopping at all. The one thing I was advised by a mandolin instructor is if you are doing two finger chords, still stay with the same boom-chuck pattern the guitars are using rather than a straight up and down pattern and go lightly on the treble strings. They can sound, but they get shrill if they sound too loudly.

    As for music stands, it depends on the jam. If you are singing lyrics, a stand is almost a must. I can hear 1-4-5 chord changes, but remembering multiple verses of lyrics for a couple hundred tunes is tough. Also, I go to jams where a lot of tunes are not simple 1-4-5 and some of the tunes I have not even heard before. Some of these jams have a jam-prescribed book they use. If they have that, it's good to use it. At some other jams, that is not the norm, I do what everyone else does. So it's a "when in Rome, do what the Romans do" kind of thing.

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  13. #36
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Sorry. I should have been clear that my question referred to when I have the lead. Otherwise, I can pretty well hear the chord changes and might even guess the correct chord to play.

  14. #37
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Depends on the jam and it’s particular etiquette. I’ve been to some BG jams where stands are Heavily frowned upon, but I still have 1 jam where one fellow always brings a stand and it’s fine. I have gone to swing jams where everyone has a stand with chart, including me. I certainly couldn’t remember the changes to most tunes and would have no hope on a tune with multiple key centers.

    So, it varies.

    But be comfortable. Not every jam is for everyone at every place in their playing journey.
    Play it like you mean it

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  16. #38
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    I'd say you're fine. Play on!

    In an old-time jam, I sort of don't like music stands. I disrupts spontaneity do some degree. I also like the setting of learning by ear. I have no say in the matter, and many fine folks I know use them.

    My mantra, "On the journey to excellence, enjoy mediocrity!"

    Keep learning!

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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Sherry:

    Back in post # 17, you mentioned that your fingertips get tender from playing. Have you checked the action on your mandolin? Could it be set too high? Another suggestion is to try low tension strings or light gauge strings. That might help ease the tenderness you are experiencing.

  18. #40
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
    Sherry:

    Back in post # 17, you mentioned that your fingertips get tender from playing. Have you checked the action on your mandolin? Could it be set too high? Another suggestion is to try low tension strings or light gauge strings. That might help ease the tenderness you are experiencing.
    Lucas, thanks for pointing that out. A couple of "pros" on the Cafe, as well as a local teacher, have checked my action and all say it's fine. I think my strings are fairly light. I'm aware I press too hard and am working on developing a lighter touch.

    There are days I wish I had taken up something easy like brain surgery, rather than learning to play a musical instrument late in life. You guys make it look so effortless, yet there's so much to think about at one time! After 5 years I figured I'd be ready to go on the road. What a joke!

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  20. #41
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    If you play in a "friendly" jam, are you put off by mandolinists who primarily play 2 finger chords?
    No, sometimes that would be me.
    Not always, but sometimes.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

  21. #42

    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    You should jam with people you feel comfortable with and can be friends with in a way you feel comfortable. Meaning if you like two finger chords and music stands you should find other people who like that and play like that. And be happy. There is a lot more to be said for playing with friends than any particular skill level.

    That being said, do not expect to walk into an upper intermediate or pro jam, pull out your stand, play two finger chords, fit right in and have everyone be happy. Most of those jams are somewhat invitational or the people all know each other. Some of those jams I have had people freeze me out or try to play over my head with speed or complicated songs. In a few cases they became pretty friendly when I finally learned how to keep up. After a lot of embarrassing crash and burns.

    And realize that if you absolutely depend on sheet music it is more than very likely you are not able to keep time as you reference the sheet music through the hard parts. I realize top pro and classical players do play off sheet music but they make fully sure they are keeping time when they do. Most amateur players don't. That really sucks in a jam let alone a performance. Ask me how I know.

    Some of my favorite singer friends to play with do keep a song book for lyrics mainly. I have a really funny story about a singer and how she (didn't) have her song book organized but it is inappropriate for a family friendly forum. For myself I found that if I depend on a book for lyrics my performance suffers. A few times I tried a lyric sheet for new songs the audience response told me it did was not working. Since then I have made it a point to memorize songs though occasionally I have had to mumble or invent lyrics on the fly.

    Your playing will progress with enough time. It does not happen on the schedule we wish it would. When you are ready you will naturally gravitate to different places or the people you play with will grow along with you. Have fun first and last.

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  23. #43
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I'm aware I press too hard and am working on developing a lighter touch.
    Sherry, I find the better I know the tune or feel comfortable in a lead the lighter I play. A new tune or something I am not as familiar with has me playing harder. That may be the finger pain. Consciously thinking of a lighter touch and practicing it is good, but when nerves kick in everything else is out the window. It will come, just keep at it.
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  25. #44
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    As an extreme case, there was a banjo player
    Yes, I've had a similar experience.
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  27. #45
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    I love and play BG almost exclusively and I seldom use 4finger chords, two and three since my 67 year old fingers are getting stiff. Like Jethro I can get bored playing all chops and it is not needed unless maybe in a hard driving hardcore BG song

  28. #46
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    No problem at all. In fact, I still jam and perform playing 2 finger chords. Not on everything, but for G and C, yup. It's the way my mentor/teacher plays and I do the same thing.

    Then again, I don't play bluegrass and don't try to sound like a bluegrass player. And it doesn't bother me if others are playing 2 finger chords. Whatever works for them.
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  30. #47

    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    There are days I wish I had taken up something easy like brain surgery, rather than learning to play a musical instrument late in life. You guys make it look so effortless, yet there's so much to think about at one time! After 5 years I figured I'd be ready to go on the road. What a joke!
    You and me both, Sherry!

  31. #48

    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck View Post
    Of all things someone could do to annoy me, playing two finger cords in time and with the feel of the song is VERY low on the list. :-)
    No kidding. Even the wrong notes with good time and feel are preferably to lousy time and no pocket.

  32. #49
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by SOMorris View Post
    You and me both, Sherry!
    Thanks for this, Spencer (right?). After all, misery does love company!

  33. #50
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: If you jam . . . .

    My friendly Jam of very few people, I'm the one using double stops and harmonizing the melody line..

    It's not a group with Bluegrass purity enforcement..


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