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Thread: Ability to Jam

  1. #26
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Albany NY

    Default Re: Ability to Jam

    Quote Originally Posted by mbruno View Post

    1. People at jams are generally nice and want to play with others. Be nice to everyone and generally they'll be nice back. In the rare case there's a jerk in the crowd, it's been my experience they are usually a "problem" jammer anyway.
    2. Be honest about your abilities. Don't try to play like a pro, you're not - you're a student. Learn a few popular jam songs and be able to play those to a backing track at home. Play those tunes the same as you played it at home to start - same notes, same tempo etc. Don't try to improv or add the fancy stuff immediately.
    3. You're going to mess up, and that's fine. Even if you get it 100% of the time at home at double the speed - once you're at a jam with people, suddenly that can go out the window. When you mess up, try to pick it back up when you can.
    4. You don't need to take a break on every song, but you do need to make your intentions known. If you're not going to take a break, tell the person next to you ASAP - don't wait until it's your turn to skip.
    5. Find someone playing better than you and watch / listen to them closely. I always try to mimic the better players - on dobro, I fail most often - but sometimes I can get it! Ask better players questions during breaks too.
    6. Don't get drunk. Might not be a problem for you - but worth noting. I can play a decent mandolin in a pretty blacked out state (friends of mine have recordings haha) but if I have 1 beer, my dobro skills start getting questionable.
    7. Write down songs that you like and rate how you felt playing it. Learn the one's you thought were easy ASAP, then focus on the harder ones. Likely those songs will get called at the next jam - so practicing them will be a big help.
    8. Don't put yourself down and have fun. Just going to your first jam to participate is a huge step that many don't take. Feel good about going. Feel humbled by better players. Feel like you need to practice (I also do after a good jam). But never feel bad about how you played at a jam. Sounds dumb maybe, but attitude is a big part of playing. If you feel like you suck or you don't belong - likely you'll play like that too.

    Go forth. Jam. Make friends. Screw up. Enjoy life.
    These are great, but #1 is is usually the clincher, if you go to a jam and the people are rude or impatient (I have been there) it can really take the wind out of your sails, or inadvertently drive you to work harder and show them what you got (when you are ready), so finding a nice jam or group of people that will help you "grow" musically is a gem to find. I think most of us who have "stuck with it" have that or at least had it in the beginning, humility being a key ingredient.
    in most jams just chopping quietly in the background and not taking any breaks is not only accepted but invited(that is at the good jams).
    Accepting that you are going to mess up is something Jake Joliff talked about at Mano Camp North as the first step to improving your playing.
    Don't get drunk, probably good advice, but on the other nothing wrong with having a beer or 9 at a jam.
    Don't put yourself down - hey - you could be home binging Netflix or something, instead you are out actually attempting to do something that requires commitment and determination, your are living life!
    So you went to the first jam and realized you have a lot to learn, but you'll be going back and working on skills in the mean time, that sounds like you are off to a great start.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  2. The following members say thank you to tmsweeney for this post:

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