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Thread: Leading a jam?

  1. #1
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    I found myself in a new situation the other night. I was at a jam, and turned out to be one of the stronger players there (Practice does pay off!) I'm usually one of the people who hangs back, leaves the leading to someone else, and takes a break whenever I feel like I know the tune well enough.

    I found it to be kind of hard to suggest tunes that the others could play, and to keep everyone involved, especially since my repertoire is still pretty thin. In short, I felt like I was hogging the show.

    I'd be very interested in hearing how others handle similar situations.

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    I find myself in the "jam session general"seat quite often.I don't really try to put myself there,but I've been in to many jams where everybody just sat there and waited for somebody else to play something.
    I try to get everybody involved,play a break on each song if they want to,and try to move around the circle and give everybody a chance to pick a song of their choice.In other words,I try to make a democracy out of the jam,while keeping it moving an interesting for the listener.
    Rod in Kansas

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    Yeah, that's the sort of thing I'm hoping to do. Moving around the circle systematically is a good idea.

    Any ideas on how to draw out the more timid players? I think we all remember how hard it was to break the ice when we were new.........

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    At our jam sessions, the leader goes around the cicle asking each person in the group to pick a song. He rarely lets anyone off the hook. We will even play a song again if that is the only song they are comfortable with.
    Glenn Nelson
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    "Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes and play your mandolin."

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    That's a good one. It will work well - lets each person pick a song they are comfortable with, and lets everyone else exercise a little.

    More ideas, Please!

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    I attend a regular beginner's jam which has a leader. #He keeps things moving, making sure everyone has a chance to pick out a tune, and asks who will take breaks before each tune starts (so everybody knows who to follow). #The person who calls the tune sets the pace, so he/she can play it comfortably.

    The leader also calls out chords during the tune itself. #When he takes a break, he has someone else (usually me) call out the chords, which is not as easy as it sounds.

    At the end of the night, everyone gives the leader a buck or two for his efforts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by
    We will even play a song again if that is the only song they are comfortable with
    OK. That didn't come out like it was suppose to

    What I meant is if the person called is a beginner or new to the group and they have a limited repertoire, he will get them pick a simple song like Soldiers Joy, St Annes Reel or something else we may have played already.
    Glenn Nelson
    Las Vegas, NV

    "Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes and play your mandolin."

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    Leading is harder for me on mandolin. Most people can't read the chords from watching my hands, and mandolin (or my skill) isn't as well adapted for being the main rhythm lead, although it makes a great second rhythm instrumnent. It sounds wrong to me when I try to strum it like a little guitar, which is what most people expect of a jam leader. In bluegrass jams, this isn's as much of a problem.
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