First Jam


#1

So how did some of you evaluate when you were ready to go sit in on a jam for the first time?

I don’t have any illusions of grandeur, I probably can’t rip any smokin’ hot solos, but I do want to be able to soak it in, keep a steady backup rhythm and go home with my tail NOT tucked between my legs.

I’m pretty confident with rolls and chords, and am working on Ben’s backup series for a little added spice. By the way, I like the way that was arranged Ben, nice touch on the alternating chord formations and the licks.


#3

If you can keep up with tracks I say go for it (LOL I almost said albums). Get in the pocket and soak up the experience.


#4

heading to my first one this coming tuesday …cant wait!


#5

question, at what point do you know your ready for a jam? and how good do you need to be? I have been invited several times but I skeered to death to actually go in fear of feeling like a complete idiot. and also if you go im guessing you need to already know the cord progressions before you walk in or is there some trick to figure them out already/


#6

I figure if a person has some manners and a little common sense, they’re ready to jam almost immediately.

There is no way you’ll know every chord progression before you go, so just pick a guitar player who seems to know what they’re doing and follow them. If a guitar player called the song, that’s the guy to watch. Most bluegrass chord progressions are pretty simple, so you’ll probably be able to mostly figure them out by the end of the song. If there’s something you can’t figure out lay back, or stop playing altogether, and ask they guy next to you what was going on after the song is over.

If you’re like me, you are going to make an idiot of yourself at some point. More than once I’ve blasted into several measures of a song before realizing I was capoed on the wrong fret. Last week I crashed and burned on a song I called. The only thing you can do is make light of it. It’s way better to go in with a little humility, anyway. If you’re just trying to show everybody up, no one’s going to like picking with you no matter how good you are.


#7

good advice Larry …as you know from my previous posts on the subject …gonna fit in where i can and listen where i cant …and most definitely probably make a "humble idiot " of myself a few times but im going in with an open mind and a willingness to learn …which i desperately need to do …cant wait til this tuesday night …


#8

i think it’s very important to get to the jam asap,no instrument reqd really!! it’s all about meeting like minded people to begin with, i remember taking a little note book and jotting down some of the songs etc (good idea for you too Ron) and the keys they where played in, so as to practice them between jam sessions, most jams have quite a few of the standards and are usually sung by the same guy/gal so write down the key and practice back up to them. “mikes mute”, ok, so i have what i think is a killer idea for beginner banjo players, why not invest in “mikes mute” a great mute (i have one) this way you can “ease” youself into the jam,and mistakes etc wont be so obvious. slowly as you become a better player you can release the pressure on the mute until a time comes when you wont need it at all!! i hope this helps.

Ron
check out “mikes mute” on you tube. i have no affiliation with mike or his mute :smiley:


#9

— Begin quote from “ldpayton”

I figure if a person has some manners and a little common sense, they’re ready to jam almost immediately.

— End quote

I think Larry is right on target. When I have gotten together to play with people in an informal jam, I have never seen anyone getting the stink eye because of a lack of experience. If you have a good attitude, I predict all will go well.
I say that, but I was looking for Jams in my area and there was something like a “members only music performance critique club” north of Dallas. I suspect they might be a little critical, but I don’t plan to go there anyway. It doesn’t exactly sound like a fun time.
As I was typing this, Ron B’s post just came in. PLEASE don’t let my wife find out about the mike mute.


#10

I’m just back from my Saturday night jam and I still got the post-jam adrenaline buzz going. The jams always seem to end just about the time I"m ready to crack open a bottle and get serious about playing. Guess I’ll just thrash away on my guitar here by myself until I can get to sleep.


#11

Larry, I work for a company who has a plant in Valdosta,Ga. One of these days when I’m on a run trough your area I would like to get together. I hope its on a saturday night too.


#12

That would be cool, Jim. Valdosta is only about 45 miles away from our home and only about 30 miles away from my Saturday night jam spot. If you come on the third Saturday of the month, you’ll get fed at the jam, too. I couldn’t believe how much food them little old ladies whipped up last night. Lots of good southern cookin’.


#13

I am heading to a grad party/jam for the next two days and nights. I am certainly not ready to keep a spotlight with the caliber of better musicians I know will be there, but I will find some that I can pick with and plan on totally coming home with my tail tucked!

I think it’s a good thing to have my rear handed to me every once in a while; it lets me get a much better idea of what I lack in my playing and what I have to put more effort into when I practice. Plus there is no substitute for picking with other people!

The last jam I went to a friend turned around and said something like “your trying to play low roll back-up. Nobody can do that in this State but Wes, he owns that sound around here.” Well, pooh! That would be his opinion and I was just trying to hold a steady roll in the chord at the time anyway.

I was glad he made the comment for a couple reasons. One, his comment brought out the fact to me that I needed more work on playing up the neck for variety, and Two, i needed more work on what I was doing at the time.

Gosh, I guess my last jam taught me I needed work on about everything…I’m cool with that…I will only have been playing for for a year come this Sept. and I’ve made better progress on the 5 than I thought I would have so far. I’m sure I’ll get a few compliments and a few snide remarks this weekend as well. It’s all good and I take it all with a grain of salt. I’m planning on coming home with a couple new licks. And if someone mentions that what I’m playing isn’t what they think it should be, I’m happy to have them sit down and show me a better way to get through the song…hehe


#14

— Begin quote from “fiddlewood”

I am heading to a grad party/jam for the next two days and nights. I am certainly not ready to keep a spotlight with the caliber of better musicians I know will be there, but I will find some that I can pick with and plan on totally coming home with my tail tucked!

I think it’s a good thing to have my rear handed to me every once in a while; it lets me get a much better idea of what I lack in my playing and what I have to put more effort into when I practice. Plus there is no substitute for picking with other people!

The last jam I went to a friend turned around and said something like “your trying to play low roll back-up. Nobody can do that in this State but Wes, he owns that sound around here.” Well, pooh! That would be his opinion and I was just trying to hold a steady roll in the chord at the time anyway.

I was glad he made the comment for a couple reasons. One, his comment brought out the fact to me that I needed more work on playing up the neck for variety, and Two, i needed more work on what I was doing at the time.

Gosh, I guess my last jam taught me I needed work on about everything…I’m cool with that…I will only have been playing for for a year come this Sept. and I’ve made better progress on the 5 than I thought I would have so far. I’m sure I’ll get a few compliments and a few snide remarks this weekend as well. It’s all good and I take it all with a grain of salt. I’m planning on coming home with a couple new licks. And if someone mentions that what I’m playing isn’t what they think it should be, I’m happy to have them sit down and show me a better way to get through the song…hehe

— End quote

Sounds good, I’m sure you’ll have fun! And better yet, you’ll learn a lot and get better. I still haven’t gotten in on a jam…partly because I don’t know of any, partly because I haven’t had time, and partly because I’m scared! :blush:

Let us know how it goes and have a safe trip.


#15

Here’s a link for you to check out. I’m sure they can tell you of anything in your area. As I and others have mentioned several places on this forum, playing with others can be a great teacher and improve your learning pace immensely.

facebook.com/pages/Alabama- … 0881963369


#16

well I went to my first jam but left the ol banjo at home(baby steps). But it made me really want to be able to join them one day. but my question is how do you figure out the pattern of chord changes? I understand keys but is there a simple way to figure out what follows what chord it a certian song? I think the next time I go they dont want me on the side lines. they all say you need to play with other people to get better, But I need to be able to play without tab first.


#17

Burton,
Great question! Here are some strategies in a jam: Ask the other musicians, learn to recognize what chords look like on a guitar (they are quite different looking and easy to spot), listen for clues (runs) from the bass or guitar. If all else fails match the first note of the measure with the note the bass is playing on your instrument and that is normally the name of the chord.

I think you missed out on a great opportunity to learn some chord progressions by leaving your banjo home. When you are learning there is nothing wrong with quietly vamping chords to what the group is playing. Most of the time spent playing is spent playing back-up to others or vamping chords (depending on ones level of musicianship). It only seems prudent to put as much or more time in practicing/ learning chord progressions as we do trying to play impressive leads.

I normally learn the chord progression to a song before ever attempting any lead or back-up. It is essential to understand the chord pattern (as you are learning) to understand the song…so work on that first when you pick a song to learn.

After some time playing you will begin to recognize many of the changes by ear and may only have to ask when a less-used chord is included.

Hope this helps some.

Dave


#18

Burton:

There is no easy way to learn the chord change outside of hearing it; I’ll elaborate on that:

A Bass player should give you runs into the next chord, you should “hear” where it is going. It mostly likely will be a 4 note run with the 4th note being the the next chord.
A good guitar player or mando player will recognize that some folks may not be familiar with the progression and with play 7th chords to get you to your next chord.

Every decent player should understand how important a 7 is. A song may not call for a 7th but will show others where it’s going and typically fits. So if you see others that do not know the progression and you are in say “G” and are heading to C then show that G7 chord and that should tell them/let their ear here that you are going to C next. The 7th chords in bluegrass are “passing chords” passing in a sense that “we are getting ready to switch chords so I will show the 7th of the chord I am in right now on my way to the next chord there”. Grace notes of 1/2 tone below the tone of the major are nice also. They are only there shortly but but should lead you into the next chord if you understand that that what a grace note is.

If I can not hear the bass line or the bass player is not leading a run into the next chord then I can typically hear it in the singers voice.

If you are new to the jam but soon realize that the main guitar player has been with them for awhile then que off of him. So if you do not know the fingering of guitar chords then try to learn them so you can see where they went. Guitar is typically there as a rhythm instrument.

Signs of who to watch. Typically the ones setting close to the bass player are better players, they realize that if they get to far away they will not hear the bass and keep good timing due to other players in the circle getting out of time and messing them up. I personally always try to place myself in close proximity to the bass with a solid rhythm player of either guitar, mando, or banjo next to me. With this, we all are going to fall apart at some point, it’s human nature, but the chances of both falling apart at the same time nearly never happens, so when someone falls apart a decent rhythm player will get you back on course in a matter of a 1/4 note or so, not a complete measure.


#19

Good advice form Oldhat…


#20

— Begin quote from “burton”

well I went to my first jam but left the ol banjo at home(baby steps). But it made me really want to be able to join them one day. but my question is how do you figure out the pattern of chord changes? I understand keys but is there a simple way to figure out what follows what chord it a certian song? I think the next time I go they dont want me on the side lines. they all say you need to play with other people to get better, But I need to be able to play without tab first.

— End quote

Good job…at least you went! I haven’t made it to a jam yet and I am promising myself I will not be able to say that by the end of summer!


#21

well thanks for the advice ,I really do appreciate it. and im sure i’ll have many more questions in the future.( no teachers in the area) And mswhat, even though I didn’t take my banjo I really enjoyed myself, I was really nervous at first not knowing what people would say walking in without an instrument. But soon after going in and explaining why I didn’t have mine with me it seems they were cool with it and excited that their love of bluegrass was being enjoyed by some what of younger people. (I took a buddy) but the thing it really done was open doors of communication with other musicians that I could pick there brains. And they assured me and made me feel more comfortable about next time bringing my banjo ,no matter how bad I may feel I play. And another cool thing I realized later in the weekend, I found a bluegrass gospel concert to go to (the farm hands) and most of the guys that were at the jam were there also and made a point to speak and give advice, it was like they were accepting me into their inner circle already. :stuck_out_tongue: {even though it was all good I still have the butterflies of actually taking it but… :blush: I think i can, i think i can.