So I play with various people of various levels of experience, and some of them (like the ones who have been playing for years or the ones with previous musical experience) just keep playing through solos, but can’t seem to start when the intro is played. Others who have less previous musical experience kinda just get lost during the breaks and either stop playing or keep playing G. I want to help them, and it drives me crazy.
What does that mean?
The Scruggs Tag lick on Banjo and the Lester Flat G Riff on Guitar are good markers as to when a break might begin or end. Lead in notes, tatters and pinches as well as counting in are regarded as common signals to the jam to indicate a kick off. If the group is not familiar with these then playing together can sound chaotic. In order to play well together the group has to be mindful of what is good etiquette and musical discipline. Sometimes those who have been playing for some time, get set in their ways and forget how to play with others and might just need a gentle reminder. Good luck with that.
As someone that has only been playing for about 1.5 years, I can tell you they are probably struggling to know the chord pattern/changes. That just takes time. I recommend new players to just vamp for backup and pay attention to the guitar player and bass player for queues as to when and what is the chord change. For breaks, they should roll through chords until they learn a solo for that specific song. Assuming banjo here.
Like once they get going they can follow the changes but when I’m playing through a solo in the beginning before the singing starts they can’t figure when to change.
This is for any/all instruments. and yes, they do have trouble knowing when to change. I think maybe counting out loud 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4(change)1-2-3-4 ect. would help.
It can help to go through how many beats/measures per chord.
Nodding or signalling chord changes somehow while playing can assist also
you can always call out the new chord coming up
Just working on the rhythm section until everyone has it down probably works the best (if everyone is agreeable)
It’s a good idea to ask if they want to learn it correctly before instructing anyone…feelings can be easily hurt when you start correcting someone’s playing…
it’s most always best to take the most diplomatic approach possible.
So YOU have to tell them. If your Playing the Banjo play a Tag Lick, If your Playing Guitar you play a Flatt Style Riff or some other lick that signals a change is coming up.
See in this video how the tag lick is used as a signal to pass the baton onto the next instrument to play solo. @BanjoBen has lots of these licks on the site for you to add to your toolbox. Checkout the Bag of Licks Lessons.
@Fiddle_wood, Dave raises an important point. You need to be tactful playing with others some folks don’t like to be told what to do especially if they are set in their ways. You could maybe open the conversation by saying "Hi Guy’s can we try this or how do you feel about doing it this way "
Man alive that was fine picking! The tone on that banjo is killer, too!
During a solo, it can be very difficult to know what chord is being played and when it changes. I know with banjo for example, I can play a roll that could count toward G, C, or D. Someone trying to play backup to my solo would have no idea what chord to play if they did not know the song. At the jam I regularly attend, when there is a song someone is getting ready to play that several might not know or if it has something other than 1,4,5 chords, they go over what chords are in the song before we begin. They also usually play just chords for the opening so that everyone can see the chords and timing.
I like vamping for beginners because it does not require counting. You just vamp two times for each measure. Then just listen to the bass, when you hear it change, that is your queue.
I am impatient and wanted to know how to practice to hear chord changes. The answer I got was that it takes time playing in a jam. I did not like the answer, but they were right. The more you do it, it just starts to become second nature. One thing I did do to help was play guitar chords during practice, just to get an ear for what I am listening for in a G, C, or D.
@Fiddle_wood that’s some good advice. Most of them are my friends and they know that they need to work on it, I just didn’t know how to teach it.
Just as you learn…teach slowly.
If your on banjo i’d suggest playing chords with them until they get it right and can speed up a little.
Can you write a chord chart? They can come in handy if you could all read one.
Different people learn best in different ways. Some need it mapped out for them (read it)…some have to hear it…some need to see it done…and some have to get the physical “feel” of actually doing it.
Luckily with music you can teach all four ways at once by having something to read and having them play along through it with you :
That video was great. Although strange to hear an acoustic bluegrass jam with an audible guitar and inaudible banjo. I wish that girl had been playing a louder banjo so I could hear what she was doing
I sensed she seemed a little nervous, It happens.
Possibly, but even when she was playing with some confidence the banjo was just really quiet and the tone was like my banjo, one with a tone hoop instead of a real tone ring
Sure but her banjo is pointing away from the mike where as the other banjo is full on so it’s going to be more dominant. I agree I would have liked it if she was playing louder and facing the camera but it is what it is.
Check out his YouTube Channel he has a ton of vids. A couple of demo licks worth taking a look at