Are you finding ways to play music with other people? What have been your experiences? Thank you in advance for sharing!
I'm attempting to start a regular monthly jam at my church. There already is a monthly “coffee house” for contemporary music, but my preference in listening and playing is bluegrass and old-time traditional tunes.
I found Toneway and hope to meet other users through this jam.
I've joined a Meet-Up group called Metro Jammers. They sponsor several regularly scheduled jams in the Twin Cities area. Unless otherwise specified, they accept all levels of players. The sessions are a great way to stretch my skills and learn to play with others.
I read with Great interest the posts concerning “Jam Sessions”. I have played in several Jam Sessions. I play lead guitar (intermediate/plus). I found what worked the best for the one Jam Session I played in
the most is this. Those musicians, or show-offs as they were referred to in another post, that could “burn” an instrument up, was asked before a song was sung or played if they wanted a break. Usually after the chorus is sung or if the song was an instrumental, after another instrument had played their lead or break. While an instrument, say mandolin, was playing the other instruments that are considered “loud instruments” would dampen down. Rhythm instruments, Guitars etc., would continue at a level needed to accompany the instrument playing the break. A Banjo and a Fiddle would be considered a “loud instrument”. I played at one Jam Session where the Banjo player didn't know how to or wouldn't, dampen down. All you could hear the entire session was a loud and very annoying Banjo. Don't take me wrong the player really knew how to burn a Banjo up but there were others there that wanted to have their break on a song and not be drowned out. I found out that he was a regular at that particular session, I never went back.
For those at a “Jam Session” that are just starting out on an instrument or know very little, the session can be a great learning experience. I had been banging around on a Guitar since the 7th grade and still did not know that much about what I call real playing. I started going to Jam Sessions about 25 years ago. While those at the session, that were at the professional level, played, I was watching, listening and taking mental notes ever second I was there. From what I learned and a lot of practice on my part, I can now run the entire neck and very seldom use a capo. Without those musicians that knew their stuff, that I got to be a party to, I'd hate to think where I would be with my Guitar playing today. I am speaking from experience when I say to, not only the beginner but to all Guitar players, forget the capo and learn how to play all chord positions without it. Example, I was like a lot of Guitar pickers, when at a session someone would say lets play in “D”. Out came the capos, play “D” in “C” position. I decided to learn how to play without the capo. I would play quietly without the capo while the others played at their own sound level. I didn't want to mess them up. I finally picked up how to. Now I find that “D” is, to me, the most fun and easiest chord one can play on a Guitar. Capos do have their place.
I definitely agree that there should be rules agreed to by everyone at the session, when one is started. When someone new shows up, the rules need to be discussed with the new person so that there won't be any misunderstandings later. At my favorite session when we started, someone would call out a song they wanted to start with. During the session everyone would be asked to recommend a song or if they wanted to do an instrumental. A new person or guest was included. Even beginners were asked so as not to feel left out and to let them know they are a part of the group. After a song, a lot of times, someone would ask another member about how they played certain parts of the song or whatever. I find that most of the musicians at a session welcome being asked questions and are willing to help beginners or each other out.
I would say “NEVER” let one person be dictatorial in a session and dictate what songs are to be done and generally “rule the roost” on everything. This just doesn't work.
One rule I picked up from a self help book some years ago is “Whatever you are trying to learn, stay up an extra hour or get up early an extra hour and spend this time on what it is you are trying to learn. (In this case it would be learning an instrument) At the end of a year one would have 365 hours invested. Surely one could learn just about anything in 365 hours.
Last I will add that Jam Sessions are all about having fun. Should you go to one and you are not having fun, remember its not the only Jam Session out there. It may be that you'll have to start your own.