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Wish I would have done it sooner...

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Nov 12, 2019 - 7:35:12 AM
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330 posts since 2/25/2011

Recently started taking a Bluegrass Jam Survival Course. The class in once a week for 6 weeks. Really wild I would have done it sooner. You can play by yourself at home all you want, but there's nothing that will substitute actually getting out there and playing with others. Being forced to think on the fly and play in keys you normally wouldn't, getting comfortable taking solos and playing front of others, learning new songs you've never heard before but attempting to figure out chords, rolls and vamping patterns that work. Priceless. Last night was week two and was pretty terrified the first week and wouldn't take solos, but this week said "what the heck" and just winged it, and not all of them were anything spectacular, a couple bordering on disaster, but nobody cares, and that's why we're all in that class to begin with.

So even if you think you're horrible (you can't be any worse than me), just get out there and get your feet wet. Bill Evans was the one who told me to take this class. He did warn me it would be like jumping into the deep end of the pool when learning how to swim, but given I have a guitar background and a very rudimentary understanding of very basic music theory, I can't thank him enough for giving me the motivation to do it!

Edited by - SBPARK on 11/12/2019 07:56:22

Nov 12, 2019 - 9:50:16 AM

12355 posts since 10/30/2008
Online Now

True words!

Another value of playing in jams is that you will unconsciously bring up your volume, compared to playing at home sitting on the edge of the bed.

Nov 12, 2019 - 11:18:55 AM

12 posts since 8/20/2019

Very good! I'm having a similar experience lately, but just with regular jams. I have been playing for the last year with a local group of musicians (banjo, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, and me on mandolin) but it is all from paper or book with lyrics and chords, and somewhere between bluegrass and country/pop. Very little soloing - mainly just accompanying the singer(s). My time with this group has been a good learning experience, but I was wanting to find folks who were more interested in things like fiddle tunes and soloing, so I turned to local jams in the KC area to try to meet some like-minded musicians.

I've been to two jams in the last three weeks, and it was similar to your experience - I was hesitant to take a solo on a song I'd never heard before, lol, and was trying to figure out chords and melody on the spot. I have taken some solos and some weren't terrible, and I didn't die! Some folks had great solos, but most solos were rough at best, so I'm becoming less worried about a polished performance and more worried about learning to pick up a new song quickly and then relax and try for a decent solo every time my turn comes up. (My goal is to NEVER shake my head when my turn comes up for a solo!) Such different musical skills, but fun nonetheless.

I'm still hoping to meet a musician or two who are interested in working on some old timey music and maybe playing out some. I'm finding, though, that the jam itself is a social event with lots of laughter and plenty of encouragement, so I can see that I might still want to continue going to jams, even if the music is rough.

Nov 12, 2019 - 11:21:29 AM

12 posts since 8/20/2019

Originally posted by The Old Timer

Another value of playing in jams is that you will unconsciously bring up your volume, compared to playing at home sitting on the edge of the bed.

I'm actually going the other way, needing to play more quietly a lot of the time in the jam environment. I've been playing with a casual group for the past year, and the banjo and amplified electric guitar and bass have taught me to play pretty loudly, lol.

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