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Oct 30, 2021 - 5:32:42 AM
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USAF PJ

USA

278 posts since 9/19/2014

quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

I can learn from any jam ,, crummy, too fiddle-heavy, country/folk. If you play an instrument it’s good to mess around with all kinds of music, whether you’re a die-hard bluegrasser or not.
 


Chuck that is a very good perspective. Simple advice but profound.  Thanks!!!

Oct 30, 2021 - 7:01:14 AM
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Fathand

Canada

11867 posts since 2/7/2008

If the jam you are going to is not providing the experience you want, find some like minded individuals and start your own. Jams do not have to be open to the public, they can be by invitation at someone's house.
You can still go to the country jam if you feel you can learn something there. Playing different styles in different keys is good for your banjo education.

Oct 30, 2021 - 7:54:47 AM

50 posts since 4/3/2015

ive been to many jams in my area but they all died out ... the same people go from jam to jam and destroy the morale of beginner its sad i tried to help but got shunned out myself

Oct 30, 2021 - 11:08:52 AM
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Players Union Member

rvrose

USA

836 posts since 6/29/2007

Invite a few friends over who like bluegrass and make your own jam. Play the stuff you all like. Before long you will have a band.

Rick

Nov 1, 2021 - 11:37:25 AM
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cevant

USA

301 posts since 2/5/2020

I think it's key to know how to play fairly well first, especially if you want to hang with the big dogs. If you show up and don't have the basics down you're probably not going to enjoy things no matter what the tunes. Know both the chords, and the melody to the songs. Learn how to play very quietly over other people's breaks or vocals. Lastly, know when it's time to tear it up, but also when to shut up and just listen. Write down the tunes you don't know and then learn at least one or two for next time. Most groups have a fairly small repertoire and it shouldn't take long to learn most of their tunes. Don't be afraid to hack out a few breaks in the beginning. Before long with some practice you'll be taking breaks and people will be saying, " Wow, where'd that come from?" It's the same process that everyone goes through, and the best way to shut up the critics is to dazzle them with your playing. There is no shortcut, and if you can't play, or play poorly in all the wrong places, people will only put up with you stepping on the tune for so long before they start getting snarky. You gotta show folks that you are putting the work in, and all that matters in the end is what kinda noise is, or is not coming out of your banjo. Would you want to listen to you if you were sitting in the audience?

Nov 1, 2021 - 11:46:29 AM
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Owen

Canada

10063 posts since 6/5/2011

..... ditto ^^ even if one wants to participate with the mongrels and runts of the litter.  wink

Nov 1, 2021 - 12:39:40 PM

731 posts since 2/15/2015

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Around our area, it's normal to have old time country played at jams and the key of E isn't unusual at all. Many of the men in our jams sing in D and E and play a lot of country.

 


You are fortunate. The last two or three vocalists I have worked with all sang in flatted keys. I cursed them at first... until flatted keys became 2nd nature.

Nov 1, 2021 - 1:00:57 PM
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2715 posts since 4/5/2006

If not born into this music, almost every tune in the BG repertoire is totally unknown. Not only had I never heard them, or heard of them, there were multiple Sally, John, & Bill/Billy tunes, to the untrained ear, all sounding pretty much the same. Confusing falls extremely short of adequate. Long before the internet, I discovered Raymond Fairchild LP's packed with twice the tunes, most being the old chestnuts yours truly was unfamiliar.

After getting a half a dozen tunes under your belt, the best thing you can do is find other bluegrass people to pick with. Back porch mini pickin' sessions soon become something to look forward to. Timing just naturally improves when playing with others, plus the back & forth sharing of information (tunes & technique) is multiplied.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Some pickers will be better than others, but all are better than none. Keep at it long enough & someone you really connect with will cross your path.   

Edited by - monstertone on 11/01/2021 13:19:06

Nov 1, 2021 - 9:40:23 PM
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139 posts since 7/22/2012

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Some pickers will be better than others, but all are better than none. Keep at it long enough & someone you really connect with will cross your path."

This is very true in many ways...connecting in a musical way and far beyond the music!!! It is really amazing, some of the friendships that can result from going to jam sessions.

Edited by - Banjfoot on 11/01/2021 21:50:33

Nov 2, 2021 - 2:54:02 AM
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phb

Germany

3112 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by doryman

Hi Philipp, I enjoyed reading the stories about your jams in Germany.  One thought about imposing rules at your own jam (above).  In most of the jams I attend, we take turns going around the circle to call songs.  Each person can call and lead a song or decline and pass to the next person.  There is no calling tunes out of order!  

Yes, I think we should adopt this system. We once had a jam session where we asked each member to lead a song going around the circle and we didn't let anybody off the hook. This resulted in a pretty good jam with quite some variety but perhaps it wasn't so pleasant for some members even though we tried to be friendly and encouraging (and I flubbed my song, too). Offering an opportunity is certainly less intimidating to beginners than applying gentle force as we had.

 

In fact, we kind of make a game out of it, if someone calls for a song when it is not their turn (almost always because they lost track of the order, not because they are a hog), we tease that person for hogging the songs and neglecting poor Sam, or Bill, or Nancy...or whomever's turn it really was, all in fun and we get a laugh out of it and no one feels awkward.  We also very much encourage everyone to try and call and lead a song, no matter how new they are (unless of course they are very new and shy).  And then we support them as much as possible.  In this way, new players become better players.  I was very shy at first to lead a song.  It's a difficult thing to do, you have to be a player, a singer and a band director all at once!

It sounds like your jam is one I would like to attend if I could! Usually the people at my jams are friendly and supporting, too. I have formed some friendships over time. But sometimes a comment that may have been meant to be funny will hurt somebody else. And perhaps that one day the three better players just had too much fun with their songs to notice. 

The paid jam last Friday was very nice, I had a really good time. The jam was relatively small and all but one participant had been regulars before covid. We had 5 banjos and 2 guitars, so obviously the overall sound was horrible but the rhythm guitar played by the teacher was very strong which was fundamental in keeping everything together. We took breaks in turns, each student at least once on each song (again not to great musical effect -- who wants to hear 5 to 10 banjo breaks in a song? -- but great for learning). I kicked off two songs and did quite OK on both of them. My "Salty Dog Blues" was faster than I had intended but everybody tried to keep up and it turned out ok. Even in a slow jam there can be a little challenge after all, right? 

I chatted with one guy I know from this jam after the jam and we agreed that everyone there had progressed quite a bit over the covid period and that due to this higher musical level it had been a pretty satisfying jam.

Nov 2, 2021 - 4:34:48 PM
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2715 posts since 4/5/2006

One way of looking at having a multitude of banjo players in a jam, is the possible variations of, for example, Blackberry Blossom. smiley

Edited by - monstertone on 11/02/2021 16:38:15

Nov 5, 2021 - 10:44:15 AM

113 posts since 4/6/2009

Jams can be great, and I don't mean to be critical at all. But in case you or anyone reading is thinking that playing in a group is the end goal, I'd just like to point out that there are two ways to play banjo--in an ensemble and not in an ensemble. If you can't find a jam that suits you, remember that the solo tradition of banjo playing is long, strong, and distinguished.

Nov 5, 2021 - 11:01:21 AM

YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

612 posts since 5/11/2021

quote:
Originally posted by rvrose

Invite a few friends over who like bluegrass and make your own jam. Play the stuff you all like. Before long you will have a band.

Rick


This is what happened to me. I started playing banjo because I felt left out at festival jams and wanted to participate. Very quickly I learned that I don't actually enjoy playing in a jam circle with umpteen guitars, 4 banjos, no bass player, and a song list that nobody actually knows. So I started my own, which consisted of 4 people (bass, mandolin, banjo, guitar). After about 3 sessions, we gave ourselves a name and were off to the races getting booked for gigs.  

Nov 5, 2021 - 1:57:57 PM
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Fathand

Canada

11867 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by geoB
quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Around our area, it's normal to have old time country played at jams and the key of E isn't unusual at all. Many of the men in our jams sing in D and E and play a lot of country.

 


You are fortunate. The last two or three vocalists I have worked with all sang in flatted keys. I cursed them at first... until flatted keys became 2nd nature.


Always challenging if there's a girl singer and all the keys change from what you're used to. Another way to learn new skills.

Nov 5, 2021 - 2:53:34 PM
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127 posts since 2/7/2020

Banjo players MUST learn how to play in G, C, and D, and also how to use a capo. No excuses. It's not as hard as some think. When you do that all 12 keys are easily available to you.

Nov 6, 2021 - 6:43:12 PM
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Tommy5

USA

3974 posts since 2/22/2009
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by monstertone

One way of looking at having a multitude of banjo players in a jam, is the possible variations of, for example, Blackberry Blossom. smiley


Yes. I like to play Blackberry Blossom at super breakneck speed melodic style and then laugh at the poor guitar players making all those quick chord changes,  revenge for the guitar players that want to play a three chord song in Eb slowly strumming the same chords  for  half an hour  with 12 verses  read from a book at funeral dirge tempo.

Nov 7, 2021 - 10:09:19 AM
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frob222

USA

4 posts since 1/4/2014

I used to hate any jam that had more than 1 of each instrument. Now I can tolerate any jam that has a loud bass especially if it plays on top of the beat and if there is not too much dead time between songs. If there are other banjos, I don't take a turn on lead. I just work on new backup techniques or concentrate on my timing. I try to learn something new from the best banjo there. It helps if I can hear my banjo.,so to enhance my volume at my ear level, I shorten the strap and/or wear a hat that catches the sound. It makes a huge difference. Try to get next to the best rhythm guitar or a mandolin that does a dry chop and is not playing the melody all the time. If the timing is so bad that I can't enjoy playing, playing loud chops only for a couple songs it seems will actually make the group timing better . If all else fails, I can experiment with my harmony singing ( which is kind of like revenge)

Nov 7, 2021 - 3:35:58 PM
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242 posts since 3/2/2013

quote:
Originally posted by USAF PJ

I am grateful to have one fairly close by. However, often many of the tunes are unfamiliar to me. Merle Haggard, G. Strait, some old country, key of E stuff.

Have any of you experienced this? When I look through a list of tunes that many of us are familiar w/ I am okay w/ them, but it seems many of "those" are not on the radar for many of the other players. I then find myself more discouraged in my playing and question my ability.

Let me leave it at that for now. I am sure some of you can offer some tips. Suffice to say that yesterday I was second guessing as a result of my most recent experience.

Give it to me straight, may be more my issue. Thanks


Solution's pretty simple really and if it's been mentioned already forgive me for being redundant. If the jam is your only option to play with others in your area take full advantage of that fact alone and don't pine to much about them not knowing your tunes. This is an exellent opportunity for you to learn how to hear chord changes coming and getting used to learning road maps that help you understand how most songs are structured. From this you'll start to get a natural feel to navigate unfamiliar songs especially after playing George S. in the key of E for the 100th time. You can slowly introduce a few tunes to them so they will get better at playing Cripple Creek by playing it 100 times. Bottom line is if you are limited to jams in your area your gonna have to learn their repretroire to some extent. Look at it as a positive thing though. Practice playing to CD's at home to songs written in those "off keys" and get good at hearing chord changes and get your muscle memory to working. Believe me...in a few years you'll be like..."finally..someone is actually calling out a song we haven't played 10 million times and it's finally not in the key of G !! : P"

Edited by - brententz on 11/07/2021 15:39:42

Nov 7, 2021 - 8:12:09 PM

75315 posts since 5/9/2007

I started with Country and Western music and love the key of E and all the CW stars like Webb Pierce and Merle.
Jams are different every time and that's what I love about them...never knowing what is going to happen next.Sherry's capo advice is a good place to start.
Look for a jam that is more to your liking.Finding a better one for you will be worth the extra miles.

Nov 8, 2021 - 4:34:16 AM
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USAF PJ

USA

278 posts since 9/19/2014

This has been helpful! After many of these posts, as usual I did attend my regular jam. Probably one of the best nights I had. If any of you are close by, let's touch base.

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