Saturday, January 28, 2012

Playing with others - Music Jams

There was an Old Time Music Jam at our local art gallery last night.  There were guitars, fiddles, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, harmonica, and an adorable little banjo uke.  Huck, who usually plays washboard or spoons at jams,  played a couple of his fiddle tunes, Angeline the Baker, Old Joe Clark, and Bile Them Cabbage.  Gus played every song, whether he knew it before or not.  Eric and I chorded along using cheat sheets or watching other players hands.  We were surrounded by a beautiful display of quilts.  I can't imagine a lovelier setting indoors.
Old Time Jam at the Green Drake Art Gallery and Art Center, Millheim, PA

Tips about Music Jams
Music jams are great ways to learn about instruments, new songs, music styles, make connections with other musicians, and just to have a good time.  Some music jams focus specifically on one style of music, Old Time or Celtic for example, and others are open to whatever the participants want to play.
Jams aren't just for great musicians.  Anyone can go.  If you don't play an instrument or aren't comfortable playing with a group yet, you can sit outside the circle and watch and listen, or you can join in with a set of spoons or a rattle egg.  If you're just starting out and can only play a couple of songs, bring your instrument and when its your turn to suggest a song, suggest one of the songs that you know.  Often, if you know a couple of chords:  G, D, and A, you will be able to chord along with some of the songs even if they are new to you.  Bring a notebook and write down the names of songs that you like and pick one to work on for the next jam.

Jam etiquette varies.  Some are very relaxed and others are less so.  The best way to find out is to ask.  For example, at Old Time Jams everyone usually plays the melody (or chords) and improvising or soloing not encouraged.  The opposite is true at Bluegrass Jams, where everyone plays chords and the melody or "solo" is taken up by one instrument at a time around the circle.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me about your family band!