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The blues ain't nothin' but a good woman on your mind - Mississippi John Hurt, See See Rider

Author Topic: starting a local beginner acoustic jam  (Read 5278 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2005, 02:55:52 PM »
Hi all,
While in theory it is good to seek out playing situations with people who play better than you do/know more than you do, in practice, at a certain point, you have to say, "What is in it for them?", particularly if they have to slow everything down and explain it as they go.  I see a problem with things as you describe them in that it sounds like the more experienced players are at the jam to jam and the less experienced players are there to learn and be taught.  The fact that someone wants something different than what you want or envision doesn't make them "difficult" or a "jerk", it just means that they want something different.
With your desire to emphasize learning in the group music-making situation, it sounds like it would make sense not to even call it a jam, but rather to try and find some kindred spirits who are similarly interested in working through and analyzing songs and building skills at the same time, and who are at a roughly compatible level in terms of skill (not better, or at least not much better than you are).  Once you've located your core group who share similar goals, you can work things up, rehearse and hone them, assign homework to figure out tunes and teach them to the other members of the group, etc.
Calling the event a jam just confuses things, I think.  All of the jams that I have been in that were satisfying either in terms of playing or listening involved people who were at very compatible levels of music-making.  If the most skilled people are unable to operate at their highest level because of the need to bring people along who are not ready to function there yet, the result doesn't work for anybody.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Richard

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2005, 03:51:46 PM »
I think that is very well put as certainly in the jazz world it gets the best out of everyone if the musical abilities are well matched.

As for my guitar playing, I try to play with another blues enthusiast once a week-ish and he can play - hence, whilst we have fun and it could be losely described as a jam, I actually view it as learning session with a glass of vino!

Maybe, it's just the word "jam" that is out of context.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline uncle bud

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2005, 08:35:13 PM »
I guess it depends on the level of players in question. If the jam features people like Orville, John Miller and Grant Dermody, for the sake of exaggerated argument, and then some keen fellows at an intermediate level, I'd have to go along with John. If you've got some relatively advanced players and some intermediate players, I think Todd is right: you can learn a lot by going with the flow or sitting and listening for awhile.

Part of the problem is the concept of the "jam" as well. A lot of this has been discussed in the Thinking about Festivals thread, which is worth revisiting as there is a great discussion to mine there: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=74&topic=407.0

I like Todd's concept of a loose arrangement of various people playing solo tunes, some duets, combined with more group efforts. It also depends on your numbers. Most of the jams I witness with more than 4 people or so playing at once are usually a good party but not necessarily great music.

arbarnhart

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2005, 06:00:28 AM »
A lot of my thoughts com from experience in bluegrass circles. There is a store nearby that holds BG jams:

http://www.zeppmusic.com/specials.htm

Near the top oof that page, they have links to a public jam held one night that is advanced playing and a learning jam. There are blues jams nearby for advanced players, but nothing equivalent to the learning jam.

I don't think all better players who just want to play are jerks. But at Zepps, and other similar set ups, they do occassionally have people who try the advanced jam, and then go back to the beginner jam and try to take it over. Zepps has strict rules and a strong leader and they don't let that happen and it is a great begeinner jam. Other jams often sour from exactly that scenario. I don't mean rarely; it is really common. Threads about how to avoid it and war stories about it pop up on BG forums all the time.

I think I may just try to do more informal for a while, but so far this has been very inconsistent

Offline uncle bud

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2005, 08:37:41 AM »
Country blues ain't bluegrass. That's a whole other playing culture.

dabluz

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2005, 11:06:34 AM »
i particpate in a weekly playing session with three other players. we range from a rank beginner to a player who actually performs routinely at local wineries/coffee shops and has a couple of cd's he has recorded. we have been playing together for six months. some of the elements which have made this a good experience are. 1. we put together a "song book", we work from that format. 2. aside from that concept we have no "rules". 3. we have fun. 4. we introduce a new song to our "song book" every few weeks. 5. we have fun  6. we sip wine or beer. 7. we have fun. 8. we are religious about being there  9. we record with a simple digital recorder with a mic and convert to cd that we listen to during the week. 10 we have fun.

in six months the rank beginner has progressed light years in his playing. the performer has added to his set and is really greatful for our help in "working out" some of his thoughts against us. the two intermediates (myself, the only country blues player in the group) and the other intermediate have really grown. we have a 5 song set that is really strong and half a dozen growing songs. we have a nice growing song book. the wives have transformed from sitting in the kitchen drinking wine and saying "are you guys done yet" to actually listening to us (while they drink wine of course) and saying " you guys are good".

so in closing, i have found that all levels of players can be involved,  all can learn and share and most importantly all can have fun and enjoy the experience.  find a common meeting ground, find a common playing ground. work in a mutual direction. record, and have fun.

Offline Richard

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2005, 11:25:07 AM »
Dabluz, that is the way to travel  :) rather than playing the ubiquitous fourty-seven thousand chouri (latin?) at ever increasing volume of  some old chestnut which I can't name for fear of  being targeted by fans of some famous personage  who I won'tt mention either  ;)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline NotRevGDavis

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2005, 12:17:07 PM »
My idea of a "jam" as far as what I was trying to organize is what we do in the dorms at PT till the wee hours of the night. I learn a lot from watching and playing with everyone in this situation, I can jump in when I'm comfortable and bail (and play rhythm or watch) when it gets too advanced.
In a loose sense it is kind of like a bluegrass jam as far as everyone usually takes a turn at the front but that is about the only similarity. Bluegrass jams are kind of rigid.

dabluz weekly playing session pretty much nails what I would like to do.

Thanks everyone for all the info!
Got the name, still workin' on the licks!

arbarnhart

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2005, 07:35:09 PM »
I think Da Bluz has my ideal jam also. We are doing a song list now. There were 3 of us for a few informal jams, we added a 4th last time and one of the original guys may drop out. He is a nice guy and a really good player, but he keeps insisting on dragging his amp over to porch pickings. He can burn up the fretboard on his electrics and even a good acoustic makes him look almost human, so I can understand his preference, but the rest of us are choosing to try to do some acoustic stuff.

I keep going back and forth on ideas of hosting or seeking a better place. I might be out of town in a couple of weeks, so I won't host. I bet they don't make other arrangements. There is a chance I could make it depending on how things go, but there probably won't be one.

arbarnhart

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2005, 01:13:24 PM »
I have kinda gone full circle on this. The electric is not being kicked out; he will host the next one and will play electric when he hosts and acoustic when he visits. The amp will be small enough so as not to drown out acoustics. There is no set play list, but there are a few songs that we have agreed to work on and they will probably be played at some point during the evening with some starts and stops to explain things the first few times. I am finding that going with the flow is making it a better experience with this group. My attempts at structure were acceptable when it was my turn but pretty much ignored when it was somebody else's. I have decided to just enjoy it as a social outlet and a facet of my learning, but not try to make it the focal point. My playing is improving noticably and the jams help; best not mess that up.

Offline waxwing

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2005, 02:09:53 PM »
Sounds like you found the right path, arb. Just having a group that meets regularly is a victory.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline Rivers

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Re: starting a local beginner acoustic jam
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2010, 06:40:50 PM »
arbarnhart, did this ever take off?

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