Some food for thought on why we should jam with other musicians, jam etiquette and how to get the best results from jamming with other musicians.
To Jam or not To Jam that is the question
By Strings Direct – 29 August, 2023
We are all very different in the way we play music, this diversity means that we all have something to offer each other musically. Never let the lack of jamming experience get in the way of a true connection you can experience jamming with others, you will soon get the hang of jamming and we can grow as musicians together through this experience. Some musicians do find jamming harder than others and it can take some consideration.
Why we jam
We jam for many reasons; to enjoy our instrument with others, to learn from each other, to sharpen our improvising skills, to experience the dynamics of jamming and because it feels good.
We jam to show off many hrs of practice or to perform things we have written.
Jamming can be an important part of the writing process for bands and bands can often form out of jam sessions.
Jamming with drum machines/backing tracks vs. real players
We should all at least play to a metronome or drum machine to improve out timing skills and backing tracks are important for learning harmony, however simple or complex.
These mediums are important but they alone can’t provide the same beneficial effects as a live jam. There is a dynamic experience that is felt when playing with live musicians, especially when bouncing off each others playing, jam tracks are set in stone where live jams are more flexible.
Bad jamming techniques
Have you ever;
Wished the guy you’re talking to, would stop noodling and listen properly?
Wished the young riff kid would bloody well TURN IT DOWN. ?
Been irritated by a soloist who over-plays his designated measures because he’s “on a roll”?
Wanted to throttle a shred-master who plays a million notes over your warm emotive ballad track?
Rolled your eyes as the jazz fusionist say’s lest groove over this Bbmaj7#9b5/Eb vamp in 13/16 time GO ……..
Or have you tried to ignore the OTT bassist that just wont stop playing lead lines in higher registers during your solo part.
We need to first of all listen to the whole spectrum when jamming, notice the spaces where we can accompany best. We need to be less selfish and allow space while still enjoying ourselves. We should give people less confident a chance of self expression. Giving people sonic space is very important, this means if your playing high notes and someone else plays in that register, that’s a conflict of sonic space. Bass players have their low register and guitars should keep out of that frequency giving the bass player his sonic space.
Ideas for jams
The best Jams are always ones with some boundaries and guidelines. Jamming over a song and/or chord progression is a great start. Before launching into it try designating who goes where for any soloing. There is room for the risky free-form stuff , and the watching for body language expressing when it’s your turn to play, but a backup plan is always wise.
We used to jam over backing tracks and bring our own chord sheets for the stuff we wanted to play or had written ourselves. This organisation takes communication before hand and will benefit the experience especially were less experienced players are involved
Find other musicians likeminded and not just the same instrument, play with as many people as you can and video it if possible. It’s a great way to see where you are in the grand scheme of things as we are all superstars in our bedroom.
Check music shop advertising boards and the local paper for musicians to jam with or place an add yourself, good luck and have fun.
What people say
I asked my Facebook group Guitar Addiction, what are the do's and don’ts of jamming? And why should we jam?
Olley Neale - Take turns in rhythm and lead, try and play outside for you comfort
Zone, playing with others sharpens your timing, style and gives you inspiration.
Bruno Wartooth Portilho - No weird tunings I think its probably one.
Dave Lee - I do it mainly to learn.. Or help someone else
Marcus van Huis - Don't just constantly solo as fast as possible
Kyle Simmons - I think if playing with someone who isn’t as good as you, you really shouldn’t try to outshine them or make them feel bad, but challenge them to want to get better.
Scottwork Stirling - To try and play along to someone or a backing track that usually I wouldn't, which can give us fresh ideas and adds to our repertoire.
Daly Redline - hone your skill of improvisation
Christopher DeuxCox - I agree with Olley and Marcus, its the worst when you play with someone who solo's for the entire jam; forcing one guy to be the rhythm the whole time. I just want to do some silky smooth bends every once in a while!
Tyler TJ Morrow - If there's a rhythm both guitar players learn it for easy sharing of lead time..
Ethan Lewis - I always like to plan out with the other person how many bars each of us should solo for beforehand, that way it's out there and clear.
Eugenio Vasquez - Jamming is like saying..... " hi there how are you? what do you feel now? what do i feel? do you like it hard or soft? slow or fast? oh wow i like this? yesss! big rock finally... and i'm spent!!! "
Christopher DeuxCox - Nothing better than connecting with your buddies for countless hours without having to say a single word.
Cliff Sample - Jamming is awesome particularly with guys you play with lots. Reading off each other is fun.
Darren Richard Barnsfield - Jamming is cool and relaxed, no pressure no judgement, just fun with your mates or band colleagues, and on occasions a new song is born, I always discover something new when I jam with people it opens up the doors to new ideas.
Jeremy Salmons - That's how I learned EVERYTHING I know you develop your own style that way
Andy Gelband Sharing ideas, techniques, inspiration in a friendly environment - guitar self-help groups! Haven't had a jamming partner / group forever - real pity.
Travis Simpson Rule 1 listen to the other players more than yourself
Thanks for reading this blog