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Jamming tips: how to feel well and how to behave ;-)

in FAQ Posts: 24
When playing in a jam session, there are some important rules to the game to keep in mind. Although most jams look quite informal, there are certain rules, a kind of jam etiquette which ensures that things go smoothly, every player gets to shine, the audience is entertained. But also that the music becomes something greater than the sum of its musicians and their egos, due respect is given and no-one is insulted or offended and everyone has fun and walks out at the end of the night feeling good.
Recently I wrote this paper on jam session guidelines, hope you all enjoy!


  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Altamira M30, Wide Sky PL-1, 1940? French mystery guitar
    Posts: 512
    It's always worth repeating these tips.
  • edited February 2017 Posts: 3,707
    Indeed it is. I think one area that could use some fleshing out is the etiquette around actually joining jams.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira M & JWC D hole
    Posts: 899
    Personally I always just ask first rather than jumping in.
    always learning
  • JojoJojo London UK
    Posts: 173
    Thanks @Melvin Koenings .The last two points are key to me at the moment
  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 227
    The point about limiting the number of players is a great idea. Problem is, the only local jam session doesn't work like this. Makes for some really messy and unenjoyable moments.
  • t-birdt-bird Portland, Oregon Castelluccia Nuages, Dupont Nomade
    Posts: 119
    woodamand wrote: »
    The point about limiting the number of players is a great idea. Problem is, the only local jam session doesn't work like this. Makes for some really messy and unenjoyable moments.

    That's definitely not the only jam in Portland.

  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 227
    t-bird - would love to hear about other jams, you can PM me if you'd like. TIA
  • AndrewUlleAndrewUlle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    edited March 2017 Posts: 538
    What a nice problem to have - too many GJ players around to jam.
  • djangologydjangology Portland, OregonModerator
    edited July 2017 Posts: 1,017
    After 20 years in jam sessions, I really wrestle with this guideline from Melvin:
    Choosing the tune together:
    Usually, deciding the tune is something done democratically. Someone calls a song and the other may or may not know how to play it. Ideally, the jam players settle on a tune that everyone knows. But if you don’t know the song, respect the others, wait and listen.

    1. I think it is important to include everyone by choosing songs that they know the entire group is capable of having fun with. For example: Don't call a waltz when you know nobody else learned the melody. Also, it is no fun to play a song that has a long form and takes 5+ minutes to get 1 time around the circle.

    2. Also, I find that sometimes people practice new songs at home and then they want to use the jam session to show off their new tune without considering that the rest of the group isn't familiar with the song.

    3. Also, jammers probably shouldn't use public jam sessions as the only time that they ever practice. If you call a tune, you should have practiced it before and also comfortable playing the melody, soloing on it, and ending it.
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited July 2017 Posts: 1,391
    The problem with that is the more people you have in the jam, the more likely you gonna end up playing coquette again for the 1000th time. The big jams always play the lowest common denominator tunes.

    Personally, I like it when someone brings to the jam a less well known tune (provided it's from Django repertoire, of course). The form is usually simple in this style - you can pick up the changes on the spot, or the guy who is bringing the melody can usually explain the chords in < 1 minute.

    Django has almost a thousand tunes in Integrale. I think most guys know something like 30 of them, which is such a shame. There are some real gems in there that just go ignored, even though they can be great jam tunes too.
    Hugh HuffakerBuco
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