Before I continue the preparation ideas for our 2 types of jams (part 1), I’d like to talk about actually finding people to jam with! While it’s better if both players are at similar levels of competence, you don’t have to be identical as long as you can get along. As I stated in “Take Control; for guitar” less proficient players can pick up a lot from better players, who will often put up with them when flattered and plied with free refreshments. Although I am assuming you will be jamming with another guitarist, other instruments are OK. However, only guitar & keyboards will allow you to play both chords and lead, if you jam with a sax player or drummer only you will be stuck playing chords! I would also recommend keeping the total number of participants down to 2-3 max. It also helps to widen your scope, if you wait for somebody who’s only into Rush or Led Zeppelin you could wait awhile, try classic rock instead. In the last post I defined the 2 types of beginner jams as; learning to play songs together and learning to solo/improvise. Here are some preparation ideas:
- LEARNING TO PLAY SONGS TOGETHER- I am assuming you are capable of playing some songs decently by yourself! If you can’t at least play a half dozen songs by yourself, more or less with the recording, you are not ready to jam with others. If you can, then I would start with a few of the easier ones. Playing with another individual is challenging enough without adding technical difficulties on top. If a song has 2 parts get it straight with the other player who plays what part. Make sure you both are playing the same version! Bring the recorded songs to the jam in case there are problems. If none of your jam partners is a drummer, a metronome/app, or drum machine can help keep the tempo on track. If both players can agree on 2 or 3 songs and prepare this much, the jam should go smoothly.
- LEARNING TO SOLO/IMPROVISE- Have a few easy songs to jam over. A 12 bar blues, the John Lee Hooker/La Grange 3 chord pattern, basically any easy to play song or pattern with just a few chords. That way you can trade off, with one player trying out his riffs and the other player backing on rhythm. Simple jams mean they will probably stay in 1 key and easy to pick up, if one player is unfamiliar with the song. A metronome/app or drum machine is always a help.(and aggravating!) At first your solos will sound like disjointed, clumsily strung together riffs, but they will smooth out with time!
Besides work, school, church, etc. you can try Craigslist or a notice on your local music store’s bulletin board. Jamming is a crucial step in turning your music fantasy into reality!