You have to be pretty advanced to jam. I mean really jam; with several players improvising off each other, just winging it with no particular goal in mind. It can be a disaster at times, but when things click there is no better feeling. For most beginners jams are more like a self-help group, where they learn how to play songs and improvise with others. Even for beginners, it’s harder than it looks. Most beginner jams involve a lot of pointless back and forth, with everyone playing bits of songs and riffs that almost nobody else knows. Finally, after a 12 bar blues that lasts a half hour, everybody breaks for a beer and that ends the jam. It only takes a few jams like this to convince most people to forget jamming and just drink beer instead. But jamming is too useful to give up! Besides learning how to solo and play songs, jams provide motivation. There is nothing like the fear of sounding like a dork in front of your peers that will make you practice that extra 10 minutes. You can have a better experience at your jams if you define your goals and prepare. As I said above, since most beginners are not capable of true improvisation, jams are more like a self-help group. Besides motivation there are 2 areas even beginner jams can help with:
- Players can help each other learn how to play songs together.
- Players can learn how to turn a few riffs into a decent solo.
Now that I’ve defined the main 2 jam goals, the next post will explore ways to prepare for them. (Some people might wonder why “having fun” isn’t listed as a goal. In my experience, fun is the result of a positive & reasonably smoothly run jam, as opposed to a chaotic waste of time. This is why I emphasize preparation.) The next post will list ways to prepare for our 2 main jam goals.