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RE: [nwbluegrass] jamming questions

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  • Craig Coonrad
    Anna, thanks for your insight on the issue, good to hear how you approach these things. I agree that some people are just more musically inclined than
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 1 12:13 AM
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      Anna, thanks for your insight on the issue, good to hear how you approach
      these things. I agree that some people are just more musically inclined
      than others...and that just makes things easier especially when it comes
      to improvising and such (also a mental thing I think).

      I'm down with the whole 1/4/5 thing, gives you a 50/50 chance of getting
      the next chord right :) (unless of course a 3 or 6 chord slips in there).

      Speaking of mandolin, I was practicing some lead patterns on my mandolin
      the other day and I found that it is really hard to get your pick in
      between the two G strings, the space is so small. I even found that it is
      harder to get your pick in between the two E strings, it's such a small
      space. I'm using a pretty thick pick and it got stuck in there and
      catapulted out and hit me in the face. Does anyone else have this problem?

      okay...ha ha, that's my dumb joke for the day.

      Craig

      On Thu, 31 Jul 2003, Anna Snook wrote:

      > I put myself in the Intermediate section too. I don't have a lot of
      > tunes in my repertoire, but most Bluegrass tunes have the same
      > (sometimes) basic chord progressions and changes, the 1, 4 and 5 chords.
      > On those, you can judge by what key it's in. If the key is 'G' for
      > instance (I know this key by now) the chords would be G, C, and D.
      >
      > To some extraordinary people, it might come a bit naturally, but I would
      > definetly do the scales. And the best way to improvise is to practise it
      > in jams, or Band Scrambles (cough cough).... Where you feel a little
      > pressured. That's what's worked for me, if you could call it 'worked'.
      >
      > That depends. Most people would be really glad to have you come on in,
      > and you wouldn't have long to stand there, even if you wanted to. But
      > then you might stand there forever, you never know!
      >
      > That works, I can't see anything on my fiddle, so I have no reason to
      > tape chords to it, it's a good idea, however, and I use it (even for
      > gigs) on my mando.
      > I play a whole bunch with CDs and tapes. That's good for when
      > you don't have very many people to jam with, which I don't usually. It
      > really helps, you can challenge yourself with learning their breaks, and
      > then you can also have your own "jam session" to improvise on top of.
      >
      > Hope that helped somehow!
      > ~Anna
    • Mark Steudel
      My answers are after your questions ... In a jam situation, when you don t know the chords, you can watch someone else and also do some guesswork based on
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 1 1:09 AM
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        My answers are after your questions ...



        "In a jam situation, when you don't know the chords, you can watch
        someone else and also do some guesswork based on what key the song is
        in. Do advanced players "nail" the chords based on knowing what is
        coming next by ear or the key of the song? Or do advanced players just
        know a damn lot of tunes from memory?"

        ===One of the things that I do when I am introduced to a new song is
        just listen the first time around. See how complicated the melody and
        chord progression is. Sometimes I'll just listen for a couple of times
        around a circle, just too make sure that I have ok sense of the song. A
        lot of songs are really similar chord progressions, like Anna said, so
        sometimes you already know the progression.

        "In terms of improvising lead breaks, did people that have this ability
        get there naturally from playing their instruments for along time...or
        did
        you have to sit down and specifically 'learn to improvise'...meaning
        practicing scales and licks. I would like to move in this direction but
        not sure what steps to take."

        ====Yes and yes. The more you play your instrument the more improvising
        becomes a extension of your thought, than a analyzation of the chords
        and melody. BUT learning scales and practicing improvising is all part
        of playing your instrument. Playing along with recordings is a great way
        to practice while having a "band" back you up. And you can be as crazy
        and out there as you want. The only problem is (unless you have software
        or a tape deck to slow the song down) that playing with recordings is
        that the band only plays at one speed, usually too fast for me. I use a
        software program called band in the box. What you can do is plug in the
        chord changes to a song, pick a style of music, and it will spit out a
        rhythm section for you. Great for practicing leads and improvising.
        Another thing is to practice improvising slowly, this gives you more
        time to think, and gives you more time to try all sorts of things. Then
        as you get more "learned" in a song, you can speed it up and improvise
        at faster speeds."

        "Is there any 'rules' to approaching a jam? Is it cool for me to just
        stand outside the circle of any jam and play rhythm?"
        ====This I have no idea, in Seattle I go to jams around the city, so
        everyone is welcome. Stevenson was my first festival so the whole
        jamming festival thing was new to me as well. I usually listened for a
        song or so to a jam session, and then in between songs asked if I could
        join em ... Or sometimes if I stood there a while listening they would
        ask me to join ... Anyways, there are much more experienced festival
        goers than I ...

        "I created a little cheat sheet for the top of my guitar that has the
        chords of a bunch of tunes I haven't commited to memory...and I have
        started to spend more time playing along with recorded music. Any other
        tips/adive from others who have travelled this road would be
        appreciated."

        ====
        *Practice.
        *Go to jams, see if you can find jams on the Bainbridge (Or maybe come
        across to Seattle for some and then get back to the ferry) If you need a
        list of jams, I'm on a list of jams that happen around Seattle)
        *Take lessons from a good bluegrass guitar teacher.
        *Go to festivals and concerts. I find that concerts really get the
        battery charged up to play. I practiced so much after seeing the
        fiddler's four at the tractor tavern.
        *Practice music with recordings.
        *Try and learn new songs, try and listen to a song and figure out the
        chords and leads. It's amazing how well you can learn a song when you
        try and transcribe it ...
        *Listen to music as much as possible. If there is a particular song you
        like, just put it on repeat and listen to it all day.
        *Listen to different versions of the same song.
        *Record your self or jams that you go to so you can go back and listen
        to your playing or others playing.
        *Find some folks that are better than you are and beg them to let you
        play with them.
        *Play in a band.
        *Perform your music in front of other people.
        *If you are working on a song, and you find it's making you practice
        less and less, or it's really frustrating you, move on to something
        else. (Though don't give up too easily, but don't let it make music a
        downer)
        *Practice singing a lick or melody, and then playing it. In jams this
        totally helps if you can keep the melody going in your head while you
        play, especially if you don't know the song. It may help make your break
        sound somewhat like the song your playing.

        ,.... That's all I can think of for now ...

        Mark
        =================
        The Asian Fiddler
        Seattle, WA
      • Anna Snook
        Mark- I like your list at the end, I ve gotten some ideas from it, thanks! I ve just recently started recording myself on some songs, right after I learn them,
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 1 11:31 AM
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          Mark-
          I like your list at the end, I've gotten some ideas from it, thanks!
          I've just recently started recording myself on some songs, right after I
          learn them, and then once every week. That really seems to help, then if
          you get discouraged at the though of still not being as good as you'd
          like, you can just go back and listen to your first recording. It's a
          real battery charger as well, knowing that you can improve a lot, even
          with just one song in so short a span of time.
          Suzy-
          Definetely work on the 'playing your music in front of other people'
          one. Do a concert for your family or something! It's fun, after you get
          used to it. And I hope we can do 'Wild Kentucky Roan' together sometime,
          if you don't want to do something by yourself.
          ~Anna
          -----Original Message-----

          From: Mark Steudel [mailto:mark@...]
          Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 1:09 AM
          To: nwbluegrass@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: RE: [nwbluegrass] jamming questions


          *Practice.
          *Go to jams, see if you can find jams on the Bainbridge (Or maybe come
          across to Seattle for some and then get back to the ferry) If you need a
          list of jams, I'm on a list of jams that happen around Seattle)
          *Take lessons from a good bluegrass guitar teacher.
          *Go to festivals and concerts. I find that concerts really get the
          battery charged up to play. I practiced so much after seeing the
          fiddler's four at the tractor tavern.
          *Practice music with recordings.
          *Try and learn new songs, try and listen to a song and figure out the
          chords and leads. It's amazing how well you can learn a song when you
          try and transcribe it ...
          *Listen to music as much as possible. If there is a particular song you
          like, just put it on repeat and listen to it all day.
          *Listen to different versions of the same song.
          *Record your self or jams that you go to so you can go back and listen
          to your playing or others playing. *Find some folks that are better than
          you are and beg them to let you play with them. *Play in a band.
          *Perform your music in front of other people. *If you are working on a
          song, and you find it's making you practice less and less, or it's
          really frustrating you, move on to something else. (Though don't give up
          too easily, but don't let it make music a
          downer)
          *Practice singing a lick or melody, and then playing it. In jams this
          totally helps if you can keep the melody going in your head while you
          play, especially if you don't know the song. It may help make your break
          sound somewhat like the song your playing.

          ,.... That's all I can think of for now ...

          Mark
          =================
          The Asian Fiddler
          Seattle, WA



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        • Mark Steudel
          ... From: Anna Snook [mailto:anna@jimsnookcartoons.com] Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 11:32 AM To: nwbluegrass@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE: [nwbluegrass]
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 1 11:54 AM
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            -----Original Message-----
            From: Anna Snook [mailto:anna@...]
            Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 11:32 AM
            To: nwbluegrass@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: RE: [nwbluegrass] jamming questions

            Definetely work on the 'playing your music in front of other people'
            one. Do a concert for your family or something! It's fun, after you get
            used to it. And I hope we can do 'Wild Kentucky Roan' together sometime,
            if you don't want to do something by yourself. ~Anna -----Original
            Message-----


            ===I still get nervous when I first start playing with new folks so I
            try playing in front of as many people as I can. E.g. if we have friends
            come in from town and they ask me to play something, instead of saying,
            "Oh maybe later", I grab my fiddle and saw a tune or two. Even if I'm
            nervous. I think it can be kinda frustrating at jam, when you know you
            can play a tune very well, but screw it up cause you get a little
            nervous and your fingers lock up etc.

            Maybe we can get all the fiddlers in one spot and do a symphony of
            fiddle tunes :) ....
          • sunbeam98592
            ... Craig, In answer to some of your questions, just want to let you know I ll be doing a guitar workshop at St Helen s festival Saturday morning (probably
            Message 5 of 8 , Aug 1 11:27 PM
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              ---
              Craig,

              In answer to some of your questions, just want to let you know I'll
              be doing a guitar workshop at St Helen's festival Saturday morning
              (probably again with assistance of Knott-Dennis). I'll touch on the
              subjects of improvisation, rhythm, backup, lead and playing in a jam.

              Greg Linder


              In nwbluegrass@yahoogroups.com, Craig Coonrad <coonrad@n...> wrote:
              >
              > Hi, I would describe myself as an 'intermediate' bluegrass guitar
              player.
              > I can play lead and rhythm pretty well on the tunes that I know. I
              don't
              > have a huge repetoire of tunes though...and I haven't reached the
              stage of
              > improvising lead breaks. I also don't have a lot of experience in
              jam
              > settings.
              >
              > I was at Stevenson for part of the festival and thought that the
              level of
              > musicianship (of people jamming) seemed very high.
              >
              > My questions are the following for anyone that would care to
              answer:
              >
              > - In a jam situation, when you don't know the chords, you can watch
              > someone else and also do some guesswork based on what key the song
              is in.
              > Do advanced players "nail" the chords based on knowing what is
              coming next
              > by ear or the key of the song? Or do advanced players just know a
              damn lot
              > of tunes from memory?
              >
              > - In terms of improvising lead breaks, did people that have this
              ability
              > get there naturally from playing their instruments for along
              time...or did
              > you have to sit down and specifically 'learn to
              improvise'...meaning
              > practicing scales and licks. I would like to move in this
              direction but
              > not sure what steps to take.
              >
              > - Is there any 'rules' to approaching a jam? Is it cool for me to
              just
              > stand outside the circle of any jam and play rhythm?
              >
              > - I created a little cheat sheet for the top of my guitar that has
              the
              > chords of a bunch of tunes I haven't commited to memory...and I
              have
              > started to spend more time playing along with recorded music. Any
              other
              > tips/adive from others who have travelled this road would be
              appreciated.
              >
              > thanks,
              > Craig
              > Bainbridge Island
              >
              > PS: I hope to meet any nwbluegrassers that are attending the 3rd
              week of
              > PSGW...I'll be there. I'm also hoping to make it to ranchgrass
              this
              > weekend (I'm pretty easily identified by playing a left-handed
              martin
              > hd-28).
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