Jam Skills Checklist

What do I need to do to be ready to jam?

Gembrook Jam Camp 2012

  1. It is essential that you know how to tune your instrument and keep it in tune. Tune your instrument – the quicker the better – and make sure you check your tuning often. Electronic tuners are very inexpensive these days and quite accessible. There really is no excuse for not being in tune.
  2. Learn the G, C, D, and A chords. Be able to place your fingers on each accurately to make sure a clear sound. you can check this by sounding each string individually, making sure each string sound is clear and not muted).
  3. Bass and fiddle players don’t make chords, but need to know which notes go with which chord.
  4. Be able to change quickly between chords, with correct fingering (with each switch, sound any problem string individually, making sure it’s clear, not muted)
  5. Practice these common chord change sequences:
    • G-D-G (most common)
    • G-C-G D-A-D C-D-C G-A-G
  6. Learn to change chords without looking, cleanly and quickly while maintaining a rhythm pattern.Jam Class 2009
  7. If you do not know the chords to a song, follow the other guitar players in the jam by watching for their left hand chord shapes.
  8. Find a slow jam that uses only G, C, D, and A, or better play along with a slow jam recording

Jamming is easier and better when you can:

  • Remember chord changes of a new song – which chords happen and when
  • Anticipate chord changes, to make them at exactly the right time
  • Sing a song while playing the right chords and a consistent rhythm pattern
  • Play and sing a song straight through with no pauses or hesitations
  • Play and sing a song fluently from memory, not using a written versionJam Class 2009

You can add a lot to a jam if you can:

  • Lead a song. Skills include knowing how to intro a song before playing (give key and chord changes to watch for), designate solos, ending, etc.
  • Fake an instrumental solo on the fly, following the chord changes, melody optional
  • Sing harmony
  • Know how to find jams and/or how to start one