What do I need to do to be ready to jam?
- 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.
- 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).
- Bass and fiddle players don’t make chords, but need to know which notes go with which chord.
- 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)
- Practice these common chord change sequences:
- G-D-G (most common)
- G-C-G D-A-D C-D-C G-A-G
- Learn to change chords without looking, cleanly and quickly while maintaining a rhythm pattern.
- 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.
- 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 version
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