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Thread: Scared to jam

  1. #1
    I pity the fool.- Mr T nuclear81's Avatar
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    Scared to jam

    Hey all, here's an odd question, but i'm sure some of you can probably relate. I have been playing for a bit under a year, and I have decent technicque and speed. I can play several songs and solos, etc. The thing is because of my long work hours and everything I have to take care of after i'm out of the office (usually more work) I neevr get the chance to jam with anybody, ever. I have some backing tracks a friend gave me but since they are pertty short and all computerized they don't seem to be helping much. If I wanted to go out and find people to jam with how can I let them know I am a decent song player but complete noob at improv? Thanks. Hey if anyone lives in new york city and wants to practice at all, private message me, thanks
    Yanni is Hardcore!!!

  2. #2
    Registered User Necromortis's Avatar
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    Well, a good way to improve your improvisation skills would be too buy a 1/4" cable adapter (a 1/4" cable is your basic guitar cable, and the adapter would turn it into a...headphone jack...I can't remember the exact measurments). The adapters are about $1.99.

    Once you get the adapter, plug it into the microphone jack of your computer...plug your guitar in, and...there you have it. Download audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/). They make a great free recording software.

    Record some backing tracks. Then record yourself improvising over those backing tracks.

    It's actually slightly humbling when you first start, because (at least in my case), I sucked. But once you practice a bit, it'll help.

    Check out the thread on the Improvisation board (me asking for advice), there are a ton of great ideas in that thread. And remember, there are a lot of experianced players here who are only to willing to help.
    It's my ever present curse,
    It's the hell I must endure.

    -Excerpt of 'Breaking Point'

  3. #3
    Registered User LarryJ's Avatar
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    that'd be a 1/8" inch adapter you're looking for.

    And Necromortis is right, thats a great way to get better. I do it as much as possible, and its alot of fun. As far as letting people know, just tell people that. Put an ad up that says "Rhythm, and an occasional lead" or something like that. Tell them you're experience level, how long you've been playing for, and some of the songs or bands you can/like to play. Everyone always thinks improv skill is the #1 thing, but I personally like carefully crafted solo's better anyways, many times they have the ability to convey much more feeling because its not filled with tons of notes and random ideas.

    I once read somewhere that its alot easier to find beggining musicians, than it is to find pro ones. There is a curve associated to it all, the number of great players ends up being quite small, compared to the number of beggining or 'decent' players. Point being, dont worry about it! Just go out there and do it! There are tons of people out there just like you, let them know your practice schedule and where you want it to go ie: occasional bar gigs or just for fun or whatever. It will take a half a dozen sessions before you really start to feel comfortable with the whole process, and feel the music (this was my case anyways) but once that happens you'll be able to sit in just about anywhere.
    Good luck!

    -lj

  4. #4
    Registered User Mateo150's Avatar
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    Gotta play with other people, won't really develop anything tangible or communicative otherwise. Recording yourself helps, I just started a couple months ago, it really reveals how you truly sound. Maybe what you think is decent really isn't so.
    They call them fingers, but I never see them fing.

  5. #5
    Bassist Extrodinaire FamouSomeday's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Scared to Jam

    I've definitely been there! It's mostly just nerves though. Here's what worked for me the first time I jammed, to get rid of the butterflies:

    1. Pick a song with few and simple chords
    2. Make sure you know the notes that are in those chord and the scales that fit as well.
    3. Keep your leads simple - what is fun is to just use the notes in the chords and flow with them (switch up the speeds and patterns to make it interesting)
    4. Once you're comfortable with that, try a scale or two.

    Finally, keep in mind when jamming, nobody expects you to be perfect and even professionals make plenty of mistakes. Also concentrate on playing solidly and not trying to show off. A solid guitarist who is relaxed is ALWAYS better than a spectacular lead who's got ADD and can't give another artist the floor.

    Good Luck & Happy Jamming!

  6. #6
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Craigslist.com

    Since you live in the US, Try posting something on Craigslist.com in the musicians section. I have found many musicians through craigslist. You can find serious musicians to form a band or just guys that want to jam.

  7. #7
    Sweetest of the bees sugarbee's Avatar
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    These tons of great advice in here already, but I'll throw in my 2 cents.
    Once you do get to a point where you have people to jam with, I think the most important thing is to be comfortable with your fellow jammers. As it's been said here earlier, make sure you know what skill levels you are dealing with, and that everyone understands and has the same basic expectations. Even if you feel silly, or that you aren't as good as another player might be, once you find a groove, even a simplistic one, it's a damn cool feeling. I highly recommend jamming with other players. There's nothing like being part of a sound. I dunno, for me, once I get into it, even though I usually play with people much more skilled than I, it's an awesome feeling just to know I'm contributing in some small way. Satisfying you could say.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sugarbee
    These tons of great advice in here already, but I'll throw in my 2 cents.
    Once you do get to a point where you have people to jam with, I think the most important thing is to be comfortable with your fellow jammers. As it's been said here earlier, make sure you know what skill levels you are dealing with, and that everyone understands and has the same basic expectations. Even if you feel silly, or that you aren't as good as another player might be, once you find a groove, even a simplistic one, it's a damn cool feeling. I highly recommend jamming with other players. There's nothing like being part of a sound. I dunno, for me, once I get into it, even though I usually play with people much more skilled than I, it's an awesome feeling just to know I'm contributing in some small way. Satisfying you could say.
    locating people of similar skill levels is key; I have, in different times in my playing career, tried to jam with people of many skill levels, and when I was new at it I found it absurdly difficult to keep up with highly skilled musicians, and now that I'm at their level (And they've moved away), it seems that most of the people I run into have barely begun to learn their instrument and don't even know what a 12 bar or simple 2-5-1 is yet, and I usually end up feeling I've had to spend more time teaching them chords than just being able to play.

  9. #9
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I think just getting together with some one else no matter what style will definitely improve your skills. I am a rocker and I've gotten together a couple of times with this Jazz saxophonist and we just kinda meet in the middle and jam on some blues... I hadn't realized how much I sucked at blues until I started working with him. I don't have to tell you how much I've improved since. The worst part is probably getting over your ego and realizing that the other guy may actually be better than you, but once you accept that and open up to learning, it'll be an incredibly rewarding experience AND no backing track will respond to what you play like a human being would so just find somebody... even if it's a scat singer and jam together. (I guess that was the whole point of your post ) Backign tracks are an excellent way to do solo practicing but they will never replace a real ensemble.

    Good luck finding someone (I'm sure you will, there's A LOT of people in NYC)
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  10. #10
    Since 1988 Carvinite's Avatar
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    Ok guys this is kind of off topic a little bit, but this really is a neat, Ok we as musicians I think hear music in a different fashion than normal everday listeners, point being, infact what we think sucks could move a average listener more than what we think is amazing. What I am getting at, is I am sure that what we think is better really is better but the average listener doesnt quite know the difference. I did a performace at the school I attend and I had many compliments, but when I listend to it, it was a very dull improv. just my .02

    -Ryan

    PS: but playing for musicians is completly different.

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