Every one, regardless of musical ability, should be invited
and encouraged to join the jam circle.
The circle -
stagger the players so there's balance and variety: don't have two of
the same instruments standing next to each other.
Keep your eye out - make room for
new players so they can enter the circle at any time and feel welcome to
Too many of the same instruments?
Tag team time: leave the circle after playing a few tunes and encourage
a sideliner to take your place.
Every one in the circle plays the
same tune or song at the same time.
Announce the song's key before
starting each tune or song.
Announce the chords if someone is
not familiar with the tune.
Breaks go around clock-wise. Each
player, regardless of musical ability, gets a turn.
The tune, or song, is not finished
until each musician in the circle gets a break.
Players may skip their turn at a
break at their discretion - not at the discretion of others. Signal your
pass by taking a step back or shake your head.
Passing your turn means passing
your turn for this break only - a new turn comes up with each rotation
around the circle.
If a player falters during a
break: he/she is allowed the opportunity to recover before the next
player in the circle takes over. Other players keep the song going while
the breaker tries to recover - a "miss" is never a strike-out. Once
recovered, the break reverts back to the original player.
Players should clearly signal the
next player in the circle if they want him/her to take over.
Other players lower their volume
while some one takes a break. Pay particular attention to lower volume
instruments like dobros, dulcimers, open back banjos etc.
When the player next to you does
not know the chords and you do: tell them quietly.
Anyone playing along who is not in
the circle does so at a lower volume and does not "compete" with the
Jams are not freebie music
lessons. Don't ask other players how to play a certain lick during a
jam. Save it for a one-on-one lick trading session later, or a workshop.
Make sure not all songs are
hundred mile an hour instrumentals, allow for a change of pace and pick
a few slower ones to give every one a breather.
Tune your instruments! If your
instrument is out of tune it'll drive other players bonkers and easily
distracts them into playing mistakes. If you don't know how to tune, ask
someone to help you or buy an electronic tuner-they are easy to use
gadgets you can pick up for as little as about twenty dollars and up and
properly tuned instruments simply sound better.
Jams are not closed band practice
sessions, no one gets excluded by weird tunes nobody but a select few
A portion of the jam gets
allocated to be beginner-friendly to encourage sideliners to become more
proficient players and to
afford them the opportunity to apply newly learned tunes/skills/licks.
Noodling between songs. This involves playing
scales, or licks, or chords, between songs. This can be very
distracting, especially for the next player who’s turn it is to come up
with a song. He, or she may be trying to remember something about the
song, and noodling can distract him, or her. The one possible exception
is the person who is responsible for the next song, who may noodle a bit
to find correct key and/or remember an arrangement.
Playing over someone else’s solo. Pros on albums
can and do at times have two musicians harmonizing with each other
during a break, but during a jam this can be problematic, because the
person taking the break: (a) deserves his, or her solo, and (b) can
easily be distracted by anyone who isn't just providing rhythm backup.
High Volume: Those who play
excessively loud (especially on instruments that are inherently loud in
the first place) can cover other instruments, or singers, with the result
that they can't be heard; if it's
the person leading the song who can't be heard, the whole song can fall
for thought: "a person with whom one shares close ties of liking," or: "a
person who is often in the company of another," or: "a person whom one
knows casually." Guess what, these are the dictionary definitions of the
word friend - treat your fellow jammers accordingly