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7 Things You Absolutely Must Do To Prepare For Your Next Guitar Jam Session
One thing all the world's top guitarists would agree on is the
importance of jam sessions.
Despite recent developments and improvements in practice CD's and
play along computer software, nothing beats playing along with
another human being!
Jam sessions come in two sizes, king size good and king size bad.
A good jam session is when you walk away with a new
confidence in your guitar playing and your ability to perform,
it's a real positive learning experience where you can try out
new ideas and learn by watching other musicians interact.
The bad jam session is a real drag, with the overall feeling
that it was just a "waste of time".
Here's five tips to make certain your jam sessions are good.
Tip 1: Set Goals for your session
Define the purpose of the jam session, is the session:
(a) a fun get together of friends who play the guitar?
(b) an audition style session where you intend to check out
perspective guitar players for your band
(c) working on original material for a recording session ...etc
Always begin planning your jam session(s) with a clear goal in
mind, you will have much more fun, the musicians will enjoy the
session and want to participate in future sessions and you
will achieve much more in a greatly reduced time frame.
Tip 2: Select material
Make a list of the material you want to rehearse, depending on
the purpose of the jam session you may need anything from 3 to 12
The idea here is to think about what you want to rehearse, is it
originals, covers or maybe you need to work on selecting material
and song sequencing for your live performances.
Tip 3: Choose the correct keys
If you are working with a singer you will need to organize a
private rehearsal to define the best keys for the vocalist. It's
much better to do this without the whole band, you will work much
quicker and more accurately without the added background noise
Tip 4: Write the musical arrangements
Even if the members at the jam session are not working from
standard music notation, it's important of write out the chord
charts in the correct key(s) with the appropriate musical road
map information e.g., repeat signs, coda sign, musical dynamic
Tip 5: Equipment checklist
It's a great idea to create a session checklist of equipment you
need to organize such as ...
(a) spare guitar strings
(b) string winder
(c) spare guitar leads
(d) wah-wah pedal etc
these items are pretty obvious, but you will be amazed how much
time it saves when you have them all itemized ... the whole jam
session or performance can come to a grinding halt if someone
forgets to bring a $20 guitar lead!
Tip 6: Contact the players
Now that you have selected the material, written the arrangements
in the correct key(s) it's time to contact the players you want
to invite to the jam session, this gives you control over the
quality of the performance.
Remember, a sporting team is only as good as it's weakest member
... it's the same with a band!
Do everything you can think of before the session so everyone can
enjoy the learning experience. For example, you may need to send
some audio tracks to certain band members who may not be familiar
with the material you intend to rehearse.
Tip 7: Record the session
Don't forget to recording the jam session, this does not have to
be an elaborate recoding, a simple cassette recorder will do the
It's amazing how much you can learn by listening to the jam
session recordings, I recommend listening to the recordings two
or three days after the session, this will give you a good "first
impression" of how your band sounds.
Don't forget to make copies of the jam session recordings to give
to other band members so they can listen and learn.
Guitarists really thrive off the energy of a well organized jam
session, when you have the proper preparation everything just
flows, other musicians want to join in and soon word spreads,
that's how reputations are developed and successful musical
careers are created.
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