If you have your guitar playing skills up to a certain level then it’s time to start playing with other musicians. It’s fun to jam with other musicians whether it be with another guitarist at home or full blown band. There are a few guidelines that should be followed. This will insure that the jam session or rehearsal will go well from your end of things. Without a few guidelines on etiquette your jam may not be as productive as possible or even worse , you may not be invited back.
The most common problem for guitar players new to jam sessions is awareness of whats going on around them. Sometimes guitarist get into their own little world and are oblivious to everything external to them. One of the most common faults are volume issues. Playing too soft can hinder the other musicians to hear you well enough to factor you into the mix of what’s going on. Plus it’s odd for a listener to see you tying to rip a cool solo and can’t hear a thing but they see your fingers flying around the fret board. Ask the other musicians if they can hear you. Believe me, they will tell you.
On the opposite side of having your volume be too low is being too loud. It’s obnoxious and for me is way worse than being too low. It gives the impression that the guitar player thinks he’s the most important person in the room and that all the other instruments aren’t as important as him or her. Even if this not your way of thinking or belief, it can and will be interpreted that way by someone and may lead to negative consequences. Ask the other musicians if your too loud. Believe me, they will tell you.
Awareness of your surroundings is more than just overall volume issues. It’s also connected to listening to what other instruments are doing. If you are playing with some experienced musicians they may want to have some dynamics in the jams or songs. Dynamics in a jam or songs are basically changing the volume during the song or jam. Playing softer and as opposed to playing at full volume the whole time. Be aware of the other musicians doing this and follow suit. It easy, turn down your volume knob on your guitar.
The final advice I have is in regards to a solo spot. Have it be an appropriate length of time. This may vary depending upon the situation but be aware the other musicians. If your getting the evil eye from everyone it might be time to wrap it up and get back to the song or rhythm playing. The opposite might happen as well, if your burning it up and everyone is looking towards you keep it going then by all means, keep it going.
With awareness on these points, you will have done your job to ensure the best possible environment for the other musicians your jamming with. The guidelines to follow are easy to incorporate and will keep you being invited back. Playing with other musicians is a great way to develop your skills as a guitar player and it’s fun.
About the Author: Mark Turko is a guitar teacher in the New Haven CT. area. He is the owner and lead guitar instructor at Solution Music Studio. If you are looking for guitar lessons in North Haven CT contact Mark at Solution Music Studio