Say Yes to Jam Sessions

Jam sessions have long been THE proving ground for musicians. They provide an opportunity to try out all the techniques you've been working on in the practice room in a real musical setting. They also give you a chance to learn from other players.

The tips below will get you ready to take full advantage of your next jam session.

1. Say Yes - This first tip is rather obvious, but it needs to be said. If you are just starting out, I recommend that you say yes to anyone and everyone that wants to have a jam session. You'll learn how to play in time with others and likely create some meaningful friendships. The more advanced you become as a player the more important it is that you find better and better players to jam with. Don't be afraid to jam with players that are way beyond your current level. It is a humbling experience for sure, but well worth it.

2. Be Prepared - Impromptu jam sessions have their place, but it's far more efficient to have a plan in place beforehand. Agree on some tunes and make sure you have all the gear you'll need. These little details will set the pace for the entire jam session.

3. Listen - This goes for every musical activity you ever participate in, but especially jam sessions. Don't just play to fill up space. Tune in to what the other players are doing and contribute your part to the whole.

4. Give - If you've been playing guitar for any length of time and you have frequent jam sessions, it's inevitable you'll be more advanced than some of the guys you jam with. Always be willing to share your knowledge/chops/licks with the less advanced players that show an interest. After all, what goes around comes around.

5. Take - On the other hand, don't be afraid to ask other players how they do what they do. Set your ego aside and learn from the more advanced musicians you get to jam with. Of course, you don't want to turn the jam session into a free lesson, so keep you questions short and specific (ex. could you show me that chord voicing?). Most of the time these more advanced players will gladly help you out.

Now it's your turn. What are some of your favorite tunes to jam on? What are some ideas you have for getting the most out of jam sessions?

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