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While every jam is slightly different, there tend to be some common threads that run through them. Following a few basic guidelines can help you seamlessly join the next jam that you visit. 

  • Be observant! There are a lot of unspoken customs that include:

    • How songs are selected​

    • Types of songs selected

    • Who leads each selection

    • How instrumental "breaks" are determined

    • It's okay to ask if you're not picking it up.

  • Be in tune!

    • Tune to a standard A=440. Being in tune with the group is extremely important.

    • Re-check often - especially when using a capo.

    • Investing in an electronic, clip-on tuner is a life-saver. (They've become very affordable)

  • Be prepared to pick a song - or two!​

    • If you don't feel comfortable singing it or leading it, you can always ask if someone else can.​

    • Pick another in case your first choice gets selected by someone else. 

    • It's always okay to pass, but people want to play what you know so do try to think of one.

  • Avoid "Jam Busters"

    • These are songs that don't fit the genre, are very complex, or aren't prepared to be performed at a typical tempo.​

    • Choose a song that follows a predictable structure.

    • Few chord changes are best.

    • Common keys like G, C, A, and D

    • If it's an instrumental piece, a simple version - played at a more typical tempo - is a much better choice than a "fancy" version that needs to be slowed down too much. 

  • It's not an Open Mic

    • People gather at jams to play together. That's what makes them so special. ​

  • Play so others can hear themselves. This is especially true:​​

    • During instrumental breaks​

    • While a vocalist is singing

  • Have fun and don't worry about perfection. You are your harshest critic!

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