Monday, February 9, 2009

Playing well with others

One of the best ways to improve your musicianship is to get out there and play with other musicians.  Playing music with other people can do several things to help you improve.  Especially if said musicians are (hopefully) better you than are.

Here's how it can help:

  • Learning new tunes, they'll open your ears to new stuff
  • If they've got good time, they'll help yours.  But, you've got to pay attention.  Listen Well!
  • New ideas.  Hearing how better musicians play, will give you new ideas to pull from.
  • Motivation.  I get way more motivated to play music with others than solo.
So you're convinced.  What do you do?  Well, if you're a bluegrass or old time musician it couldn't be easier.  These musical styles thrive on getting folks together and jamming.  All you need to do is ask around.  Search the web for local jams.  Ask local music stores.  

Seattle has both Bluegrass and Old Time music classes designed for getting people together and playing music.  Shoreline Community College offers a Bluegrass Class during the evenings that's perfect for beginners.  The Canote Brothers offer an Old Time class that teaches folks how to play Old time music with a group.   Now if you're a rock musician it could be a little more difficult but searching the web I'm sure would yield lots musicians just like you.  

So you're ready to go out and jam here a few tips that will help you make friends:

  • Play quitely, don't blast at full volume.   
  • Listen well to the other musicians.  Try to make their playing stand out.
  • If you come up against a tune you feel you can't manage, just lay out.  Don't muddy up the sound as you search for the right notes/chords.
  • Remember to be nice.  Playing music is a perfect opportunity for people to throw their egos around.  Don't be that guy.  

I hope that helps.  See you out there.

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