Do you have good jams? When you jam, do you feel like you went on a journey through music with the people you were playing with? Or is it more like a ‘meh’ thing to do when you’re bored?
Jamming is a skill like everything else. The more you practise, the better you become. And its not just magic fairy dust or ‘luck’ that good jams happen; its actually something you can influence yourself.
So here’s some tips to making your jams better, to creating memorable jams. A memorable jam leaves you with an energised feeling, of something you played a part to create.
Although jamming solo can also be a lot of fun, the following is within the context of jamming with others.
1. Play for the jam, not for yourself
Depending on your personality, there can be a tendency to play what you want to play regardless of whether its best for the music or not. When you jam with others, you all pitch in to create the overall jam in itself. Each player adds his/ her part. And you need to respect that, and play with those people, placing no one above or below you, regardless of their skill level, personality, etc. Its like dropping your ego, which is admittedly hard to do, but so worth it when you do let go.
2. Let go of an expectation
Which brings me to the next point. Assume does indeed make an ass out of u and me, and this goes for assuming a jam will be good, bad, that you won’t make something good, or you’ll always perform well. And the rest! So let go of the assumptions, and let things play out as they will. Focus on enjoying yourself and playing with others, and the rest will sort itself out.
3. Use drum facilitating techniques
This is a more practical tip. There are several you can use, but for now, here is an overview:
- Copy other peoples parts.
- Play a ‘grounding’, or a steady, rhythm/ melody.
- Respond to others parts with your own, AKA Call and Response.
- Play less notes, letting other people fill in the gaps.
- Play more notes, filling in the space.
As a general rule, try and go through all of these, if you feel the jam is a bit stale. Nothing livens things up than change and variety.
4. Practise when you can
To develop any skill, you need to practise. And so you’ll probably need to either go to a meeting designated for a jam, or organise one yourself. Simply waiting for the next jam to just come along is fine, but it won’t help you to get better at doing it, and therefore, making jams more memorable.
5. Be open to playing with anyone
If someone can tap their feet or clap their hands, they can jam. Everyone feels music within them; its up to them to express it. Put this way, there are so many people you can jam with, you just need to be open to playing with those who you wouldn’t immediately think to jam with. Keep your mind and heart open, and you’ll find the unexpected and wonderful happens.
Jamming is an art, a thing of expression. Each person expresses themselves differently, and its up to you to express yourself in the jam. With that said, the wider range of expression you show, the better your jams will be.
Within this wide range, you’ll find yourself closing your eyes, moving with the music, as you do when playing music you love. Because the best jams are felt more than they’re heard.
Life philosophy from JimJam’s Jamming Tips.