Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Rules of a Jam

There will come a time in every up and coming musicians life when he/she gets to be a part of a "Jam." Jams can be a great expirience. They can also end up as a big train wreck that leaves everyone with a bad taste in their mouth. At some point you will have a bad jam. You want to expirience this. It will end up making you better and teach you tons. With that said there are some "rules" of the jam that might help you, particularly if you are at a jam that takes place in public.

1- You should known some common "standard" songs. Every musician knows there are certain songs that everyone plays, like Sweet Home Alabama, Crossroads, Teen Spirit, For Whom The bell Tolls, etc. Jams are the times to be doing these songs. Almost any blues song , aka 12 bar blues, fits here too.

2-Everyone plays. If you are part of a jam you do your thing and pass the torch. Jams are fun for evryone. Thats why everyone who is capable should play. There should be a certain competance level though. The competance level should be determined by the majority of people there.

3- Everyone gets a chance to solo. That should go unsaid.

4-Dont solo unless its your time. Nothing worse than two or more people trying to battle it out for the solo. It sounds like a crying animal when this happens. Also feel out how long you should solo. Too much is a no no.

5-Dont play louder than anyone else. The only time you should be louder than anyone else is when you are soloing.

6-Call a song. Again try and stick to the standards and make sure everyone knows the key. A jam is not the time to show your a hipster by picking some indie song or Dream Theatre song that you know noone will know.

7-When your not part of the jam, applaud and show support. You want that when its your turn.

8-If you are the one who picked the song, kind of lead it. Give head nods and looks to help show cues.

9-Watch the "leader" if you did not call the song. That way you pick up cues.

10-Let the drummer keep the beat. He is the one who is suppose to be doing it.

11- Drummers. Playing all kinds of off time off kilter stuff during a jam can be bad. Remember to keep the beat. Go solo when its your time.

12-Dont get all drunk or messed up and try and play at a jam. Thats a quick way to make a train wreck.

13-If you are a singer , bring abook with lyrics in it of some standards, heck, have one there anyway so that someone will be able to sing.

14-Use common sense.

These are just some of the rules I could think of. These will help you when it comes time for you to be in a "Jam." You will have fun doing them and they are a great time! If anyone has rules they would like to add, leave a comment with them and I will ammend the rules.

John Berret


  1. But everyone knows every Dream Theater song...

    :) :) :)

  2. you need to add a involve everyone rule