Rules for Jamming

The Ten Jammandments from Larry Carlin

  1. Thou shalt tune thy instrument ~ Electronic tuners make this easy.
  2. Thou shalt keep steady rhythm ~ Count beats if neceassary.
  3. Thou shalt take turns choosing songs ~ Announce the Key. Vocalists always choose their key. ~ Choose a song you can complete.
  4. Thou shalt not speed ~ Start songs at a reasonable tempo. Speed up according to abilities.
  5. Thou shalt signal who has the solo. ~ Follow a pattern when taking solo leads.
  6. Thou shalt listen to others. ~ If you can't hear the lead, consider yourself too loud.
  7. Thou shalt welcome others. ~ Include everyone in your jam. Help everyone sound as good as they can.
  8. thou shalt not steal other musicians from an active jam. ~With time, players move around anyway.
  9. Thou shalt try new material. ~ Original & different tunes are OK occasionally.
  10. Thou Shalt Be Considerate Of Pickers. ~ Explain when you're rehearsing, not jamming. Help beginners.

Old Time Public Session Jam Rules from Jim Stanko

  1. Thou shalt not ever forsake the beat.
  2. Thou shalt arrange thyselves in a small circle so that thou mayest hear and see the other musicians. Thou shalt listen with thine ears to the songs and attempt to play in accord with the group; also, open thine eyes betimes to look about thee, lest there be some visual sign someone is endeavoring to send thee. Thou shalt play softly when someone lifteth his voice in song, when playing harmony, and when thou knowest not what thou is doing.
  3. Thou shalt play in tune. Tune thine instrument well, and tune it often with thine electric tuner, lest the sounds emanating from thine instrument be unclean.
  4. Thou shalt commence and cease playing each tune together as one, so that the noise ye make be a joyful noise, and not a heinous tinkling that goeth in fits and starts, for that is unclean, and is an abomination. Whensoever a musician sticketh forth his foot as though he were afflicted with a cramp in the fatted calf, thou must complete the rest of that verse, and then cease.
  5. . Thou shalt stick out thine own foot or else lift up thy voice crying "This is it !", or "Last time !" if thou hast been the one to begin the song, and it has been played sufficient times over. If the one who began a tune endeth it not by one of these signs, then the tune will just go on and on, like the Old Testament, until the listeners say, "Hark ! It all soundeth the same."
  6. Thou shalt concentrate and thou shalt not confound the music by mixing up the A part and the B part. Most songs, but not all, proceedeth according to the ancient law "AABB". But if thou sinneth in this regard, or make any mistake that is unclean, thou may atone - not by ceasing to play - but by reentering the tune in the proper place and playing on.
  7. Thou shalt be ever mindful of the key the banjo is tuned in, and play many tunes in that key, for the banjo is but a lowly instrument, which must needs be retuned each time there is a key change.
  8. Thou shalt not speed up or slow down accidentally when playing a tune, for it is an abomination. (See commandment I)
  9. I Thou shalt not, by thine own self, commence noodling off on a tune the other musicians know not, unless asked or unless thou art teaching that tune, for it is an abomination, and the other musicians will not hold thee guiltless, and shall take thee off their computer lists, yea, even unto the third and the fourth generation.
  10. Thou shalt have fun and play well.

Jim Stanko
Fiddle Players' Discussion
Dec 2007

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