Jam Sessions = Fun, Experience & Free Guitar Lessons
A topic that frequently comes up with guitar students that aspire to play in a band, whether a cover band or a duet doing parties, weddings, a church group or any other venue, is how to prepare and how to gain experience & confidence. I addressed some points in my previous article, “Vallejo Beginner Guitar Lessons“. As for getting the experience, the best way, after guitar jam sessions with your buddies, is to participate in open mike nights and jam sessions in front of a live audience.
A professional guitar instructor can help you develop the skills, knowledge and techniques you need. This would include some basic 2 to 4-chord jam patterns which your guitar teacher should be able to “lay down” as jam tracks at a slow speed which I call “ Tempo De Learno”. You must crawl before you walk.
Then your guitar instructor can give you some basic scale pattern lessons including some basic blues leads to throw in your bag of tricks so when you are on stage and get lost or run out of chops, you can always resort to lead patterns that work under any chord pattern.
Remember these important guitar techniques:
- Make sure your guitar is in tune and always have a clip on tuner that is always on.
- Make sure you know what key you are going to play in and have someone show you the basic chord progression they are going to play.
- When you are playing rhythm guitar, remember, less is more. Leave some open space and play 3 and 4 string chords instead of strumming all six strings.
- When it’s time to play lead, make sure you have your volume knob on your guitar up to only 50 percent while playing rhythm so you have lots of room to crank it up so you can be heard. Too often students aren’t turned up enough and then feel like they have to pluck the strings hard to get the volume they want. This will negatively affect your technique especially with hammer-on and pulls.
- Don’t hold back because you might make a mistake. Just let yourself go and look like you’re having fun because if the audience is cheering you on, you can take that energy and channel it in a way where you will find that you play things you never knew were in you. And, if you make a mistake, don’t make a face or mumble something, smile and keep playing – the audience is there to have fun – and you are too, right?
One of my favorite local music stores that offers free jam sessions for all levels and styles, both single artists and groups of all ages, is Consumer Music in Vallejo California (707) 642-7368. They also stock method books for guitar and all band instruments and offer a wide variety of guitars, amps and most orchestra instruments. Tell them Rex sent you.