Thursday, July 5, 2007

Another Big Monday Jam!

Our Monday night Beginner's Jam has really exploded. I have decided to cap the number of people to what we currently have so that I can be an effective teacher. I was originally going to split the group after the last jam, but it seems like everything is working out very well now and I'm going to leave it as is. It is really awesome to see how everyone is improving, and also how brave everyone is becoming in trying to take lead breaks.

Larry R., one of our new participants, sang for the first time. He decided to do Amazing Grace, which was good because we all got a chance to practice the 3/4 (waltz) strum.

John picked Blue Moon of Kentucky for his second song, and did an amazingly good job. We talked about different ways to arrange the song, and what to tell people if he were to do this in any jam session. We decided to start off slow, then have a banjo or fiddle lead-in with the faster tempo. I think it's good for everyone to be able to practice this.

Charlie, another new participant, took leads on several songs. I know he was nervous because he had not ever practiced the breaks before, but he did great. His sister also took a nice break on her mandolin on Worried Man Blues. I like it when everyone is trying to take breaks because not only is it good for them, but it allows me to stay on guitar so everyone can see the chord changes.

We talked several times about not using books and chord charts when jamming. I try to encourage everyone to close the books unless you are the lead singer and need the words. I want everyone to get used to looking at the guitar player's hand for chord changes. We continue to discuss the Nashville Number System every session, and we also review plenty of other topics.

John asked a really good question about how to figure out what key to sing something in. We used his new song, Blue Moon of Kentucky, to demonstrate how to do this. We talked about making sure the song didn't get too high or too low in any spot, and then we talked about trying several different keys to see which one was best. One of the hardest things about trying different keys is figuring out which keys to try and what order to try them in so that you are not just haphazard about this. A person must figure out whether to try a higher or lower key based on how they felt when they were singing. (Were they straining to reach any notes?) Using the musical alphabet, you will either go up or down one key at a time, trying each key until you discover which one is best. Having another person listen can also be helpful if you seem to be able to sing the song okay in several keys. We also talked about how most people will sing songs in the same or similar key, but how this is not always true. Jambalaya is a good example of this.

Our new participants are supposed to be deciding on a song to sing for the next session. I think we'll be ready to try an easy instrumental soon.

No comments: