Being laid back

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Joined: 24 Jan 2010
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Being laid back

We do things differently here in Ester, Alaska. Our weekly jam is laid-back and friendly. Unlike other jams, we welcome sheet music and chord charts. We are friendly to beginners, and about a third of us have been playing for a year or less. We get together to have fun, not to show off. We typically play tunes more or less in unison, and rarely does one musician try to stand out by doing a solo riff. We are very eclectic, playing old time, celtic, contra, waltzes, or folk depending who is there and what music is available. About half of us bring standard books like the Fiddler's Fakebook. We have a box where we store multiple copies of sheet music in alphabetical order so that everyone who comes can enjoy playing music with us.

Our jam was started in direct response to a fiddle workshop leader last summer who warned beginners not to join the "inner circle" of a jam, but to stay on the margins or, even better, not to play at all. She literally sniffed in disdain when I asked if sheet music could be used. I decided then and there to start our own jam, in our own tiny community hall, that would be welcoming and friendly to all skill levels. We have up to 19 people jamming on Sundays, and our ages range from 7 to 70.

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Starting a jam is an awesome

Starting a jam is an awesome response to what sounded like well-intended but narrow advice. I'm classically trained on violin Suzuki method, and both play by ear and read. I admit I read better than I play by ear, but I am working to even that up. Both are really important.

I run two jams here in Kansas City where sheet music is a key element. We are continually introducing new tunes, and that's such an efficient way to do it. One sounds like a similar focus to yours where we play Contra dance, Irish and OT tunes mostly and play ensemble style in unison.


Everythings up to date in

Everythings up to date in Kansas City. (and surrounding area jams)

Been to a blues jam with a Harp(think orchestra not harmonica) to an open jam with a world champion whistler.

I can only read music if there a few notes and they are close together.
I can read chords for my ukulele. (only been playing 16 months) and so far no one has asked me to leave the room.

On the harp (think harmonica this time) I can hear tunes, chord progressions and appropriate blues runs...still learning after 37 years of trying. I was even welcomed when I was a bit trying and tended to play too loud. I at first learned the hard way..playing badly...then took some lessons from Tulsa excellent player AND teacher.

It is a blessing to pass on the little I do know to newer harmonici players.
Bringing Laughter and Music to the World, One Group at a Time!


Joined: 29 Jul 2010
Groups: None
sounds like a great time...I

sounds like a great time...I always say that anyone can play the guitar or banjo, it's remembering the words to the songs that's the hard part. john

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