Jamming Etiquette

If it’s your turn to lead a song, here are a few tips:
  • Pick a tune that’s easy for other people to follow. Announce the name of the
    tune, and the key. Don’t use odd keys, it might be easy enough if you’re
    using a capo on a guitar, but it might be very tricky for some other
    instruments. Explain if there are any unusual chord patterns.
  • While you’re playing and singing, keep an eye on the other participants, to
    see if anyone wants to play an instrumental break – these usually occur after
    a chorus, and the verse is the part that’s usually played in a break. Watch for
    anyone giving you a nod to indicate they’d like to play a break, and
    acknowledge their nod. Give a firm nod at the end of the next chorus to let
    them know that they can start playing their lead instrumental.
  • It is best to learn the song(s) that you plan to play at the jam, so that you’re
    not staring at a piece of paper while you’re leading a tune.
If you’re playing along while somebody else leads a song:
  • Play quietly, as there will be lots of other people playing too, and it’s
    important to allow the singer to be heard, and to be able to hear any
    instrumentals that may be played. If you’re having difficulty hearing the
    singer or instrumentalist, then you’re playing too loudly.
  • If you’d like to take a lead instrumental break, make eye contact with the
    leader of the song, and nod to let him/her know that you’re ready to play a
    lead break. The leader should acknowledge your nod, and give you a firm
    nod at the end of the next chorus.
  • If it’s your turn to play, either introduce your song, or skip your turn and pass
    it along to the person on your left. Make your intention clear.
  • Just remember, the whole idea is to have fun making music together, it’s not
    to show off how you can play complicated and unusual tunes. Be considerate
    of others, and have fun!