playing with other people

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Matthew Bryson, Aug 11, 2001.

  1. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I've got questions regarding playing with other musicians. I have a very good friend who plays sax and likes to jam with various other musicians and wants me to come and jam with them some time, but I've been telling him that I'm really not ready yet (and I really haven't been - I am a very new bass player and I have just recently reached a point where I can play along with certain songs on a cd) I've hung around plenty of this type of session and I know that sometimes by chance people will all know the same song, or if somebody knows a song - the others can usually figure something out - or else you may just pick a key and jam or jam a certain progression or whatever. (right?) So my questions for you more experienced players are: How will I know when I'm ready to play with other people (I'm feeling almost ready and guessing the answer is give it a try and see how it goes, but I dunno...) and the more important question, what should I work on to get there (I've been working on the 12 bar blues pattern and also trying to identify what notes are being played and follow the chords, even if I'm only playing roots) So when I do try to play with some other folks, I know that the drummer is what I focus on first and foremost and try to keep the rhythm tight with the drummer (right?) beyond that what approach might I take - I'm just looking to have a good time in a very informal jam session - advice?
  2. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    Practice is the only way to get better. If you want to become good at solos, practice soloing. If you want to get good at jamming, practice jamming. You don't have to have other people to practice jamming either. Just pop in a cd and try to play along. At first your results might not be so good, but after a while you'll recognize what certain intervals sound like and be able to predict where the music is going.

    If these guys are all good friends of yours I suggest you start jamming with him right away. Even if you have trouble keeping up he should understand (assuming they really are friends) and even help you out.
  3. foolfighter24

    foolfighter24 Guest

    Apr 22, 2000
    Well, I don't really have too much advice except for this:

    It is human nature to doubt yourself. I didn't think I could play with anyone unless I had a year of playing time down. That was totally wrong. My cousin got me to jam with his band(the bassist was sick) after just a few months of playing. He showed me the basic major scale(thats what he called it) and told me if I could remember where the right notes were, I'd be fine.

    Of course, I was nervous as heck when the day came. I barely turned myself up. The guitarist just shouted out a key and he would start playing and we would just follow. We did this a couple of times, and each time I felt better and better and knew that I was sounding very good. After the final part of our last jam, my cousin stood up from behind the drums and said that I was awesome and that was a great line I had going(he might of been just trying to encourage me, but I didn't care! :D )I had so much fun while knowing very little. I think when you first start jamming, being with a friend is a great thing. I have learned all that I know about bass from playing with people. Its a wonderful thing. Have a great time! :cool:
  4. Knowing that you're well into your 20's helps with this answer a lot.

    Playing with others was easy for me because I was 11 and too naive and blind to even consider that I couldn't play with others. You just do it at that age because you're reckless.

    Later on, it can be a lot like learning to dive off a diving board for some people - you're very hesitant to try but you see others do it, making it look easy. So, you often find you're kicking yourself in the ass for not giving it a go. But you're held back by the fear that it will turn out a total disaster and you'll never get up the confidence to try again if you crash and burn.

    One way to approach your friend's invitation is say you'll do it. But you want to know which songs you will be playing and in which key(s) beforehand so you can prepare for them properly. Obviously, this way you go to your first "band experience" with a measure of confidence. You don't have to worry about whether the 12 bar blues or whatever paterns will get you through. You know the actual lines already.

    This doesn't mean you'll automatically be successful. You still have to learn how to lock in with the drummer, how to vary your attack to increase/decrease your presence in the mix, and 20 other things. But those things come after you at least know you are playing the proper notes.

    To just show up and jam is like trying to learn to dive into the water without anyone to instruct you or give you pointers. Odds are you won't do well at all.
  5. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    You have what to lose if you don't jump in the water? You have what to gain if you do jump in?

    Your rate of learning will multiply by playing with other people if you only hit one note all night that is "there".

    No one knows your skill level better than your sax player. If he says you're ready, trust him.

    It ain't near as hard as you think it is.

  6. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Just relax, take a deep breath, and dont look to into this whole jamming with people thing. As stated above, Its totally normal to be nervous and doubt yourself, I get nervous and have a bit of doubteverytime I go to an audition or session, and Ive been playing for almost 16 years.

    Getting the list of songs is always advantagous, but if they dont know what ones they'll be playing that night, just ask someone what the chord progression is and then ride the root notes untill you get the timing of the song down, once you have the timing down create your own bass line to the song. I'll also glance over to the guitar players fretting hand from time to time to see where he's going.

    You'll also gain very valuable experience playing with other people. And you'll have alot of fun
  7. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    yeah this can help a lot if you're having trouble hearing what the guitar player is playing. On a more general note, make sure you're not staring at your bass neck the whole time. You can get a lot of information from other players just by looking at them.
  8. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Jamming with other musicians is the best way to train your ear - if these guys are good friends, they should understand where you're at. Do not pretend to be better than you really are - and have fun! Jamming should be fun - because it is!!! I believe that it is never too early to jam. Remember, jamming is jamming - it is not performing, it is not about how good one is - it is about getting together and playing music. Of course, you still need to practise on your own...
  9. Just Do It!

    There is no substitute for playing music with real live people! Even playing a simple blues line will allow you to work on locking in with the drummer and support the soloing instrument. If the folks you're jammin' with have any smarts at all, they will recognize your experience level and try to play songs that will encourage you. We have all been where you are...

    Good luck!
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I do agree that your rate of learning can increase greatly and that this is what I have done - but I think it depends on the person and that you need strength of character to use experiences like this as positive motivation.

    I don't want to put anybody off, but you talk about what you have to lose and gain - well some people can be put off by playing "above their level" and some people can gain from it. I know that I improve when I play with people who I know are better than me.

    But I could tell a little story about discovering the Jazz Summerschool I have now attended for the last 4 years. 5 or 6 of us went together and most of us found it challenging - hard work - but very enjoyable and felt we learnt a lot. But one of the people who went was a clarinet player and she was very demotivated by the experience - basically she was in tears every night - upset that she wasn't good enough and would never be - depressed about meeting hundreds of musicians who she felt were better than her. Although she cheered up by the end of the week and enjoyed listening and talking to all the other people, she gave up playing after that and changed jobs. The others have all been back since.

    So my view is that it's not always a good thing "throwing yourself in at the deep end" - probably for the majority, but you can't generalise and as I say, you need to have a good sense of self-belief and self-confidence.
  11. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Point well taken, Bruce. When trying to get ones nerve up for a jam session, however, most people, IMHO, will be better off to jump right on in.

    I totally agree that there can be exceptions where my advice may not be all that good. It probably depends on the person to a great extent. The last sentence of Creepys' post pretty much describes what I based my response on.

    In this case, I've read enough of Creepys' posts to realize that he probably isn't a shrinking violet. :)

    He's probably read enough of my posts to know that anything that I say should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Thanks for another point of view.

  12. jazzbo

    jazzbo Guest

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    There is not a tell-tale sign that you'll be ready. The odds are, you'll be ready a little bit earlier than you think you are. I say this because most people are naturally going to want to be at their best, so it is common for people to discount what they're good at, and only focus on the negative. If you go, you will play some "wrong" notes. You will play some lines that you don't really care for that much later. This is natural. It doesn't matter what level you're at, you will make mistakes, and you will never be perfect. But, what you will learn from this experience for outweighs all of that. You will learn to hear other instruments, and to hear what you sound like with other instruments. You will begin to develop your ear to those other timbres. You will start to hear what a drummer does, and much much more.

    Sounds like you're on the right track. Knowing your blues pattern is a great way to start. Can you play that pattern in all 12 keys? This would be a good place to start. Understand that since you're playing with a sax player, they may ask for more abscure keys that a string player, like Eb or Bb major. Work on the twelve bar blues in all keys. What scales can you play? Can you play all scales in all keys? It sounds like you're on the right track. I also encourage you to listen to a lot of music in the days leading up to your jam. Listen to the bass lines and that may give you some ideas for different rhythms.

    Although you may not like it, record it. Definitely record it. You want to be able to listen to this later and pick out the things that you did that you like. Sure, you'll play some stuff where you thought you were on crack, that's normal. But, listening to yourself later can help you identify some of your strengths and weaknesses.

    It can't hurt to begin by focusing on the drummer. Work on getting something tight with him/her.

    The most important thing: Have fun! Seriously.
  13. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    :eek: CREEPY Don't do IT!! I have been playing for a couple of years and I usually play in my closet at home between 3 and 5 A.M. so no one will hear me. Just to be "safe".
    When I started jamming it was with really well seasoned musicians. I had to learn 40 songs in 6 weeks or less and of course I didn't have time to learn them all verbatim(sp). Needless to say I wasn't very good. Every week when I would drive to practice I would literally feel sick to my stomach. I was so nervous I could hardly talk. If I had passed up this opportunity I probably would not be in the band now and would still be playing along with c d's. A good bass player can rip a great solo, but bass is really a "band"instrument. :D

    Go jam or I will find you and kick your arss.:cool:
  14. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    Of course disregard my previous post if you are convinced it will just knock the wind right out of your sails.

    And when you are jamming and you make a mistake, and you will, just keep playing. If no one notices great! If you get a "look" from someone in the jam just look right back at them and grin or shrugg your shoulders and keep playing.:D