tips on jamming with inexperienced players?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by monokuro_bass, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. monokuro_bass

    monokuro_bass Guest

    Apr 10, 2012
    New York City

    So I've recently started jamming with a drummer and 2 other guitarists. The drummer is in the same place where I am in terms of proficiency/experience, we both know how to play with others and do improvisational stuff, whereas the 2 guitarists do not. They have been playing for a year or so on and off but their skills set is rather... limited.

    Any suggestions as to what to play that will be fun for everyone? Or any tips on how to bring the 2 guitarists up to speed fast?
  2. icecycle66


    Feb 4, 2009
    You and the drummer are the teachers now.

    Have patience and allow the newer guys to work through their problems. Help them learn.

    I heard once that if you want to make yourself better, surround yourself with people better than you.

    That's what those two guitarists are doing, and you are the better musicians.

    Be a mentor/partner and bring them up to speed. If you are just jamming and having a good time, then there are no gig deadlines and no studio deadlines. Take your time.

    Make sure they know you expect them to improve and not stay as low grade musicians tweedley-dee musicians, but don't pressure them. Promote them, don't pressure them.

    Don't expect fast results. If you guys get together twice a week. They won't be as proficient as you in two or three weeks. How fast they improve depends on two things, how much they want to improve (for themselves and the good of the group) and how you react when they do or don't improve.

    It sounds like you have an opportunity to make an impression on young musicians, (not necessarily young people, but young musicians.) Make it a good one.

    Oh, and start with something simple to make them comfortable working with you and the drummer. Everybody gets simple parts. No one gets any more movement than anyone else. Let the natural personal dynamics of each individual bring them to their role in the band.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I agree with the above. Or, I was gonna say find new people to jam with. :)

    I'll add to what icecycle said that you can keep the jams on 1 chord and improvise a lot on that. No need for changes, especially if they're just learning. You can do lots just staying in A minor, especially since you and the drummer have some experience. You guys can change the moods, tempos, feels, etc, and the the guitarists work their own stuff out.

    Teach them to listen.

    If they're motivated and want to learn I'd also point them in the direction of the jam websites/software that are popping up all over. Someone here put up a whole lot of tracks to play along with, and they were pretty good. Will help the guys learn their scales and get comfortable improvising.
  4. El Slap

    El Slap

    Oct 8, 2011
    East Bay, CA
    And the flip side...

    My suggestion: Em. Any and every rock musician should be able to jam in Em. If they don't know the scale, teach 'em. It'll take 5 minutes.
  5. Keep them away from endless 10 minute solos. Force them to learn to play rhythm with various easy 3-chord songs.
  6. Biggbass

    Biggbass Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Do some jamming on Gloria or Suzie Q
    if they can handle those then try some Yardbirds-Train Kept A Rollin, Over Under Sideways Down, Shapes. Easy stuff that might help them find a groove
  7. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    Play some CCR songs.
  8. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Whoa. First you need to establish some context/vision here.

    1. What are the short- and long-term goals of this band? Include "by when" dates. If it's just a fun/jam band forever, that's fine, but specify.

    2. What are your short- and long-term goals as a bass player?

    3. Do 1 and 2 line up, or are they at odds?
  9. Megazap63


    Apr 12, 2009
    London, UK
    Playing with less experienced players can sometimes help improve your skills - for example, a drummer with a 'developing' sense of time can be challenging and will require the bass to be particularly focused on maintaining the groove. Provided it doesn't get totally frustrating it can be worthwhile.

    However, if the less experienced players have attitude, delusions of grandeur or limited capacity/willingness to progress - I recently encountered this - then ditch it 'cos you're wasting your time.
  10. f64


    Oct 31, 2009
    Naples, FL
    There's an old adage that applies here: "Always find players that are better than you".
  11. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    A year really isn't all that much time to learn an instrument. But regardless, you should find new players to jam with.
  12. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    The only way inexperienced players get better is to practice their rear ends off.

    It won't happen in rehearsal. You'll be able to tell if they are practicing......if not then I wouldn't bother, but that's just me. In my experience, expecting them to "catch up" is a pipedream, but if you like these folks and have a lot of patience, who knows?

    Either way being an encouraging and patient person is the only way to go.
  13. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    Show them some basic I VI V changes.

    Once upon a time I was actually the weak guitarist in the group (high school). This is what got me into chord changes and the blues. Once you can jam on some random I VI V changes, then bring some songs into the mix that use those changes. This imparts a sense of listening while playing live, as well as reinforcement that this progression is for this song, and you'll probably see a few light bulbs turn on.

    I agree with everyone else that mention monitoring whether or not they are trying to improve. If not, then they don't seem that serious and they may be better off with folks of their own skill level. If they do improve, and you guys are having fun, then you have successfully mentored a couple of musicians that needed it.

    Key thing to impart on them.....Have FUN!
  14. Are they taking lessons? If not get them to start taking some and have them work out what you guys are doing with the band in their lessons. Start with easier material and work your way up from there..
  15. look up a lot of grindcore/punk music. Four chords being played at speeds of wreckless abandon? That'll not only make them faster, they may actually aspire to more advanced playing.
  16. monokuro_bass

    monokuro_bass Guest

    Apr 10, 2012
    New York City
    Thanks everyone for all the good advice!

    1. I want to start it off as a jam band, with the option of transitioning into making original music around 6 months from now.

    2. Short term: Practice what I am learning in my lessons in a live band situation to see how I can better implement what I am learning.
    Long term: Make original music in which I can contribute some kick ass bass lines that don't sound like something a rhythm guitarist or keyboardist can come up with.

    3. I think my 1 and 2 line up pretty well.

    I'm prepping like mad for my next session with these people! I hope I know where to draw the line between being a good mentor and unknowingly becoming their guitar teacher (I play some guitar as well), which is something I do not want to do!
  17. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    ALWAYS try to play with musicians of your caliber or preferably BETTER. Playing with inexperienced players means you have to play dumbed down music that they can hack and its difficult to play music you will find challenging to improve YOUR playing.

    However, if your thing is to be a teacher, go for it.
  18. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    Last year I auditioned for a band of beginners. The singer auditioned the same night and we were both offered a spot in the band and we both took it. I took it because:

    1. They were fun guys.
    2. They rehearsed 5 minutes from my house.
    3. Although a beginner, the drummer had great tempo and never sped up.
    4. They had a man cave rehearsal space complete with PA and a bass amp for me to use.
    5. And most important...they told me that they were willing to take instruction from me because I had band experience and they didn't want to waste time playing the same 12 songs in the garage every week.

    I was already in a band, but could spare a night a week, and didn't have to spend a lot of time learning songs as we were only playing easy songs. I almost quit a couple times, but a few things happened that changed things for me. We went through 4 vocalists before finding one who was VERY good a few months ago. Shortly after that, one of the 2 guitarists got a new job and had to quit. He was the one we could most afford to lose. He was replaced by someone who is good on guitar, has a great ear, and can also sing. The other guitar player can also sing, so now we have 3 vocalists. He has also been practicing every day and has become a very capable guitar player.

    It's now 4 months since we got the new vocalist and 2 months since we added the new guitarist. In that time we have learned 25-30 songs and we are almost gig ready...not bad for a band where the bass player (me) spent a lot of the first few months teaching the guitarists how to play songs.
  19. HuntYouDown

    HuntYouDown Guest

    Jan 3, 2012
    Tampa, FL
    12 Bar Blues
  20. teach them less is more!