Ten Jammandments

Great tips for jamming from Folkjam.org

Ten Jammandments

by Charlie Hall and Robert Rosenburg, as printed in the January/February 2002 Folknik newsletter of the San Francisco Folk Music Club

THOU SHALT TUNE THY INSTRUMENT. There are too many good, cheap tuners around not to do this.

THOU SHALT LISTEN. If you can’t hear the lead instrument or vocalist, then consider yourself too loud.

THOU SHALT PASS. When handing off an instrumental solo, try to follow a pattern either clockwise or counter clockwise. If you want to skip the next solo or pass it on to the next picker, be sure that the next person is aware of the handoff. No one wants to start his or her solo in the middle of the song.

THOU SHALT WELCOME OTHERS. Open up the circle if others want to join. The jam can’t be too big if people are polite.

THOU SHALT SHARE IN THE SELECTION. Open the choice of songs to the pickers around the circle. Don’t monopolize the jam.

THOU SHALT TRY NEW STUFF. Once in a while a participant may suggest original material or one that is out of character with the jam. This is A-OK (refer to Jammandments #2 and #4).

Bands may sometimes be rehearsing and may need to exclude non-band members from jamming. If so, an explanation would be nice for the would be jammers.

THOU SHALT NOT RAID. Don’t interrupt an active jam by calling musicians away to begin another jam. (Bob’s note: Also don’t raid and take over a jam, by having your full band suddenly decide to sit in on a jam and end up playing all your own songs.)

THOU SHALT KEEPTH THY RHYTHM STEADYTH. Errors in rhythm are most difficult to overcome. Avoid adding or dropping beats. Play quietly if you can’t keep up and pay attention (refer to Jammandment #2).

THOU SHALT NOT SPEED. Do not start a song too fast for the others to play. Once everyone has had a turn at the lead, then one may announce that the temp is about to increase.

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