Intro: How to Be a Better "Jam" Musician
This Instructable will be describing what steps you can take to learn to "jam", if you will, with other music(ians) without hesitation. I would assume this instructable may be helpful to anyone looking to start jam bands such as Phish, The Grateful Dead, or Disco Biscuits that involve vamping, therefore implies you know how to stay with the band while they all play the rhythm for you, or you play the rhythm for them. The things in this Instructable would be great for any musician to learn though, and would help greatly with your musician ship.
This is my first instructable so let me know about any errors and such. Sorry if there is bad grammar through out the entire thing, i am not very good with grammar it seems.
Step 1: HAVE a SOUL!
I see a lot of modern music player just run through songs without even budging, its pathetic and sad on many levels. I suggest writing your own material, and never playing anyone's songs exactly how they did it. Add your own spices to the soup as my guitar teacher used to say. Soul is what separates a good music player from a great musician. I am sick and tired of seeing kids sitting around running scales and calling it a song. So please, please, please if you take anything away from this lesson let it be this step.
Step 2: Establish an Instrument to Learn On
I personally learned all this on my guitar because its my main instrument of choice, i suggest picking your instrument of choice, because this will help you become more familiar with your instrument.
Step 3: LISTEN TO THE MUSIC!!!!
This may be the most important step of the entire process, listen to bands that play music which have extensive vamping such as Phish. If you do not own music like this go here
create an account and type in bands or songs that involve this type of music.
Live music by these bands is going to be more beneficial, because when live bands tend to improvise and extend songs.
Personally, i find bluegrass music a great thing to listen to, becuase it often consists of large amounts of improv through out the entire band.
I mean really listen to the music, sure you can sit there and listen to it while you are surfing the web, but you aren't really paying attention to it. Turn on the music lay back on your bed and just listen to the harmonies and such. Listening to peoples music is one of the best ways you can learn to play music.
Step 4: Learn Your Notes by Ear
There are many ways in which to do this, best ways would involve actually using your instrument but there are "Ear Trainers" out there, which are program which will EVENTUALLY train your ears, i find this to be a slow process. I tried out a few of these ear trainers but none of them worked as well, or were as beneficial as process using your actually instrument.
Here is my way:
Take your instrument of choice. It is crucial that your instrument is IN TUNE or this will just screw everything up for you.
And Pick a really simple song in which you can sing the instrumental part of.
Example: the intro to purple haze, its simple and easy to memorize.
Now learn to sing the instrumental part of this song perfectly singing it in the same octave each time.
Okay once you have done that done we move on to another part and come back to this later.
Next pick an octave to play and sing each note along with the octave as you play it, You should be able to hear when they are the same note. When i sing along with it i make sure to sing the name of the note, that way my brain recognizes this note as that name. So Keep trying until it sounds right, this work a lot easier if you have a tuner in which you can see if you are hitting the right note or not. THIS IS NOT ABOUT BEING A GOOD SINGER JUST MATCH THE NOTES. Do this repetitively until you get it down. I recommend doing this with a few octaves.
Next, remember that song we were talking about earlier, well play that part of the song on your instrument singing along with it in Harmony.
This will not happen over night!!!!! This takes lots of practice just as playing the instrument itself so don't give up, it takes longer with some people then others. Do this a few times for a warm up maybe each time you pick your instrument up, because if you do this non-stop many people become frustrated and give up.
i recommend downloading one of the ear trainers and testing your self a few times to make sure you are doing it right. But do not rely on this to get you by.
Step 5: Learn What They Did
Something i tend to do is look up songs, and learn to play little parts of the song but never the entire song. By doing so you can learn what the musician before you have done and how they get sounds. Don't worry about sheet music if you don't know how to read it, just use tabs, although learning how to read sheet music is recommended at some point in time. Look up portions of the song or type in on google "How To Play Like _______", and there are often sites that come up showing little riffs that they commonly used. Youtube.com can also be a great source just type in "Grateful Dead Lessons" or something like that and you will often find lessons that teach little things that these bands did.
Step 6: Play Along With the Music or Backing Tracks
Now time for the fun, playing along with the music. Pick some songs that you enjoy turn them up and play along, by play along i do not mean the exact song, i mean play your own improvised lead and rhythm parts with it. Remember to listen to what is being played though, becuase if you just focus on what you are playing, there is no way for you to tell if what you are playing fits the music you are playing along with. They key to being a good musician is leaving your ears open to the rest of the band not just your own instrument. Also if you don't have such great timing i recommend practicing with a metronome every time you play, they can get expensive so if you don't have one just use a free one of the web.
Step 7: LEARN LEARN LEARN!!!! PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!!!!
You can never know too much when it comes to music!!!!! Learn theory and chord construction, you will be a much better musician for it, just don't get carried away and lose you soul.
this is a great site for learning theory and reading music i suggest using it greatly.
I personally read through the entire thing once, went back over it all playing along with my guitar, then went back over it all with my keyboard.
And Keep Practicing!!!
ALSO REMEMBER GOOD MUSIC COMES WITH TIME DON'T GIVE UP!
Step 8: Recommended Listening
The Grateful Dead
Dave Matthews Band
Jimi Hendrix (band of gypsys era stuff is best)
Tea Leaf Green
Bob Dylan (1975 era for this type of music)
Then of course all the Solo careers of people who were in the bands above:
and all the rest
i'll add more if i can think of more