Going to jam sessions with professionals

For the past couple of years I have been getting together with some friends every week or so to play some songs. My wife is playing bass guitar now, so we generally have me on my guitar, a friend on her guitar, a friend on his keyboard and in recent times a drummer. We are all amateurs, but have a lot of fun, and it forces you to sit in a pocket with others and not have it all about you. Recently however, I went to an organized jam session where you basically put your name on a board and they organize impromptu bands to perform for a brave audience. It was terrifying. I soon found that most of these people were performing professionally in bands and this was their way of networking. Meanwhile here is this amateur from the school of Justin being told ‘right, we are doing this song and its in E’. Gees.

Anyway, I have kept going, and been getting some good advise. I am gradually getting known and interestingly getting better. I still don’t know a lot of the songs, but as they are all 50’s 60’s pop and country songs I find I can generally get away with a combination of 1, 4, 5, and using my ears. Yesterday I even did some fills using the major pentatonic scales (thanks Justin) while the rhythm and lead guitars did their bit. For the bluesy songs I used the minor pentatonic. Phrasing, bending and vibrato all came in handy.

I just want to encourage anyone interested in exploring this not to be put off in the first instance. Just be respectful and stick with it.


Whoa! I wish there was something like that where i live. Sounds great!

My wife makes me play in the corner with my headphones on.


This sounds great. Was it in a hall, pub or where? Good idea.

It took me a long time to find, so keep looking

The first jam was at a Social Club, which led me to the next one at a Polish Club, which led me to one at a Senior Citizens Center. Then there was a spin off to an Italian Club. I am going to a blues specific one next weekend at a micro brewery. So now I basically have one or even two every weekend. After getting used to seeing you around people just come up and ask if you know about ‘this other jam’.

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That is fantastic Keith. Bravo and kudos to you.

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I’ve been looking for some time now. The closest i’m getting is an add on Vi.Be. This has lead to some communication with other players, but i’ll see where it goes from there. Afaik, there’s nothing near to what you described/experienced.
But i’m keeping an eye out. I’m going to advertise in my music academy too. I’m thinking that will help a bit as well.

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Great to hear you are getting out live. As you say it really takes your performance on to the next level.


Sounds really scary and way above where I am now. Guess it helps if you know what ’ it’s in E ’ means as well.

It’s the key of the song, determining which chords are used to play it. That right there is the extent of my knowledge on the subject. :smile:

wow Keith, props to you, I’ve only been at a jam once, it wasn’t with pros and I knew the 2 songs we were playing beforehand and even that made my fingers so nervous! Great tips.

That’s brave @Keith2!
It is a big step out of your comfort zone but you can attest you learn a lot in a shot timespan!

Those are the moments you think
“I should have done more ear training” :smiley:


Well done Keith, way to go mate.

These are the moments I think
“I’m going to do more ear training”

Mine too!!

Wow. Kudos to you Keith. Way too scary for me!

What a daunting leap Keith but fair play to you for persisting and thriving!! Proof positive of being put out of your comfort zone being a good thing.

It helps having done Justin’s theory course, but more importantly learn the notes on the neck (all the strings) and take a look at Justin’s 12 bar blues in any key. That really is the root of it as the 1, 4, 5 does not just apply to the blues. Look out for the 6 though. That is a minor in the key, but often a major replaces it in country songs and a lot of Elvis and the like. And the one big thing I learnt from a friendly bass player was to stop playing open chords (for most songs anyway). If that is all mumbo jumbo go and do the theory course. It is well worth the effort.


Mostly is. Did the first part of the Theory course but that is as far as I got. Trying to fit in all the other stuff with the limited practice time I have.