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Bluegrass Jamming Skills: Jam Protocol & Etiquette


One of the most amazing and celebrated elements of bluegrass music culture is its propensity for collaboration, community engagement, and audience participation. This natural cultural tendency of the genre is most clear in the context of the ever-popular bluegrass jam session.


Jamming is a critical facet of bluegrass culture. At bluegrass festivals around the globe, for example, attendees of all ages are encouraged to grab an instrument and perform at campfire and post-concert jams, regardless of the attendees’ skill levels or preferred instruments. In fact, these jam sessions are often the highlight of the event for many festival-goers.


Due to the impromptu nature of bluegrass jamming, it is critical that current and future participants alike understand the best practices and procedures that accompany a jam session. No one wants to step on each other’s musical toes, so to speak. It’s all about having fun!


In this online music lesson, Grammy-nominated bluegrass artist, internationally-renowned singer and guitarist, and ArtistWorks bluegrass vocals instructor, Michael Daves provides his deep insights on the proper protocol and etiquette to employ when attending a bluegrass jam session. He even outlines some of the most common verbal and nonverbal cues used within most jams, discusses best practices for calling solos, presents ways to keep a session moving smoothly, and more.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to sing in the bluegrass style from a master vocalist like Michael Daves? Try some free online vocal lessons now!


“There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to the classic bluegrass jam session,” explains Michael. “But, one of the great things about these jams is that there are enough common assumptions wherever you go about how these sessions are supposed to work that folks are able to get up and make music with complete strangers. It’s really an amazing thing.”


When attending a bluegrass jam session, it’s always important to keep an open mind, especially if you’re a beginner or you’re new to playing. Jamming with a new group of folks may feel intimidating at first, but jam sessions are often a safe place to explore your instrument and try new things. The attitude surrounding most jam sessions is almost always positive and encouraging. So, don’t be afraid to leap out of your comfort zone.


“From a musical standpoint, listening, blending, and dynamics are the three most important things to keep in mind when playing in a jam session,” Michael explains. “You want to make sure you’re listening to your fellow musicians and reacting accordingly, and that you’re blending in well with the rest of the ensemble, whether you’re supporting as a rhythm player or taking a solo. Dynamics play a huge role in blending properly.”


To learn more about the proper etiquette and best practices to employ within a bluegrass jam session, dive into this online music lesson from Michael Daves:


Jam Protocol & Etiquette with Michael Daves:




Have you always wanted to learn how to sing in the bluegrass style? Through our comprehensive online vocal lessons and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned musicians, like Michael Daves, and get personal feedback on your singing.


Michael’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner vocal methods to advanced performance techniques, classical bluegrass tunes, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced singer, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as vocalists and musicians.


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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