Bluegrass Jamming Etiquette – 7 Guidelines

Hello fellow banjo enthusiasts.

Learning how to play the banjo is one thing, but learning to play with others in a jam session is another.  Most students , especially beginners get intimidated when playing in front of other people at an open jam session.

Believe it or not, there are some general guidelines a person needs to follow when playing at a jam session.   Because they are guidelines, it means that not all players follow these  guidelines, BUT they should so that you can get the best sound from the participants.  When sitting in the circle :

1. Give everyone an equal chance to participate regardless of skill level.  We all started slow!

2. Use an orderly progression to take turns playing in the group. Either go clockwise or counterclockwise.

3. Play softly when others are singing or playing a break , this is important so everyone can hear and please don’t play a break on top of someone else.  It is more appropriate to use backup techniques.

4. Do not give instruction or correction to anyone unless they ask for it. If they do ask for help leave the group and find a secluded spot and allow the group to continue.  You are there to jam not, take a lesson!

5. If you play a significantly different style of music than Bluegrass, Gospel or Old Time Music or do not feel like you want to adhere to these guidelines try to find a room where you can pick with others of similar inclination.

6.  Please stop playing after each song to allow the next person some time to properly announce and begin the song they want to play.  This can be annoying to participants if they can’t hear what is going on.

7.  Have fun while you play. We are here to enjoy the music and each other’s company. Remember, be respectful of others and enjoy the music.

Hopes this helps.