Preparing for Music in the Real WorldWhen we talk about jamming, the first thing that comes to mind is some sort of rock, jazz, reggae or country band. Guys just getting together and playing music out of thin air. This can be confusing to those of us who were brought up playing band instruments with sheet music and a guy waving a stick at us. Unlike our school bands, pop bands generally have only one of each instrument, and each of those instruments has a very different role. Click here to investigate the structure of a pop band. For those of us who play band instruments, jamming can also include playing chamber music in small groups with no conductor. You've heard the terms--duets, trios, quartets, quintets, etc. Playing a duet is a great way to pick up some essential jamming skills. Only one other player is required, and there are lots of great duet books that you can work from. In fact, you don't even need the other player. You can tape yourself playing one part, and then play the other part along with the tape. This is a very productive activity for young players. Skills for those who aspire to JAM
Counting Rhythms - You must play rhythms accurately. Horns often work in sections of 2 or more players and you need to tight enough to sound like one person. For a good example of this, check out the Tower of Power horn section. (Master Theory lessons 9-14, 21-26, 36-42, Classical Music for Dummies pp.246-252)
Effective Listening - In the real world, your listening skills are just as important as your playing skills. When listening to music that involves your instrument, listen carefully to find out what things your instrument typically does in different styles of music. Listen to the roles of the other instruments also. When jamming, the role of your instrument in the ensemble determines what you will need to play.
Activities to get the juices flowing:
These are only the most general suggestions, but they'll have to do for now. Faithfully done, they will provide a basis for good sight-reading, counting and jazz improvisation skills.
More coming soon...
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