Why Jamming is Important
When I had just started learning to play the drums at eight years old, I was purely focusing on the basics. Crotchets, quavers, counting & simple grooves. Not until my parents (who were in a band at the time) suggested I jam a few songs with them did I realise the importance of jamming with other musicians.
Every musician loves to learn to play their favourite songs.
It can take your playing into a whole new direction and let you emulate one of your musical idols. But some things need more than just learning songs, playing exercises and practicing rudiments. Playing in unison with any number of other musicians adds a whole new dimension to the playing experience. As a drummer, it is undoubtedly your job to keep the other musicians in time. You should be the foundation that the rest of the band can build on. When you first start to play with others, this is a lot easier said than done! But as a musician you cannot underestimate the importance of jamming with others.
Learning to play songs with others is one thing, but the real challenge is improvising music as a group.
Unless someone has already decided, no one will have arranged what they will play. Everybody will just be going with the flow. They will use nothing but eye contact and the occasional hand gesture to communicate with each other. I first learned this at the age of ten whilst beginning to play with my parents (them playing bass guitar & saxophone). It was a steep learning curve, as up until that point I had never had to think on my feet while drumming. Everything from fills & grooves to tempo & dynamics was up to me, and the band followed.
I began expanding my circle and jamming with a few small groups of school friends. Soon enough it became more enjoyable than anything I had done previously. By the time I had joined my first band at age 12, I was already the most experienced when it came to playing music with others.
But before learning any real songs as a band we would meet once a week just to jam. This allowed us to really mesh as a band. Soon enough we become more comfortable and in sync with how we all played our instruments.
We played our first few gigs (just 30 minutes of covers) and from then I was hooked on performing in front of a crowd. I began to regularly attend local jam nights (a Google search will show you where to look). I started jamming with new musicians I had never met before, all with different techniques, influences and playing styles. It was a challenging time, but it taught me how to really look at and listen to the rest of the band while playing. To this day it has proved to be one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned.
If I could give one piece of advice to any new musician, it is to find, meet, and jam with other musicians…
…be it friends you already know, or regulars at a local jam night. Jamming with others has provided me with more real experience than any amount of lessons ever could. Lessons are just as important of course. They will allow you to branch out into other styles, and to use more interesting techniques whilst jamming! The perfect balance of lessons and playing with other musicians will put any budding artist on the right track for musical success!
By Sam Thorne