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Thread: What are the benefits of participating in jam sessions?

  1. #1
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    Cool What are the benefits of participating in jam sessions?

    I am referring to an "Informal music education" that occurs in the space of an open jam sessions.


    What skills are being learnt?


    Why is playing in an ensemble unique to solo performance?


    How does playing with other musicians improve musicianship and musicality? etc


    What is your opinion about these platforms for informal learning? Positive? Negative? Why?
    Last edited by Mat; Nov-07-2013 at 00:53. Reason: font color change

  2. #2
    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    Not quite sure what you are questioning but playing in a jam session is a very enjoyable experience and you need to have experience with ens playing it all adds up for example you will learn to listen to what the other musicians are doing and how it will effect what you play, at home alone all you hear is yourself so if you just play by your self you will never know what mistakes you are making.
    Last edited by JHC; Nov-07-2013 at 06:19.
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    Captain of Water Music musicteach's Avatar
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    Jam sessions are great, especially if you're working with someone who is a higher skill level than yourself. In that situation, it's beneficial to BOTH players (the more advanced and the not so advanced). For the newer musician you're playing with someone whose skills are more advanced than yours, and it gives you a chance to learn from their knowledge and experiences. You can learn a few tricks of the trade if you will. For the more advanced of the two, you have to constantly check and adjust for the more inexperienced musician. Some things that you are used to simply happening (such as harmonizing) you have to actually put an effort into doing.

    Here's the thing with playing by your lonesome: everything is set by YOU and controlled by YOU. When you're playing with someone else, suddenly you have to work together to achieve the same goals. If you're used to taking this run a little faster or a little slower by yourself, now you have to adjust for the ensemble. It's also important that in an ensemble it's usually a good idea to be tuned TOGETHER. Remember, just because YOU are in tune, if you are not in tune with the ensemble and everyone else is, you're out of tune. Sometimes when performing with a group it's not about being exactly in tune. Here's a conductors secret for you: if an ensemble is tuned TOGETHER, it could be ten twenty thirty cents off of in-tune but it'll sound in-tune to the untrained ear.
    Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them-a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our Nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. -Gerald Ford

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicteach View Post
    Here's a conductors secret for you: if an ensemble is tuned TOGETHER, it could be ten twenty thirty cents off of in-tune but it'll sound in-tune to the untrained ear.
    I don't quite follow that teach?
    An orch tunes to the Oboe @ concert pitch 440, a jazz ens tunes to what ever the piano is tuned to and during the course of an evening of music the musician will need to adjust the instrument tuning, I have probably misunderstood you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I don't quite follow that teach?
    An orch tunes to the Oboe @ concert pitch 440, a jazz ens tunes to what ever the piano is tuned to and during the course of an evening of music the musician will need to adjust the instrument tuning, I have probably misunderstood you.
    You have. An ensemble tuned together will sound in tune as opposed to one person being off tuned from the ensemble.
    Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them-a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our Nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. -Gerald Ford

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicteach View Post
    You have. An ensemble tuned together will sound in tune as opposed to one person being off tuned from the ensemble.
    OK I still don't get the connection, I must be having a bad day.
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    Captain of Water Music musicteach's Avatar
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    If all of the ensemble is say five cents sharp and you are five cents flat you will stick out, correct? But if you're five cents sharp and tuned to the ensemble, and the ensemble harmonizes to itself, unless you are sitting there with a tuner, most people would not know the difference of being right on or twenty cents off.
    Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them-a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our Nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. -Gerald Ford

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    Chief assistant to the assistant chief JHC's Avatar
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    I heard a discussion last week on the subject of sleep and why we need it, during the day the brain absorbs toxins that impede its function and when we sleep it (Brain) cleanses itself which would explain why I see things more clearly in the morning
    during breakfast I had my eureka moment and I see what you mean.

    With a normal sized orchestra if the instruments are out of tune with each other ‘providing it is not too much’ they will together produce a sound (of the combined instruments) that the listener will accept and have no idea that some are out of tune, is that what you saying? But with a duet or small ens (quartet - septet) then it would become noticeable. This makes sense to me.
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    Captain of Water Music musicteach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I heard a discussion last week on the subject of sleep and why we need it, during the day the brain absorbs toxins that impede its function and when we sleep it (Brain) cleanses itself which would explain why I see things more clearly in the morning
    during breakfast I had my eureka moment and I see what you mean.

    With a normal sized orchestra if the instruments are out of tune with each other ‘providing it is not too much’ they will together produce a sound (of the combined instruments) that the listener will accept and have no idea that some are out of tune, is that what you saying? But with a duet or small ens (quartet - septet) then it would become noticeable. This makes sense to me.
    Yes this is what I'm trying to say. My apologies for the confusion sir.
    Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them-a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our Nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. -Gerald Ford

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    What is being produced is a noise (best word I could come up with) which is crammed full of overtones which we are unable to take apart analytically and it sounds wonderful. on a smaller scale the stringed instruments also do this (Stradivarius) and to a still smaller extent so do the wind instruments, EXCEPT for the Recorder which has a very pure sound (almost no overtones) that can grate on the ears.
    Tuning is something that I have just accepted and never really thought about. A big thank you to yourself and Dikc the OP for bringing this up for discussion.
    Last edited by JHC; Nov-09-2013 at 21:58. Reason: myob
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  11. #11
    Captain of Water Music musicteach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    What is being produced is a noise (best word I could come up with) which is crammed full of overtones which we are unable to take apart analytically and it sounds wonderful. on a smaller scale the stringed instruments also do this (Stradivarius) and to a still smaller extent so do the wind instruments, EXCEPT for the Recorder which has a very pure sound (almost no overtones) that can grate on the ears.
    Tuning is something that I have just accepted and never really thought about. A big thank you to yourself and Dikc the OP for bringing this up for discussion.
    Pitch is a careful balance between musician and instrument. When you are practicing I assume you use a tuner and you tune yourself to the tuner, right? Performing with an ensemble is the same general concept of course, you tune one instrument so that they are HOPEFULLY right. If you're using a tuner, this should be no problem. Then you tune the orchestra to the one you have already tuned. My example is if you do NOT have a tuner, you tune your bass instrument as best as you can by ear, then you tune the rest of the ensemble to that one instrument. Once this is done, you have tuned the ensemble to itself, and that is better than having one section or musician perfectly in tune to the tuner and the rest of the ensemble tuned ten cents flat. That one person would stick out and be considered wrong.

    This is called intonation. And I'm not saying you don't know what that is, but for the ones that don't, the importance of intonation is how in tune you are compared to the ensemble. Most music teachers at the elementary/middle school level define intonation as being "in tune to concert pitch". This is great for musicians just starting out for the sake that it's a simple definition and it serves the purpose for a time being. Unfortunately it becomes an issue when the musician gets to a college or a professional level or sometimes even a high school level when the definition no longer serves the purpose. The true definition of intonation is the musician's ability to tune oneself to the ENSEMBLE that one performs with. On a solo basis, the ensemble is yourself, so it's important to be in tune with yourself...if that makes any sense, which it really doesn't, Which is why we break out the tuners and tune ourselves to concert pitch.

    And since we're on the topic, I hate the simple definition of intonation. Yes, it works for a while. But then we run into problems down the road. I'd rather just teach students from the get go what it really means.
    Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them-a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our Nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. -Gerald Ford

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