The Ethics of Jamming—The Musician's 7 Deadly Sins
The following article lists seven major faux pas musicians can commit while in a band jam session.
Musicians hold jamming as a sacred art of communication between their colleagues. The most inspiring ideas and fruitful collaborations have been born from within a jam session. But there is a certain code of ethics that musicians need to and should agree to abide by in the jam studio—here are a list of seven types of misbehaviour that are frowned upon:
Don't Disrespect your Jam-mate's Time
Show up to your sessions on time. Don’t leave your band mates waiting for you—you probably are an important member of the session, and they can’t really go on without you (especially if you are a bassist or drummer).
When you are in the jam session, don’t make everyone wait while you goof around on your instrument. Goofing around only works where everyone in the band is genuinely involved.
Don't Come Unprepared
Bring all the equipment with you (the jam would be useless if you have forgotten your amplifier cable, and thus can’t play). If the band has put forth a few standards to prepare pre-jam, make sure you have learned your part! Don’t rely on being able to figure it out during the jam—that is a complete disrespect of your band mates’ time and effort.
Don’t be Distracted by the Opposite Sex
The fact that you have a significant other should be totally irrelevant in any jam or band session. How can anyone focus on the music, if they have their cell phone near by, interrupting the intense music session to answer their “baby”? If they happen to be accompanying you, make sure that they keep a low profile, and definitely don’t keep your band mates waiting while you are making out with her / him.
Don't Boast About your Skills Pre-jam
If this is the first time jamming with your band mates, don’t go on about how fast you can play, nor about who you have jammed with before, nor about your total awesomeness as a musician. You will be figured out as a fraud soon enough as soon as you start playing. If you really are that good, don’t turn your band mates off by reminding them every once in a while—as this may lead to a highly toxic environment within the jam.
Don't Hog the Spotlight
During the jam, don’t spend 20 minutes soloing. Your band mates are not a drum machine! They may have enjoyed your technical ability and soul for the first minute, but they definitely despise you for making them hold the same chord progression / beat / baseline for the remaining nineteen. One of the other musicians may end up shouting, “shut up, we know you could play!”effectively ending your reign as jam king.
Don’t Attempt to Blow your Speakers
Please, don’t get your fellow musicians deaf—make sure your volume is turned down to an appropriate level. Yes, rock is about loudness, but save the sound intensity to your gigs—in rehearsal or jam sessions it’s more about coordinating the music than performing. It helps to get a sound technician (could be a friend with an interest in sound engineering) to manage all the acoustical issues. Also, make sure that the effects that you use is agreed upon by the rest of your band mates before using them.
Don’t Be an Island
One of the most annoying habits of musicians is treating these jam sessions as show off arenas, each playing in an attempt to upstage the other musicians—which creates disjointed jam sessions among musicians. While playing with others, make sure you actually listen to what they are playing, and whatever you add on gives a value to the music on the whole. Don’t put on your earplugs and just concentrate on your playing; save that type of thinking while playing alone.
Author — Johnnie McArdle is a writer at application ratings service and a coffee enthusiast.