Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ron Gentry's Ukulele Jamming Tips (applicable to all types of music jams)

The River City Ukulele Society is a ukulele enthusiast organization in Richmond, VA.  They hold open jam sessions at The Cultural Arts Center At Glen Allen on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.  Jam Leader Ron Gentry has distributed a list of ukulele jamming tips that actually can apply to all types of music jams regardless of whether it’s a ukulele jam or some other kind of music.  These "Tips" are just  They are intended as helpful hints to making jamming more enjoyable for all. 

Ukulele Jamming Tips
By Ron Gentry

Basic Tips
Be in tune before starting. Whenever in doubt use an electronic tuner.

Be on the right chord.
Learn the chord changes as quickly as possible.
As necessary, watch the left hand of someone who knows the chords.

Stay with the beat. Don’t rush, drag, or lose your place in the song

Watch your volume (No amplified instruments, except a U-Bass).
Allow the singer or person taking a “break” to be easily heard. If you can’t hear him/her, play quieter.
When it’s your turn, make sure you are heard.
Be aware that your instrument (especially banjo ukes) may not seem as loud to you as to someone in front of you.

When you lead a song, know the song “key” and all of the verses and chords.

When performing:
Keep your music stand as flat and low as possible.
Look up from your music as often as you can.
Smile and make eye contact with the audience.

Play songs out of the two River City Ukulele All Stars Tune Books or provide handout copies of the song(s) you are leading.

If you aren’t providing copies of the music, suggest songs easy enough for everyone to follow (4 chord limit).

Be aware of the common denominator of ability when picking tunes and tempos.

Whomever kicks off a song determines the key, tempo, and leads the group through the song, signaling who takes a “break” and when to end.

The person leading the song may sing it differently from the way you remember the song. You must listen and follow the leader…do not try to impose your version of the song.

If a vocal or an instrumental “break” starts late, listen for whether it is starting from the top, or from a later point in the song.

If players realize they are at different points in the song try to resolve it quickly, usually by falling in with the soloists even if he/she is mistaken.

If everyone but you gets lost, follow those who are lost.

When a singer doesn’t start a verse on time, keep playing the root or “I” chord and wait until the singer starts before going to the chord changes.

Use signals to help everyone end together; foot up, hold up instrument, end after one last chorus, or repeat of last line, or someone says “last time” or “turn it around”.  Listen for instrumental “licks” that signal ending, i.e. “shave and a haircut” lick.

Etiquette Stuff
When re-tuning or checking your tuning, wait your turn.
If someone is tuning, avoid any playing.
When everyone is finished playing, you shouldn’t play any notes you have left.
Refrain from noodling around on a tune between songs.

Thanks Ron!

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