The Power of Listening

Dateline: July 18, 2014 – Friday

Day 2 of Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival


One of the things I took part in today was a workshop on jamming. (It was called a “Slow Jam” workshop.)

Slow Jam1

Now, I’ve been jamming with people for some time, but I’ve never asked any questions about how one is supposed to participate in a jam. I thought this might be an opportunity to learn without having to embarrass myself by asking dumb questions. Jamming at a bluegrass festival, or with any bluegrass musicians is a bit different from other kinds of improvisational music that I’ve done.

Slow Jam2

What I decided to work on as a result of this workshop is to try to stop watching another guitar player to figure out when a chord change happens. I am already pretty good at finding the key a song is being played in and in knowing what most of the chords for the song are. Sometimes I anticipate a chord that turns out to be the wrong one, and I have to correct myself. Watching another guitar player is easy, because I just switch chords when (s)he does.

Guitar Chord

Just about the time I was deciding I needed to listen rather than watch, the people leading the workshop gave this exact advice! Wow! How often does that happen? The interesting thing they said was that it is the bass that you should mostly listen to. The bass will always give the best auditory clue as to where the music is going. I never really thought about the bass having that function, but it certainly is true. So, I worked on my ability to listen closely to the bass and close my eyes to the other guitar players. It was a very useful workshop!



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