Hi all! In answer to the first question, my suggestion would be practice major and minor scales, particularly G, D, A and E. Then practice chords in each scale in sequences of I, IV, V, I. So for example, in Key of G that sequences would be G chord, C chord, D chord, and back to G chord. Then it would also be useful to practice the same sequence in arpeggios, which are simply the same chords, broken down into single notes. So for an example, in the Key of G, the arpeggio on a I chord, or G chord would be as follows: G, B, D, G, which you could play in two easy octaves from the bottom open G to the top G (e2).
When you practice chord sequences, you can play around with ‘inversions’ as mentioned above. An example of Key of G, I chord, G chord, the standard G chord could be G (open), G (d3) played together. It could be G (d3) and B (g2 or a1), and it could also be B (a1) and G (a2). For reference e2 is a low 2.
Finally, knowing the scale of the key gives you an idea of finger pattern relationships, high and low fingers, etc, so if you are riffing, you’ll stay within the key’s finger pattern. If it doesn’t sound right, move to the next note. This only gets easier following your ear and doing it. Having a basic idea of the sequence to expect in the I, IV, V I pattern of chord progressions in typical songs will allow you to jump into a group playing situation a little easier.
I’m sure your questions would be appropriate, even at the camp, as they are the burning questions that drive us to attend camps like this!
You might enjoy this video I ran across on youtube last night. Its Richard Greene demonstrating a rhythmic, chordal, bowing style he invented called ‘The Chop’, that burns up a jam session.