Good post Bethany! One thing that I’ve always learned about playing with others is the importance of understanding your role. So many times you will find in a band or jam setting that other musicians are thinking one of two things–you are playing too much or not playing enough. This is a tough (but fun of course) balance to find, and if you strike it, it makes the overall sound of the group that much better. You will walk away with a big smile on your face after that session! Here are few things to consider.
1. Make eye contact with the guitarist to feel when he is going to hit that chord change. When you make the connection, you will find he/she will try that much harder to follow you, and enjoy making music with you. I think this applies to any genre of music.
2. Don’t overplay the vocals. Probably the biggest thing I learned with playing in Nashville bands is the importance of complimenting vocals and not trying to imitate (overplay) vocals. This is very easy to do if you know the song so beware! 🙂 The fiddle sounds best when it plays during vocal fills (during a vocal break) and actively during a solo. When there isn’t a singer in a band, your mindset will be much different in that you will have a much more active role with the melody.
3. Trade solos! Nothing sounds better when a band or group is all on the same page with improv. It sounds awesome when the fiddle player plays a solo, and then passes it to the guitar, piano or other fiddler (whatever other instruments are in the group). What doesn’t sound good is when the player decides to over play during another player’s solo, and this can actually lead to bad sound and tension with the other players.
So play hard, play just enough, and enjoy the FUN process of improv! Hope you enjoyed the perspective!