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  • #2036 Reply


    For those of you who do improv (or jamming, for you fiddlers 😉 ), what are some important aspects that you find needed?

    I think that one thing that is easily forgotten is… Anticipation! Our ears need to be anticipating the chord changes and melody changes. As long as you’re in a straightforward, basic for any song, 1,4, and 5 (sometimes minor 6) chord progression, you will be able to “feel” the change of the chord coming. Listen for it and think of where your finger is going be placed. It’s almost like you’re not going to be dwelling on the current note, but preparing for the next one to come. Just like sightreading is best done with your eyes a few measures ahead of your fingers, so easier improv is done with your ears ahead of your fingers.

    And remember, even if you do get a wrong note, you can always make it sound like a cool slide. 😉

    Which would bring me to another point… Don’t be afraid to experiment or make mistakes! Practice improv by yourself with a recording of a song you know well. I think it will come to you much easier than you realize. It’s always easier to experiment in a comfortable environment than try to pull off a big jam session when you’ve never played anything by ear!

    And, of course, have fun with it. 🙂

    Okay, what are your thoughts? Go!

    #2037 Reply


    Hiya Bethany..
    Jamming is my favorite playing situation! Although I have only been “fiddlin” for about 5 years, and have LOTS to learn, the jam is the best place for that! It puts you on the spot of course, when it comes your turn. But it makes you try harder. I have been made fun of (in fun, I hope) lots of times at jams and I am OK with that. I think one can play at home and learn but nothing beats being in the middle of a jam and you have to do something! I have been playing guitar for over 50 years and am comfortable with it…but this dang fiddle….!!
    I agree with the ‘slide into it”…a great correction tool!

    #2047 Reply

    Michael Sanchez

    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!

    #4411 Reply

    William Bickerstaff

    I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we have venues in the area almost every night of the week with an open mic jam session. You might try googling “open mic jam, your town, state” to find one in your area.

    #4412 Reply

    William Bickerstaff

    At the jam I go to every week, we have a house band… invite anyone with and instrument to come up and jam with us. We help the folks who are just getting started to get some experience jamming in front of other people.

    #4442 Reply

    William Bickerstaff

    I also suggest going to Youtube and checking out some of the Backing Tracks. They are available for lots of jazz, rock and blues. Just type in “backing tracks”.

    #6191 Reply


    i’ve never really had a need to improvise recently but i will definitely try that out – i mean i’ve noodled and stuff but never for like a performance

    #6629 Reply


    This is something I need to work on a lot!

    #7251 Reply


    This is so cool. I hope one day I will be able to have fun with it.

    #9650 Reply

    Nicholas Guess

    I took a workshop on improvising! It was really fun, I’m not very good at it, but it’s lots of fun, and if i practice improvising more, I’m sure I could greatly improve.

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