Here’s something I know many guitarists want to be able to do (at least deep down).
That is to have the confidence to ring up a friend or fellow guitarist and say:
I know when I started, I would have loved to jam with my friends, but I was embarrassed to try.
I’d already had setback after setback anytime anyone heard me play, and it ruined my confidence.
In the end, I would jam with my pal, Phil, but he was as bad as me. For him, he just wanted to socialise, drink beer, and then go out and find girls.
Don’t get me wrong, I was seventeen at the time and I loved that too, but dear me, I wanted to have some good jams too.
…And I wanted to feel the joy of playing music with someone and see some rewards for all the effort I put in!
So, what I discovered was that if I was going to be good enough to play with real people in real life…
I needed to be able to jam with a bunch of musicians who wouldn’t judge my poor skills.
I.e. I needed to play with recordings.
That way, when I messed up, instead of getting a pained look from a real person, the music would just carry on, and I could hit pause and start again.
I still made lots of mistakes when playing with recordings.
Yet I enjoyed it.
What made it fun was I had one of those CD players that you could fit three discs in.
So I would put on certain CDs and mix it up and play along with a song off each CD for a bit of variety.
I’d even just listen to songs I didn’t know the chords to and mute the strings and just strum some rhythms along with the CD.
It was basically improvised, but the idea was to get the groove going so it fit the music.
This was a surprisingly useful thing to do.
Sometimes, I’d even just chill while listening to the music.
I would tap out the drum parts as best as I could or tap the basic pulse of the beat on my legs while lying on my bed in the dark.
I can picture it now.
I would come back from my job working in a kitchen to help me through college, and I would grab a beer and lie there in the dark.
All I would hear was the music coming out of these lush-sounding speakers and the blue light of the CD would illuminate the room.
That was the first time in my life I’d been able to afford to buy music.
The job paid £3.70 an hour and CDs were at least £12-15, so I didn’t buy too many!
So another thing I’d do was make the most out of each CD.
I’d listen to it over and over and savour every moment…
…Learning the lyrics, singing along, listening to the guitar parts, the bass parts, paying attention to the drum fills, etc.
All this helped in subtle ways.
Being seventeen was a strange but exciting time.
Anyway, despite this being a slightly nostalgic email, there are a few lessons in there for anyone who wants to be a better musician.
Those little things all added up and helped me build up my skill set and confidence to jam with others.
And when I did jam with others a while later, I realised just how far I’d come.
So try it.
You can give the subtle stuff a go.
That means, listen to the songs you are learning over and over, tap out the grooves, and pick up on any details in the music (try to hear something new in the music each time you hear the song).
That all helps, but of course playing along with the recordings and building up that confidence and skill set is the main thing that really helped me.
So do try it.
If you want some music to jam, then check out one of the new Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy lessons for the month of September.
One of the new lessons features the song “Drunken Sailor”.
In the lesson, you’ll learn how to jam it while playing the simple melody…
How to strum it using just two chords…
And how to build your skill set while jamming with the backing tracks so later you can jam it with real people and do so with confidence.
Honestly, if you ever want to jam with others, this song and the way it’s taught here is perfect for this.
You can find out more about the Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy here:
I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.