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Bluegrass Jam Skills Checklist

by Pete Wernick


Essentials (Learn these and you're ready to jam)

Wernick Method Classes require the skills in this "Essentials" section and teach the others!
        Tune your instrument (using a tuner), quicker the better. Check tuning often!
        Learn G, C, D, and A chords, fingering each string accurately, for clear sound (check by sounding each string individually, making sure it’s clear and not muted). Bass and fiddle players don’t make chords, but need to know which notes go with which chord.
        Switch quickly between chord changes, with accurate fingering (with each switch, sound any problem string individually, making sure it’s clear, not muted)
Practice these sequences:
        G-D-G (most common)
        G-C-G            D-A-D            C-D-C            G-A-G
        Change chords without looking, cleanly and quickly
        Maintain a rhythm pattern while changing chords accurately
        Follow chord changes watching a guitar player
        Find a slow jam that uses only G, C, D, and A, or play along with a slow jam recording

Jamming is easier and better when you can...

        Remember chord changes of a new song – which chords happen and when
        Anticipate chord changes, to make them at exactly the right time
        Sing a song while playing, with accurate chording and a consistent rhythm pattern
        Play and sing a song straight through with no pauses or hesitations
        Play and sing a song fluently from memory, not using a written version

You can add a lot to a jam if you can...

        Lead a song. Skills include knowing how to intro a song before playing (give key and chord changes to watch for), designate solos, ending, etc.
        Fake an instrumental solo on the fly, following the chord changes, melody optional
        Sing harmony
        Know how to find jams and/or how to start one