musical freedomMany people share the opinion that the best way to develop your drumming capabilities is to follow a strict drum practice routine: practice rudiments, work on speed, condition lower hand muscles.

The benefits of such practice are unquestionable; however, putting your knowledge – no matter how basic – into practice cannot be compared to anything.

My First “Jamming” Experience

I can clearly remember the day. I have only been playing the drums for like three months, I had a friend who learned a few bass lines on his classical guitar and another who knew some cool riffs. Forming a rock band seemed quite reasonable; we knew we would change music history.

I am not going to praise ourselves any longer: you might have already guessed what had happened. We borrowed our school’s equipment. I assembled the drums toms facing upside down (noticed only days later), it was the first time my friend has ever played a real bass guitar and it was also our guitarist’s first time with an electric guitar.

After having expressed my opinion that drums should only operate on two volume levels – loud and louder – I ended up playing in front of the rehearsal room, the guitarist was teaching bass to the bass player, and we figured out none of us could sing.

We were beginners, and looking back what happened seems natural. However, many of you could be in similar shoes, and to avoid ending up the same way I can only point out one thing: you might have noticed that everyone was busy focusing on his own instrument, and none of us really cared how the band might sound together. A musical jam is not the independent musical act of some musicians close enough to each other so that the sounds’ of the instruments would mix. Jamming is something else.

Jamming is Expressing Musical Freedom Together

If you have attended any live jam sessions you already know that when musicians are jamming they do not really have a predefined track list, they do not discuss who plays what and when, and they usually do not feel ashamed if a note is false or a beat is out of measure.

Jamming is the most direct form of musical communication: it is artists communicating through the channels of melodies and rhythms, with no preset program. Jamming should always be spontaneous, should always be open and free. Jamming is really like a friendly talk, where no one cares if a joke is not that funny. Someone will tell another and it will be better.

Pay Attention to Your Colleagues

I used to word colleague intentionally – hoping that you already thought that when playing music the other musicians next to you are not “just” your colleagues. They become friends of yours, you have a common fate for a while.

It is rightfully awaited from friends that they pay attention to each other. The same applies to music, in particular jamming: unless you pay full attention to your friends around you, the music you play is hardly going to be able to express the freedom jamming is meant to express.

Actually, after a while jamming should be a bit like typing on the computer: you do not even look at the keyboard, you just hit the keys and somehow what you meant to type appears on the screen. The same has to be applied when jamming with other musicians: you actually have to pay more attention to what they are doing than to what you are trying to do.

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