New to jamming?
You’re not alone.
The Chatsworth Family Fiddle Jam is a monthly (mostly) old-time music jam especially for beginners. We’ll learn a tune or three and get comfortable with jamming in a low-pressure environment.
Always free, open to all ages and folk instruments.
We will meet under the oak trees at Chatsworth Park North, 22300 Chatsworth St, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm on Sunday, January 27th.
Tunes we’ll likely play are:
- Boil Them Cabbage Down (A)
- Amazing Grace (D)
- Old Joe Clark (A mix)
- Bonaparte’s Retreat (D)
- Golden Slippers (G)
- Soldier’s Joy (D)
- Red Wing (G)
- Devil’s Dream (A)
- Arkansas Traveler (D)
- Tennessee Waltz (D)
- Angeline the Baker (D)
- 12 Bar Blues in D Major
How It Works
What is an old-time jam?
A group of musicians sit or stand in a circle. Usually there’s a mix of fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and/or bass players, but don’t let it stop you if you play something else. One person names a tune and what key it’s in, and then either they or someone who knows the tune starts it off. Often they count four beats of rhythm to establish the tempo, then launch into the tune. Everyone else joins in to the best of their ability and keeps playing the tune until the leader indicates it’s time to stop or everyone gets sick of the tune and stops on their own. Stopping time is usually indicated by someone shouting “last time”, or by sticking out their foot to indicate the last time through. When anyone can call a tune to play, it’s sometimes referred to as an “open jam.”
In a “structured” or “instructional” jam, one person acts as leader and has a list of tunes to pick from that’s known to the participants, so they can prepare in advance.
A bluegrass jam is similar, except instead of everyone playing the tune at the same time, most people will be playing accompaniment while the lead and improv breaks are passed around the room, one person at a time. Bluegrass jams will often include songs, with sung lyrics.
Smaller jam sessions may take other forms, including having a few melody players take turns sharing a tune with accompaniment, while the other melody players listen and don’t play.
We’ll be working mostly in a structured old-time style, with the occasional Celtic, blues or bluegrass tune thrown in for variety. Scroll up to the top of the page to see the list of tunes to be played each month.
What do I need to know before I can play?
- It’s good to know how to tune your instrument, or at least to recognize when it’s out of tune so you can ask someone else for help tuning it.
- Be able to play some basic melodies — “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and the like — on your instrument. While we’re hoping to help out people who are just getting started with jamming, it’s not the best place to learn the very basics of how to play your instrument.
- Since most jams involve learning tunes by ear, reading sheet music is not not a required skill but it can help you learn a tune faster.
- If you’re playing guitar, it will be very helpful if you know what it looks like when other guitar players are playing certain chords: G, D, A , E and C will be very useful.
What should I bring?
- Your instrument(s) and accessories you like to use: capo, rosin, tuner, etc.
- An audio recorder, if you want to record anything.
- If you already know some tunes, maybe a list so you can call a tune you know.
- Folding chair, sunscreen and/or hat since we will be outside.
Where is it?
- We will meet under the oak trees at Chatsworth Park North. There are bathrooms and a playground nearby.
- If it is raining or especially windy, we might meet at Shanon’s Violin Academy or an alternate location. Please check back to this page or contact Shanon below to check details.
Contact Shanon for questions or to receive email reminders for upcoming jams.