What should I bring to class?

  • Songs to sing, whether memorized or in songbooks or any printed version. An iPad on a stand is a useful jam tool if you can get online to a lyrics website. A variety of good songs is the heart and soul of a good jam!
  • A clip-on electronic tuner – a “must”, $20 or less at music stores or online. Get comfortable using it. We recommend the D’Addario tuner, small enough to be left on your instrument full-time. Keep spare batteries. Tune early, tune often!
  • A recording device (can be your smart phone). Besides recording some of the teaching, it’s often useful to record songs as you jam – especially new ones you want to learn. You can play along with your recording later, with earphones or other amplification.
  • Banjo and dobro players must bring and have practiced playing with a thumb pick and two finger picks.
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Should I buy training videos or books to prepare?

One of the best things to do is to learn new songs. We recommend our JAM Songbook with 39 songs in large print, with online playlists of all the songs, to help you learn any of them by ear. You will receive a copy of the book at your first Wernick Method class but, as with Pete’s earlier Bluegrass Songbook and play-along videos, working with one before class will help you prepare. The videos (which come with a downloadable lyric/chord book) will get you following new songs in real time, and learning them in the process.

It’s ideal to practice singing songs you like, and to experiment with different keys to see which works best for each song. Commit the verses to memory if you can, though it’s OK to have a page nearby for reference.

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What songs should I practice beforehand?

There are no specific songs to practice. Practice some good ones you like, that others might enjoy playing too. Advance emailed class materials include a mini-songbook with some good choices. You’ll want to practice a few to do in a small group setting. Know the chords and practice the song (in-tune singing not required) with the words in front of you. Try after a while to not need to read the words. Most of the songs in the class will probably be new to you, so the skill in play will be: “learn new songs more quickly”.

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Any advice for future jam campers?

Jam Camp requirements are simple, but preparation is important. From previous jam students:

“Have fun and enjoy, you’ll be very impressed how much you’ll learn during the camp.”
— Gerald (TX)

“Pete and his assistants will help and encourage you, and occasionally nudge you along. Some campers are a little uncomfortable or shy in the beginning but that’s expected, and once you get started you will see that it is easier than what you may have thought. Their job is to move you gently out of your comfort zone to learn to play bluegrass with others, and have an enjoyable time.”

“Far too many instruction methods teach a bluegrass instrument in a way quite isolated from what it means to be a functional bluegrass musician. They teach solos, to be read from a page, where playing bluegrass involves active use of (learnable) ear skills and awareness of/ involvement in a team effort.”

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How should I prepare for my jam class?

Any time someone goes to a jam (or a Wernick Method class), bringing a song or two or three to sing is a very welcome contribution. To prepare, choose a few songs you like, and practice them in the keys you will sing and play them comfortably in. Try to commit the words to memory if possible, so you can confidently lead the song without hesitating or blanking out! … though it’s OK to still keep the words in front of you, for backup. What songs to choose? Pick some relatively easy ones from any of Pete’s jam videos or songbooks, or any other songbook. The 10 songs in the PDF you’ll be sent prior to class are all good choices.

One of the best ways to prepare is to try to find the melody of a song (that you know well enough to hum, perhaps one you will lead in the jam) on the neck of your instrument, trial-and-error style… and then fashion a solo based on that melody.

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