Should I start with jam class versus lessons or a class specializing in my instrument?

A Wernick Method jam class or camp is the ideal first step for any new bluegrass musician, providing all that’s needed to play with others, including the presence of other learning pickers. With just a few chords, a new player can participate, playing real bluegrass in a slow-speed student jam. Learning to make music in a small circle is top priority — everything is built on playing real songs with correct timing and chords, at first keeping simple rhythm and building from there. We teach many of the main skills — rhythm technique on your instrument, finding melodies and learning new songs on the fly — vital skills instilled when playing in a small group, all monitored by your teacher or a coach.

These are all skills that can be taught to a roomful of people playing different instruments, so some instrumental skills are taught even with a mix of instruments present.

Lessons and music camps designed to teach instrumental skills can be of great help once a person is playing regularly with others. Opportunities to play with others are at least as important as piling up skills focused on just one instrument, and not ensemble music. Wernick Method camps and classes focus on playing real bluegrass in small groups, with singing and a typical balance of instruments.

“I’d taken guitar lessons for a few months, and had been trying to teach myself the basics on the fiddle (with lots of help from my dad, who can play just about anything that has strings!). During camp, it was a struggle the first day, just to get my instruments out of their case – I was terrified to play in front of anyone! By the end of the week, I was having such a great time that I’d forgotten about the fear of making a mistake! Everyone was VERY patient and encouraging, telling how they felt the first time they tried jamming, and helping me learn at my own pace….without their support, I would never have made it to that ‘first rung of the ladder,’ (as Pete describes it).”

“I learned more in this jam class than I have in the 4 years I’ve had my banjo.”

“The jam setting, and the correct way to jam, etiquette, etc., are different experiences totally from taking private lessons, and/or ‘closet picking.’”

Category: General
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