Many things. One of the major differences is that every class session spends about half the time with the pickers in small circles, leading themselves in jams, each circle attended by an experienced, helpful coach. I think a student can get better help being coached while they’re jamming than in a one-on-one lesson or sitting in a class listening to a teacher.
We teach a lot of skills that are normally never taught in books or lessons, such as how to lead a song, how to learn a chord progression quickly, how to fake a solo on the fly, and so on. Many jam classes I’ve seen are more about following the teacher leading everyone. We teach jam skills and repertoire that way, but the best way to get good at jamming is to practice actual jamming… so we show them how it’s done and get them jamming!
We offer online playlists of the most popular jam songs, to learn by ear, supply handouts with the full unspoken ground rules and etiquette for jamming, and have our own songbook with the biggest possible print and chords given in numbers, to let singers pick their best key for singing.
Based on two decades of teaching jamming, we’ve tried to anticipate all needs and work hard for “customer satisfaction”. To that end, all our classes are followed by detailed student surveys which get high response rates. The students tell us what’s working and what’s not. Pete and the teachers read those surveys carefully and learn from them in an effort to keep improving. We’re not only the first to offer jam classes, we want to be by far the best!
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