Folk Jam Etiquette

1.  Have fun!

2.  Join in playing the music. A community folk jam is people playing music together.  If someone nearby is looking for a seat, move over and invite them in!   Our jam is acoustic, but if you do have something to plug in, please be mindful of the volume.

3.  Tune up!  Tune first at home, then arrive at the jam a little early and check your instrument’s tuning.  Great music happens when we are all ‘together’.

4.  Mind the circle when calling your tune. The participants will each select their tune, following a clockwise rotation of turns.  Have some tunes in mind before you arrive.  Pertinent information when announcing a tune is (a) the name of the tune, (b) the key and, (c) if the tune can be located in a commonly known book, i.e. Fiddler’s Fake, or Portland Collections.  Let the group know which book as well as the page number.  If the tune has unusual chords, please point them out.  You may also ‘pass’ or skip your turn.  If you don’t know the tune, then play very quietly until you ‘get it’.

5.  The person who starts the tune ends it.  This may be accomplished verbally by calling out (don’t be shy!)  “Out!” or “This is it!” or “Last time!” during the last time through the tune.  Another indication the tune is ending is to stick your foot out.  Whichever way, finish the tune and then the next person calls theirs.  Tunes are usually played at least 3 times, but not more than 8.  If you falter and make a huge mistake, it is not ever counted against you.  Take a deep breath and continue on.  If you need help, someone will help get the tune going again.

6.  Do not outshine the leader!  If you know the tune play out, and if it’s new to you, hold back.  Try not to play louder than the person leading the tune.

7.  Do not forsake the beat!  Keep up with the leader of the tune.  If you can not play the tune up to speed, listen for a while, play very quietly, play chords, or just the notes you can ‘hear’.  If you have/need the sheet music, don’t be shy about using it until you are familiar with the tune.

8.  There are many wonderful songs with clean lyrics.  Be mindful of others’ standards.

9.  Never enter or leave the circle in the middle of a tune.  There’s plenty of time between tunes to join in or pack up to leave.  That goes for taking a short break away from the jam, too.

10.  Refer to #1!