Stephen Seifert

Mountain Dulcimer Player

LEARN TO JAM

How 'bout a little jam? Here's 8 play along videos at various speeds. I'm also including a bunch of tablature. I'm looking forward to a little discussion about what could make this kind of virtual jamming more helpful. Try it all out and let me know?

(These samples are from my Join the Jam Video Play Along Series, Volume 1. Also check out Join the Jam Video Play Along Series, Volume 2.)

The slow versions are pretty much just like in Join the Jam but I do vary the right hand a bit for variety. The basics of my strum:

1) Move out and in four times per measure even if the pick isn't hitting the strings. 
2) Predominantly, hit the strings on every out.
3) Improvise allowing the pick to hit the strings on the out and the in from time to time.
4) Sometimes, don't hit anything for a beat or two.

The medium versions start like in Join the Jam but I eventually start subtly changing the melody as well as playing backup just like in a real jam. (Our goal is to play these tunes a little bit different every time.)  

The fast versions are most like what I do in a real jam. I absolutly don't want to be academic here. This is really me doing what I really do in a real jam.

If you don't know these tunes:

1) Just watch and listen.

2) Sing along. (It's normal to just get bits and pieces at first.)

3) Sing the fret numbers. (Bits and pieces is the goal.)

4) Just strum and try to get the jist of what I'm doing with my right hand. Notice the constant alternating.

5) Fret only without strumming. Fret in a kind of abreviated way. Don't look at your hand. Just approximate what I'm doing with my fretting without constantly checking to see if your hand is in the right place. Just shoot for being in the general area of the fingerboard. This will give you the big picture. Focusing on the details too much AT FIRST leads to slow progress and discouragement. 

6) Go for low-hanging fruit, as Jerry Rockwell likes to say. Just enjoy what you're ABLE to grasp. Absolutuly don't get all upset about the stuff that escapes your attention and abilities. Focus on what's easy. You've got the rest of your life to fill in the gaps.

7) Don't disengage. Don't throw your hands up. Get in there and hang on for dear life. You've got all the above ways and more to pay attention. As long as you show up, you'll at least get a C. (My college strategy for the hard classes I had trouble relating to.) With music, you've got the rest of your life to turn that C into a B or A.

8) Try all three tablatures. See which one works best for you. Keep your eyes on the paper. Stop looking at your hands so much. Allow your fretting to be a bit sloppy for a time so you can focus on the paper. You can even try just playing the first note of every measure until you get used to moving your eyes around the paper as I play with you. Again, just focus on being in the general area. The first priority is to not be lost on the page. There's lots of times I just read through a paper a time or two as others are playing without even playing a sing note.

9) Are variations throwing you off? Work at not letting it bother you. A real jam is a living breathing work of art. Experienced traditional musicians never play the tune exactly the same way twice. Learn to hang with this rustic approach to learning and playing. This kind of music is rough around the edges and there's nothing wrong with that.

10) Don't worry about memorizing or learning these tunes. Just play along best you can, faking it until you make it. (I'm still faking it!) Just chase the tune around the room until it flies off. You'll see it again.

11) ** BIG DEAL - DON'T SKIP ** Before you play along with the videos below, you FOR SURE should review this 30-minute lesson on how to read hands: https://youtu.be/eq_zCBbkHcc (I can't stress this enough.)

12) Don't just stick to one method. Try everything: by the tab, by ear, by reading hands. Come at this stuff from every possible angle. You'll be better at some methods but don't discount the others. They can all work together beautifully. 

Tablature

There are three tablatures for each tune. One is a copy from my book Join the Jam. One is an alternative somewhat like what I see in my head. The last is a quarter-note version especially good for beginners or anyone wanting to focus on the barebones. All eight PDFs are inside a ZIP file that you'll want to decompress/extract to your computer.

Download the tablature here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/d2d85vje20qwsl7/Stephen%20Seifert%20Play%20Along%20Tablatures.zip

The play along links:

Bile Them Cabbage Down - Slow
http://youtu.be/smW-nHlSNTU

Bile Them Cabbage Down - Medium
http://youtu.be/7t7f7VwSFts

Bile Them Cabbage Down - Fast
http://youtu.be/Gk9jkRW_01g

Old Joe Clark - Slow
http://youtu.be/74zIw87aWOA

Old Joe Clark - Medium
http://youtu.be/H8MDT2OukmI

Old Joe Clark - Fast
http://youtu.be/tWlQkLLOAi8

Amazing Grace - Slow
http://youtu.be/38MIr0ag38M

Amazing Grace - Medium
http://youtu.be/I2tAuXng_AA