Why Jam Along CDs?
Fun and Learning!
Jam Along CDs Creator
Frank Singer writes
on how this concept developed:
Learning to Jam Early
I discovered the joys of improvising very early on as I learned to play music.
I liked to make it up as I went along, and even though I struggled at first, I soon became proficient at figuring out what to play and making it sound like I wanted.
I was also fortunate to find people to play with very quickly.
I found players that knew how to solo and those that didn't want to do anything but play rhythm guitar (a match made in heaven as far as I was concerned.)
I found players that knew rock songs and country songs, pop songs or folk music, and everyone knew the blues.
If there were two or more guitar players present after school or on the weekends, we got our instruments and a jam session quickly resulted.
It seemed that the idea that musicians jammed was obvious to everyone who played an instrument, and short of finding a place to play, there was never any problem assembling an impromptu band.
Jamming with Teachers
Throughout the process of learning to play I had the assistance of a number of fine instructors.
The teachers who taught improvisation always made a place for exchanging solos within the lessons, and I was encouraged to find other players to jam with as well.
After I graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, I had the good fortune to study privately with the renouned jazz instructor
Charlie was my final teacher in music, completing the outlay of information needed to be able to handle any musical situation I encountered.
A normal part of these advanced jazz studies was trading solos and jamming on the lesson material, which was something I always looked forward to.
Jamming with Students
As I developed my own teaching practice, I kept in mind how important these playing sessions were with my teachers, and I kept this routine as an integral part of my lessons.
I wanted to pass along the growth that occured in my playing as I heard my teachers use the material we were studying with skill and creativity.
I have found great success with this concept, and wanted my students to jam outside the lessons as my teachers had encouraged me to do.
In doing this, I have had many students express frustration with their attempts to locate other players that wanted to work on music as they did.
Perhaps it is a function of the time, but it does seem like students have more difficulty today finding other musicians to jam with.
Jam Along CDs
Throughout my studies, I have created jam recordings for myself.
At first, these were crude recordings of a rhythm guitar track or bass track, and as I became more proficient with sequencing and electronic music, I began to create more sophisticated productions.
Within the last few years I have upgraded my technology to include direct-to-hard-disc recording and combined sequencing.
I had been involved in this aspect of music in Boston, but had not kept pace with the technology for a few years.
Once I got back up to speed on the basics of the new production capabilities, I decided to prepare music for my students to jam to.
I initially created blues tracks as I like to begin my teaching with the blues.
I knew these tracks would help drummers feel the 12 Bar form, help guitar players hear the changes, and help everyone learn to keep track of the form.
As I got into the project, I realized that I could create a disc that anyone could use.
I prepared the tracks to go along with the way I teach the blues, and as I "student-tested" the CDs, I found the discs incredibly useful, productive and fun.
Anyone Can Jam
The Jam Along CDs suppliment the learning process for anyone who wants to play American Music.
Even though I would still encourage everyone to find other musicians to jam with, I also feel that these CDs give the student the opportunity to play any time they want to, and develop confidence to play more creatively in more situations, especially with other players.
Jamming is fun, and
Jam Along CDs provide an instant jam session for anyone who enjoys playing music.
From the beginner to the most advanced, these CDs can help you achieve your musical goals, develop your confidence, and most of all, have fun!
Starting off with the Blues
The first offering of
JamAlongCDs is a collection of shuffle-style blues progressions, with a number of stylistic 12-bar cycles, backing tracks from some blues songs, and more advanced progressions using harmonic mechanisms like the cycle of 5ths and substitute dominant chords.
These music background tracks are at different speeds, with many at slower tempos.
The slower tempos give players ample time to develop more complex ideas and work on more harmonic, or by-chord, approaches.
Experience has shown that holding a slow beat without loosing the tempo or loosing interest is more challenging that it sounds, and is a professional skill.
The faster tempos challenge the chops and make for a good time in the process.
Trap set players and bass players will benefit from keeping their shuffles and solos tight at high speeds.
Guitarists, keyboardists and piano players, and comping horn players will all find demonstrations of ways to accompany the rhythm section and soloists at fast and slow speeds.
For more on the Blues Jam CD, click here.
Experiencing the use of the Ionian and Dorian Modes
You have probably learned a number of major scales since you began playing your instrument.
Understanding and experiencing Modes allows you to expand your use of this important American Music tool.
JamAlongCDs Modal 1 disc offers a variety of rhythm styles to challenge you.
Included in the Ionian selections are two Ballads and a Reggae groove.
After warming up your Major Scale use on these three progressions, six Dorian progressions bring some Swing, Latin (Cha Cha), Latin-Rock, Funk, and a Jazz Waltz.
Most of these selections are based on parts of popular songs.
Moondance, Oye Como Va, Evil Ways, Mr. Magic, Chameleon, and My Favorite Things are all represented in the Dorian selections, while the Tears Loop prepares you for the two main parts of the classic Eric Clapton ballad Tears in Heaven.
For more on the Modal 1 Jam CD, click here.