Maybe that comes from my early years in middle and high school band where we always had to practice a piece to death before we dared to perform it in front of anyone.
Even years after replacing my bass clarinet with a guitar I felt much more comfortable playing songs I knew or had rehearsed when performing around other people.
That changed, however, after participating in a jam session at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, and after getting a few helpful hints from jam master Gilbert Nelson.
Gilbert, who plays a variety of instruments, sings and knows just about every song you can think of, is a patient, coherent and enthusiastic jam instructor. He makes musical collaboration simple and fun.
After sitting down with Gilbert for a few minutes I learned the one essential element of jamming: listening. He also demonstrated how to discern patterns and anticipate chord changes.
While it started out with just the two of us, it wasn’t long before we were joined by several others, adding bass, dobros, mandolins, fiddle, banjo and more guitars to the happy mix. Four hours later I reluctantly bowed out of the jam, having relieved my anxiety about jamming, made a bunch of new friends and furthered my musical education.
Gilbert, who resides in South Carolina, specializes in bluegrass music, but appears to be well rounded in a wide variety of genres. He teaches jamming classes and also hosts jam camps.
More information on Gilbert is available by clicking here ( http://www.gilbertnelson.com/jam-classes/).