Woodbury Strings Slow Jam

2021 Update:  Starting October 19th the Slow Jam will be moved to Vermont Violins at 5 Green Tree Drive in South Burlington.  It will be organized by slow jam participant and fiddler, Danielle Doucette, and will have a rotation of leaders. It will be a combination of in person and zoom participation.  You may still get in contact with me to get on the elist as I will forward your information to Danielle who will keep you posted on the next event!  Woodbury Strings will also, upon occasion, host an online or summer outdoor slow jam, so we recommend staying on our elist as well if you are interested.  These would likely be 2 - 4 times per year at most. When you contact us please specify if you want to be on both elists or just one or the other. Thanks!

2020 Update:  During the pandemic we met once a month during the school year virtually on the second Monday from 7:30 - 8:30 pm and in person outdoors in the summer.

"I so very much appreciate the slow jam you guys host....It was just so thrilling for me to be able to actually PLAY (sort of) a few songs ... with others...AND to actually be able to pick out a few notes on most of the other tunes. I have wanted to play the fiddle for so long, this is all just so exciting!. .....so, thank you so much!....see you at the January jam!"  --Barb Matarazzo  Nov 2014

Woodbury Strings hosts "slow jams" for their students and for the general public.  The purpose of these events is to give beginning and intermediate level folk musicians (fiddlers and fretted acoustic instrumentalists) an opportunity to get together, learn new tunes, develop their skills in learning by ear, meet potential peers to create musical opportunities with, and to get connected to other groups and resources that can help musicians of any age continue to develop their skills. This method is also a helpful way to develop the ability to learn tunes better while attending full speed jam sessions. Our slow jams are teacher facilitated jam sessions where fiddle tunes are played at a slow tempo over and over in order for participants to learn along with the chord changes. This will mainly be attended by adults, but youths are welcome (under 12 must be accompanied by an adult).  Any level of ability is welcomed, but the skill level will be aimed toward beginning and intermediate level adult learners.

 Please get onto the elist so that you can be informed if there are any changes prior to each jam and also be given the link.  We will be hosting these as occasional one time events.  To get on a more regular slow jam elist see above where it says 2021 Update.  The Slow Jam will have fiddle tunes as the focus, but other instrumentalists are welcome.  We suggest fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, ukulele, viola, cello, and possibly flute (we regret that percussion and penny whistles are not good matches for this event due to the focus and goals of the group for any in person events).  To find out more about the slow jam, or to get onto our email list, contact us for more information.  The suggested donation for the slow jam is $5 - $15.  Links for online payment options will be sent to participants. New participants may be added, if they wish, to the slow jam elist to get updates and reminders of the next event. It is very important that the links we send by email for the jams not be posted on social media or any website in order to keep them safe.  In order to participate you must be on our elist. Please join us!



At the beginning of the slow jam we will go over guidelines so that everyone will feel comfortable and know what to do. We will also have handouts with suggestions and resources at each session.  Briefly, we will go around the room and those who wish to introduce a new tune or review a tune from a previous session will be welcome to do so.  It will be recommended that participants present tunes that they are able to play at a steady tempo so that they are easy to follow by others.  Participants may also request tunes for the instructors or other members to start if they do not wish to start the tune themselves.  After a brief demonstration of the chord progressions, each tune will be played at a slow tempo 3 - 4 times, and then played 1 - 2 times at a medium tempo. Tips on how to learn tunes with this method will be presented at the jam sessions.  Participation by listening is welcomed for those who feel shy!!



Members will be sent a link for Skype meetings within 24 hours or less of the upcoming Jam Session. I don't recommend signing on before 7:20 as I likely won't be on there yet and, unlike zoom, anyone who has the link can jump in at any time and open it up. Use either "speaker view" or "together mode" from the viewing options tab. Make sure that your microphone is turned off at all times unless you would like to ask a question. Other participants have the capacity to turn off someone's microphone who put it on by mistake, so that I don't have to stop playing in order to do so. Members can suggest tunes or ask questions in the chat. If there are no suggestions, I'll offer some.

The purpose of slow jam is to develop your ear for learning tunes without the aid of sheet music (during the event--if you need the sheet music to support your learning otherwise, while less ideal, it's a gateway to learning for some so we won't admonish it in any way!). Try to play what you hear as it is passing by you. The focus is less about learning the tune than it is increasing your ability to copy what you hear on the fly. Best to think less about it and even just close your eyes and let the process work in your subconscious if you can! It's less effective to try to remember the order of things than to try to get the melody humming in your head (or out loud) and increasing your instincts for "matching" what you hear as opposed to "remembering" what you did previously. Your muscle memory will take care of the remembering as it begins to develop more fully. I hope this makes some kind of sense! For some of us this comes easily and naturally but most have to struggle at the beginning. Part of it is familiarity with how your instrument works while simultaneously building your ability to play by ear.  There are other formats for learning by ear. Slow Jam is built on the act of learning while the tune is being played continuously and slowly. This should help you get better at sitting in on medium and fast jams eventually!



To find a list of tunes that we may be using for the jam, check out our contradance band lab page.  Woodbury Strings hosts quarterly contradances that slow jam participants are welcome to play with the band in if they wish.  Also, check out our  TUNE BANK. for more fun tunes that can be played at the slow jam and are not necessarily appropriate for contradances!