SOME people can both PLAY and LISTEN!

Red HenryA thought occurred to me last Saturday, when we were picking at my birthday party in Nashville. All the folks in the jam could play quite well, and it was a big jam. There were 13 or 14 of us in the picking circle, including two or three banjos, two mandolins, half a dozen or so guitars, three or four fiddles, and a bass. Normally in a group that size, the mandolin players and lead guitar players can't be heard at all, even when they're playing a lead break. But you know what? In this jam, EVERYBODY could be heard. NOBODY got drowned out---not the mandolin players, not the lead guitar players, NOBODY.

This was because all the pickers in the jam were not only good PLAYERS, but good LISTENERS too. Everybody LISTENED to what was going on---to whoever was playing lead or singing at that moment---and made sure that the lead got heard. This meant, in several cases, that pickers would stop playing entirely during a quietly-sung verse or a softly-played lead break. But it sure was good for the music.

Remember that good musicianship includes not only PLAYING, but LISTENING too. One mark of a really good musician is that he or she is always trying to make the GROUP sound good. That's a goal everyone can aspire to. Next time you're in a jam, don't just PLAY. LISTEN.

Posted in By Red, jamming and tagged , on by .

About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.