Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.
Maybe you have been playing your instrument for years or maybe you are a beginner. Either way, if you ask a musician friend who has been out playing paid gigs, he might not be as entertained by the experience of “jamming for the fun of it” as you would, and there are plenty of reasons as to why that would be.
So, let’s just say that the friend in question is me. Let me explain each situation from my perspective. I have been out playing paid gigs for a while. That means that I have reached a certain level of professionalism. Maybe you would like to be in a band with me and you want the opportunity to sell yourself to me, for that purpose. Maybe you didn’t tell me that when asking me to come over.
Now let’s just say that I was never interested in being in a band situation with you and thought I had made that clear to you. It could be for any number of reasons, not just your skill level. But in any case, I’m not interested and once I discover what your ulterior motive is, I will be annoyed.
You Start Playing Songs You Think Your Friend “Should Learn”
Everybody has their own taste in music and the same is true of musicians. Now you want to start playing some songs on your stereo you think I should learn. One or two might be one thing but do one after another and watch my reactions. Does it look like I am getting annoyed now? Maybe I didn’t come over to learn new material. Maybe I just came over thinking that you might just want to learn a few things from me.
If I have been out playing paid gigs for a while, there probably is a big repertoire I must keep up on. And if I don’t keep up on them by practicing them, I will forget them. I probably went through a lot of effort to learn those songs and I probably must continue to put in a lot of effort to stay up on them. The last thing I need to do is learn songs I don’t really want to learn.
I only really make the effort to learn a new song if it falls under certain criteria. It must be a song I would want to add to my repertoire, or it has a technique of some kind I would like to learn or become more proficient at. As far as learning a song I would want to add to my repertoire, it must be something I could sing as well as play guitar to, since I primarily play out as an acoustic solo act.
So don’t go playing songs for me to learn, one after another, let me just teach you something new. It would be a win/win situation for the both of us. You get to learn something new, and I have the satisfaction of having helped you to learn it. To me, that is fun and a lot of people who are just starting to take up a musical instrument enjoy learning new things too.
Multiple People Getting in the Way
Okay, it turns out that there are a few more people present than I had anticipated seeing when you invited me over. Maybe I’ll shrug it off at first. But when that one other guy who is your friend starts banging on the drums, not having a clue as to what he is doing, while I am trying to show you the chord progression on the song we are jamming on, he is starting to become quite the nuisance. A real source of irritation. Not fun. Not fun at all. I am now becoming annoyed.
Not only is that guy banging on the drums a nuisance, but his wife and kids are there, and the kids are playing with my expensive musical equipment, but the parents don’t have either the sense or the decency to tell them not to touch it. Sure, just let your kid knock over one of my guitars onto the floor. What’s a few more dents, scratches and nicks? After all, it’s all for the sake of fun.
Oh, it turns out it was a party and it’s a free-for-all on all the instruments. Everybody who wants to, will decide they can just walk on up, grab an instrument without asking the owner of the said instrument and start to bang on it, making nothing but noise. And the people who are doing it are drunk and you have to worry about them ruining your equipment. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?
Another thing that I fun is a drunken idiot taking it upon himself to get up on the mic start screaming a song well above his vocal range, sounding like hell at high volumes.
Not Enough Room for the People Jamming
I was expecting only a few people, but a bunch of people show up. Some guy shows up with a drum set, some guy shows up with his bass and a big bass amp and cabinet.d then a so-called, self-described “singer” shows up with a large PA system. The really sad part is that it is all crammed into one small room in your house.
The drummer is not an experienced one and he hammers on the drums at high volume levels. Then, to keep up with his volume level, everyone else cranks their amp. Being in a small room, this makes for a very annoyingly loud situation. Also, it is quite cramped. A crash cymbal is right next to my head, practically a few inches from my left ear. Then I try to play a song and the out-of-time drummer hits it out of time throwing off my playing. Yeah, lots of fun jamming just for the fun of it.
To me, a worst-case scenario would be an occasion where all these things or any combination of these things were to take place. I mention these various scenarios only because I have experienced them myself. On some occasions, I did experience a combination of the annoyances I have just described.
The Host is Responsible for the Whole Thing
Ultimately, you as the host are responsible for the whole thing. When you invite a bunch of people over that have hyper kids and you know the parents don’t keep after them, you need to tell the parents to watch their kids, so they don’t just go up and start touching someone’s equipment. You also need to tell that one drunken jerk to get off the mic so that someone with singing ability can get back on the mic.
Maybe you shouldn’t invite a load of people over either. Or at least let your jamming for fun buddy know you are going to have a lot of people over and that it’s not going to be just the two of you. Try to look at things from the other guy’s point of view and really think as to whether it might actually be more fun than a nuisance.
I realize that, to some, I might be coming off as either a Primadonna or a snob. But when you have had a guitar knocked over by someone, resulting in a serious dent or have some guy crank a song, “you should learn”, full blast through a speaker five inches from your head or have their kids play with your equipment without being told by the parents to stop, you might feel differently. But at least now you know why jamming for the fun of itmay not really be that fun or fun at all for some people.
© 2021 Bob Craypoe