If you are a fan of bluegrass music, you may be inclined to pick up a variety of different skills to adapt better to the scene. In most cases, you will probably pick up an instrument and learn to play a few chords so you can maybe start making your music. To get some inspiration, you might also find some bluegrass artists that you like so you can mimic their playing style. However, even after you have grabbed your instrument and learn how to jam away, a true bluegrass fan will, sooner or later, want to head out to a festival to meet with other aficionados of the genre. If you are getting ready for your first bluegrass festival, here are some tips to help you fit in.
Have Your Instrument Tuned
It is always a better idea if you have your instrument tuned before you head to a bluegrass festival. If you do not, you will be wasting valuable time trying to tune it, while others are out already jamming together. On top of that, if you do not tune your instrument properly, you will be sure to get a few looks from other festival attendees who do not have an appreciation for your out-of-tune music. If you do not have a tuner, you can consider buying one before the festival. Alternatively, as a worse case scenario, you may be able to find a tuner once you get to the festival. However, if you leave it till you get to the festival, then be sure that you quickly tune your instrument, so you do not waste much time. Who knows, you may even be able to make great friendships with those that you borrow the tuner for, and you could have some new mates to jam with for the rest of the festival.
Find Some Friends to Jam With
If you do not find anyone to jam with right away, then take your time finding a group that you can play with. A bluegrass festival is all about the camaraderie that you will build and the friendships that you will make. After all, a festival on your own is not going to be very fun at all. Therefore, start scoping out the scene once you get to the festival. If you play a specific instrument, then you can look for others who play the same. However, you may also be able to find a group of people with varying instruments, and all they are missing is you. If you do not feel comfortable asking to step in and play, make yourself seen on the outside of the jam session. Hold your instrument in hand and have that, “I want to play” look on your face. If the musicians are cool, they will most certainly invite you to jam with them. If not, then you can move on to the next group and try your luck there.
Find The Perfect Song To Play To
The great part about bluegrass festivals is that they are often very considerate of, “the new guy” (or gal). This means that once you approach a circle of players, they will likely let you take the lead and let you choose which song they start playing with. This means that you should be prepared before you get to the festival, that way you are not scrambling to find the perfect song when the pressure is on. After the song is finished, you will then pass off the song selection choice to the person that is next to you, and this will go on until it gets back to you. Hopefully, you make quite the impression on your fellow players, and you can start the process again. If so, this jam session could go on for hours, and you will be feeling relaxed at your first bluegrass festival before you know it.
Know When To Stop Playing
The rule of bluegrass is the person who starts the song is the one who gets to end it. Therefore, be sure that you have some idea of when it is time to call it quits. Obviously, you will not want to end it too short if you are having a great time and you do not want to leave. However, if you play for too long, then you will notice that your fellow players will likely start to get bored, and they might get frustrated that you are not getting the point. Before you head to the festival, know when the best time to end a song is. Pick up on visual cues from those that you are playing with and know when it is the right time to end. Just because the song is over, doesn’t mean that you have to stop playing altogether. It simply means it is time to move onto something new and get everyone excited about a new song. Once you are ready to finish the song, stick your foot into the middle of the circle, as this is the universal cue to symbolize that you are ready to call it quits.
Give Others Your All
Just because you do not get to pick the song, doesn’t mean that you should not be playing your best when someone else picks a song. If you are trying to make new friends and have a great time at a bluegrass festival, you will want to play your best whenever you get the chance to do so. If you do not give your all and play your best, you may be asked to leave, or you might even notice that nobody wants to jam with you in the future. You do not want to be that guy. While you are playing, look down to signify that you are grooving to the music and enjoying what you are doing. However, if ever you get lost in the song or find yourself out of key, then you can make eye contact with the leader as a symbol that it is time for you to finish. However, like you did with your turn, know when it is time to stop playing and don’t rush others when it is their chance.
Bluegrass festivals are all about being mellow and enjoying the company of those around you. You are not going to get pressured by others to play if you do not feel comfortable, and you are more likely to get support from others who want to help you be better at playing music. If you are stressed during your first bluegrass festival, everyone will know. Instead, play it cool and enjoy your time. This will make it easier for you to meet new people, play great music and have the time of your life.
If this is your first bluegrass festival, it is an opportunity to truly enjoy something new and exciting. If you follow the tips here, you will quickly fit in, and you will completely forget that you have never done this before. Moreover, once the festival is all done, you will have a new group of friends to play with, and you will likely be very excited for the next time that you all meet up and play together.