Those of us bluegrass veterans who have been playing since the 1960s or ’70s are given to occasional wonder at the many innovations that have occurred in instructional technology since we learned to play bluegrass. While a few may grouse that you haven’t lived until you’ve heard 100 hours of Lester Flatt singing at half speed, the truth is that young grassers have an almost ridiculous array of online tools at their disposal when they take up the fiddle or the banjo today.
Anyone with a phone and an Internet or wireless connection can access professional instruction from anywhere in the world, and most computers, tablets, and even modern smart TVs can hook you up with Skype or FaceTime lessons. Multiple educational sites exist where you can purchase and view prepared lessons for your favorite instrument, or subscribe to a lesson program on a monthly or annual basis.
A new one, to us at least, is called Jam Along Music Method, geared specifically to bluegrass music. They offer a great many lessons for banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and guitar that can be purchased in bundles for beginners, as individual lessons, or you can sign up as a subscriber at multiple levels that offer unlimited access to the various offerings on the site. A total of five instructors create the lesson videos, and at the higher subscription levels you can also request custom transcriptions for songs not currently in the library, or get live, one-on-one lessons each month from your favorite teacher.
Jam Along also creates jam lesson videos, with your instrument taken out so that you can play behind the instructor and practice the melody parts in turn.
They also host a monthly jam using Facebook Live, where anyone who has liked their page can join in the fun in real time. Free song and chart charts are provided for everyone who joins in, and you do not have to be a subscriber to participate.
The monthly Facebook jams are held the last Friday of every month starting at 7:00 p.m. PST, or 10:00 p.m. EST. What a great way to get your feet wet jamming, and without the worry of embarrassing yourself in public!
Find all the details about this online resource at JamAlong.org.