Reasons for the Reasons Page:
· An email discussion broke out between members of our group when I mentioned that I had scheduled the very first jam and no
one had joined in within 3 days. People were suggesting we wing it rather than have things planned. I knew they were well
intentioned but I knew that doing this would backfire as was later proven when I made the same mistake myself the night we
lost the first location (we had a really good singer and I broke schedule hoping to hear more of her great singing). Anyway,
getting back to the discussion I was busy preparing for the first jam and didn't have time for a lot of back and forth emails (they
can be very time consuming). So instead I decided to collect all the reasons I have for doing things a certain way as I think of
them and put them on this page. That way people can read them before giving suggestions or I can cut and paste them to
emails to explain why things are done. If they have read them and still have good ideas that is great. I am all ears.
Keeping the location procedures and their reasoning:
· Obviously it is better not to pay $20 per hour to jam ($100 per jam if you include my setup time and take down time). The only
way to cut this cost is to jam at a restaurant/bar. They want us to increase their revenue by purchasing things and not driving
existing regulars away. In return we get free space to play/sing (bear in mind when we buy something we get something in
return). To pull this off our jams have to appear like performances (high quality jams). This requires planning.
· In the first jam we had some serious performance issues with speeding up and breaking the standard jazz structure. This gave
me serious concerns that we may lose the location. After researching 240 locations and the Local's being near the end of the
list I believe I won't be able to find a replacement. Therefore I am not willing to risk losing it. These are the steps I am going to
take to keep it.
· Exceeding the speed while performing in front of an audience is not fair on players who have practiced the song only up to the
speed indicated on the website. It is also unfair on the audience. The audience won't notice the occasional error nor care but
they will notice us speeding up. As a result I am going to use either BIAB with drums on every song or a drummer who keeps us
from speeding up. If a drummer does that with a metronome with an ear piece that is great. It the drummer does not have an
ear piece metronome I will start all count ins with BIAB at the exact speed on the website and mute all instruments at bar #1 if
we don't need BIAB for any other parts. After the song is finished I will let the drummer know how well he did at keeping us from
speeding up since I can see if we finished before BIAB finished. The correct drummer for our group will look forward to this test
in a low pressure performance situation and if they can't keep us from speeding up they will buy and use an ear piece
· One way to think of playing with BIAB is to think of these live Jazz Karaoke Jams as a step up from practicing with BIAB by
yourself. It could be thought of a reward for your hard work through the week. It is performance practice to.
· If a song is short like a blues two solos is fine. But for standard 32 bar songs the rule is one solo each. BIAB will help us here.
The reasons for one solo only are below.
· As the first paragraph at the top of the home page explains we lost the first location due to not properly preplanning and
creating large gaps between songs. The jam was fun as long as we followed the preplanned schedule. Once we ran out of
songs and were searching through fake books for songs the jam was not a lot of fun especially when the audience complained.
Clearly preplanning is the way to go.
Reasons for the Switch time on the last jam page (the time of the gap between songs):
· We lost a location because the gaps between songs were too large. That occurred after the schedule was finished when we
were winging it searching fake books for common songs to play/sing. I had read a BIAB forum post where someone named
gaps between songs and as a way of helping to make the members sensitive to the importance of keeping these gaps small.
Unfortunately I didn't give it enough enforcement shall we say (not fully aware of what losing the audience really meant) and we
lost the first location due to large gaps. Including Bob's advice and this story in here will help prevent this error again. Having
said that if these jams get busy such that switching occurs the weak link will be me setting the mixer and BIAB for the next song
(something that will improve over time). The first improvement is in place. I have programmed a special checklist of popups
that adapt to the situation so that I get no more checklist popups than needed. I believe this will reduce the gaps by up to 1
Reasons Fakebooks/Songbooks are used to match up players/singers:
· If it is not obvious why the players/singers need to be using the same charts then visit this link.
Reasons for using BIAB and reasons to not be afraid of it:
Reasons for the one solo each limit:
· No one in our group is going to want to hear someone practice their soloing repeatedly trying again and again to do a good
solo because they feel the last one was not that good. For those who have this urge the solution is simple. Resist the urge to
impress. Instead try to be artistic since no one can argue against great art. The only time I get a compliment on my solos (not a
clap but a direct compliment) is when I keep them unplanned and simple with nothing more than a 2 bar motif concept I will
follow such as (A A2 B A) or (A B A C), etc (so this structure fits 8 bars in total). The reason this works is it has a nice mixture of
repetition and variation. Players who do (A,B,C,D,E etc to Z) seem as though they are lost and can't remember what they did a
minute ago. With this plan in place doing a second solo will wipe out any chance of a direct compliment. The best way to avoid
appearing insecure (which people sense when you are doing all those trying to impress fast runs) is to do the exact opposite
(use whole notes). Besides the purpose is to have fun. Don't come out if you are trying to impress people. You will deep down
inside know that everyone knows there is someone better than you are and you will just be afraid (not fun). Forget those
technical things you practice. Just hear great art in your mind and try to play it. That is what people like the most.
· As soon as one person does 2 solos others may want the same. This will push the schedule too far back and people who
initiated songs will not get to play them.
· Even if you are the only soloist if you are doing 5, 10, 15 solos you will be boring the rhythm section players who want to go to
the next song.
· I almost never memorize a song. I keep my eyes on the chart for everything ( melody, rhythm and solos). This allows me to play
a lot more songs. In a lot of jams the solos are unlimited, they pick an order and the next person looks over at the prior person
to see if they are done. If I take my eyes off the page I may get lost.
· If we always go clockwise with me being last and I am not doing rhythm it gives me a chance to fix errors in the mix. This means
the melody player often will not do the first solo but this is worth sacrificing to get a better mix.
· 12 bar blues is an exception (anything very short gets 2 solos).
Reasons to pre-planning on the web:
· To prevent public fake book fishing which increases the gap between songs beyond 4 to 5 minutes maximum. We made that
mistake and lost a very good location at the Local's Sport Pub & Grill. Fake Book fishing should be done at home so we don't
waste people's time and so the schedule goes without interruption.
· To distribute requests to play fairly (both song initiation and rhythms section requests) so no one hogs the night. Rhythm section
requests are distributed fairly the day of the jam about 9 am. Until then the requests are shown as inactive in the schedule (with
an asterisk in front). Once the players are at the jam if they agree to swap songs the computer allocated that is fine.
· To perform the above function very quickly with a single button click allowing us to hear more songs in a night. I don't want 7
bass players discussing who plays on the next song wasting people's time. The computer will make a fair decision much faster.
· To allow rusty players to prepare for songs they can play with a day or two of practice. These are after all rusty relaxed social
jams. This is not to be taken so seriously.
· To allow players to see the most popular fake books so they can save money and get the biggest bang for their buck.
· To ensure any level of difficulty of a song can be scheduled rather than just simple songs. To do this fake books are used so
others can be sure to be playing the same chords. Many jazz tunes have a chord every 2nd beat and they go pretty quick. Rusty
players need to practice for these. Simple songs can get boring. Challenge is fun.
· If a person is already on the computer, with only two mouse clicks (taking one 3 seconds) people can see the updates and
schedule and as they see others getting involved they are more likely to get involved.
· Having the fake books saves a huge amount of time. I have spent so much time emailing back and forth about songs preparing
for jams it is ridiculous. You see the Fakebook the person is using and there is no need to email them. Just schedule yourself in
maybe minute and arrive on time. So simple. No need to bother them with an email asking simple questions like "Is there a jam
· To run the equipment I use a smart checklist on my offline browser screen. When I say smart knows what checklist items to
present to me based upon four questions it asks me up front to determine the scenario. It also has a popup box for the current
checklist item so I don't have to go back and figure out where I was which slows things down and can lead to missing an item
which can cause me to have to stop the song. I figure this can reduce the gap between songs by up to 1 minute and essentially
eliminate errors. There are other smarts built in that I won't go into. I will mention that if there is switching going on it can give
me a text to read for announcing the song the players and their instruments. The same with when the song ends. This makes it
so easy with no need to worry about forgetting names.
· Simple vocal Karaoke usually has a local following of people who live close buy. The members of the jazz Karaoke group are
much more spread out (they come a long way to these jams). They are more likely to come if they know they are scheduled to
play, if they know who is coming, if they can print out the sheets for their songs rather than bring a boat load of fake books, etc. I
try to practice 7 hours a day. I would never consider even for a moment going to a jam without having this info in advance
especially if it is a long distance. So the website essentially increases the number of people who can attend.
Reason for the input forms:
· I need certain information to allow a song initiator to play/sing. The form has everything I need. Using back and forth emails
takes too much time for both of us and it increases chances of making errors.
· They let me know information I need for the jam (the info goes in the program). If they are not filled out I assume the only ones
attending are the ones who filled out the forms so I don't bring any more equipment than I need based upon the summary
counts I get. It saves work and reduces the risk on equipment. I assume if filling out a form for 1 minute is too much work for
them then travelling is too much work for them. Also the form information gets totalled telling me how many seats to reserve so
the Pub can maximize their business if it is there that night.
· No later than the fall of 2017 there will be a much faster/better way to enter the information. My web program will be on the web
host's computer where the updates you make on the form will update the schedule immediately and where the rhythm players
can just check a checkbox beside the song in the schedule to show they want to be involved.
· Like Vocal Karaoke where a song book is used and forms are filled out this Jazz Karaoke Jam does the same. Using fake
books for our song book allows more complex songs to be chosen where people can prepare in advance to join in.
· The form input and computer program tells me (how many direct boxes are needed, how many mikes and stands, how many
music stands). Considering it takes about 1.5 hours to unload the car and setup I don’t want to bring any more than I have to.
The display shows me the number of mikes I need for the night. Another reason to have it on the web. So I figure it takes me 2
minutes to move a mike stand to the car. There are four of those trips needed for a jam. That is 8 minutes per mike stand
(sometimes I carry two). So if a person fills out a form for each song that maybe is 8 minutes. Is that too much to ask? If they
don't fill out the form I don't bring the mike stand nor mike.
· Even if you play a loud instrument in the small Local’s room I may mike you because I record every jam so if you don’t fill out the
form I won’t know your coming and I won’t have a mike and I may say you can’t play because the players who filled out the
forms are really good and I want to record it so I don’t want any background solos that ruin the recording. It won’t matter if you
are the greatest sight reader in the world. So assume that if you come without filling a form you are listening only.
Reason for the song speed:
· So the initiator can indicate the speed he likes to play the song at and others can decide if they will be able to play at that
speed. If you can't play at that speed you can practice if you wish or just listen and enjoy.
· The form for initiating songs recommends song initiators choose a speed slightly lower than the original recording speed
unless the song is already very slow. If they don't have this speed at hand I have the original recording speeds on my database
and I can make the adjustment for them.
Reason for asking if you are doing a solo on the form:
· The program uses this information to do the estimated start times of each song down the left side of the schedule.
· These times tell me when the scheduled jam is full at 10 pm and when the none scheduled jam is to start if there are people
around wanting to do that. It ends at 11 pm at the latest.
· Some people have to leave by a certain time. If they schedule later in the week they can figure out if they can do two or three
songs before they have to leave. They can decide how many forms to fill out.
Reason for the estimated time on the left of the schedule:
· It helps me decide when the jam is full and roughly when the unplanned might occur if there is time for it.
· This is to respect people's time that they say they normally have to leave. On the very first jam I used this exactly as I planned.
Someone had to leave by 9 pm. So he put himself in for two songs such that he could leave by that time. I decided we should
take a break so socialize since it was a small group of us and then he could leave on time and the rest of us could continue.
Without these estimated times doing this would not be possible.
Reason to delay certain instruments like bass and drums from being active until jam day:
· This is so they can share the benefits of being in the rhythm section evenly and fairly. You can still see if your instrument is in the
schedule inactive during the week because it is marked with an asterisk (the first opening gets assigned as active - during the
assignment on jam day things get assigned on a shared equal then first come first serve basis). Drummers or really good sight
readers can send me an email saying they want to be in the whole night and I can click a button to put them in the whole night
saving them all the extra work of filling out the forms for a lot of songs.
· Now that I am using "first come first serve stage slots" such that drums could be playing with bongs out front of the drums
shoving piano and guitar forward potentially leaving room for only 1 horn or 1 vocalist on some songs I will have to rotate all
instruments through either 1 slot or 2 slots depending on what is available. This only occurs if things get busy of course.
Reasons for my doing the jams on my own even if other's can't attend:
· I was originally planning on doing BIAB live performance before I got the Jazz Karaoke Jams idea New Years Eve
Social Jazz Karaoke Jams" idea was simply a way to make it more fun (the more the merrier). For a longer list of reasons see