Another terrifying music jam session but I played a little bit of blues and old time

Just earlier this week, I went to a music jam where I was afraid to play and so I didn’t.

Today Abby and I went to another intimidating potluck/jam session, this time hosted by Mimi Jong and Susan Wagner. Mimi had invited Abby, but hadn’t yet met me; I knew who she was through having been to an Appalasia performance with Abby at some point earlier.

This time I played a little bit. I almost didn’t, but felt that I had to start with something.

Lots of music

There was music going on outside in back of the home. Wow. It was fantastic stuff, what everyone was doing.

There was Mimi on erhu, of course. There was a keyboard and sound system set up. People on bass, guitars, drums of all kinds, claves, banjos, violin, singing, you name it. All kinds of music was being jammed to. A lot of Latin music, sung by someone who seemed a native Spanish speaker.

I recognized a violinist as being someone who had played Baroque violin at a recital I had been at in April.

In any case, there were clearly a lot of professional musicians here and so I felt really intimidated. I did a lot of watching and listening and quite enjoyed experiencing joy and inventiveness unfold.

It was fascinating seeing Mimi kicking off “Summertime” on erhu. Hey, why not?

Some of the Latin and Brazilian songs I knew the melodies for, and if I only knew all lyrics and could actually sing, I would have wanted to join in for.

Joining in

But Mimi encouraged Abby and me to join in. At some point, Abby did join in.

Part of the problem for me, besides the fact that I felt naked and helpless without a music score to read, was that I’d brought one case of instruments this time, which included some recorders as well as a Baroque flute, and it didn’t seem like any of these instruments was really suitable for the occasion. In my hurry to arrive at the potluck already running late, I had forgotten to bring my modern flute!

I did the best I could and took out my Baroque flute and tried joining in. Some old time music came on and I found it not so difficult to do something for that, although nothing I was proud of.

What I remember mainly is when Mimi started some blues and at some point I came in and gave it a shot, and although I didn’t last very long, I got something in that wasn’t totally horrible. Somehow that was very liberating, getting those few seconds in for the evening. At least I didn’t walk away from the party this evening without playing anything at all.


Attending this potluck/jam session was an immensely exciting experience for me. I feel like I am truly expanding my musical world, and getting inspired. I too would like to be singing my favorite Latin songs. And I really like blues improvisation. I will start doing these things eventually; they are no longer just remote possibilities, but what I have seen people doing in front of my own eyes and not in an impersonal concert but at a casual, fun party.

(Update of 2013-01-28)

Six months later, I participated in my first blues jam.

(Update of 2013-09-28)

Over a year later, I reported on participating in a music jam at another one of these parties with Mimi.

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