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Jamming Without Friends

One of the most important aspects of playing old-time music is the communal participation of playing the music with other people. However, sometimes that option doesn't exist. Thankfully, there's an "app for that" -- or at least there's a good website anyway.

Last December, Josh Turknett, a member of the Banjo Hangout wrote about a new webpage he had created, called The Old Time Jam, which features a music players with backup music tracks (with guitar, fiddle and banjo) to many traditional fiddle tunes.

When you go to the site, you see at the bottom a music player, called The Old-Time Machine, which gives you the option of playing with two different speeds of a guitar track or a combination of guitar-fiddle, guitar-banjo, or fiddle-banjo. It also shows the chord changes to help you learn a tune by ear.

If you've never been to a jam or want to improve your skills of playing with others, The Old Time Jam site is a great tool. It's also just a fun way to play at home without feeling like you're playing alone.

I've been attending a local monthly jam since May 2010, which has greatly improved my playing, but practicing some of the tunes I know along with the Old Time Jam site has helped my ability to translate my home practice to the jam setting.

Some of the versions of the tunes on the website may not match the version you know, but that has helped me to learn how to follow the fiddler and adjust my playing. I even call out "one more time" and kick out my foot to signal the end of a tune. I recommend giving The Old-Time Machine a try.

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