Like a Boy Scout

Be prepared. That's what I learned this week.

While I was in the middle of a project in midtown, I got an unexpected call from a musician who is, shall we say, famous. "Can you be at a jam session in a couple hours?" he asked.

No warning, no music- no instrument, even- I was just told where to show up and there would be a guitar waiting for me.

A couple of things went through my head: "I can't believe who I'm talking to." and "I'm going to look like an idiot in front of these people."

I looked for a comfort zone and asked, "Can I get a recording or music beforehand?"

"Nah, you don't need it," he replied. "We're just going to play."

Was I crapping my pants? Yeah. But then somebody close to me reminded me of a few things: that through studying improvisation I had in fact practiced to expect the unexpected, and learned how to thrive in it. She reminded me that unfamiliar situations were what I had prepared for and that's all this was, just another unfamiliar situation. Also that I should take at least 10 deep breaths.

The truth is, it was hard to keep all that in mind, but I did decide to let go of being intimidated by the situation and instead, just grasp the opportunity- and I'm happy to say for the most part I did. By the end of it, I realized the advice was right. Because I had constantly kept practicing and primed my myself for challenges and unexpected performances, everything turned out pretty well.

So how did the one hour jam session go? It ended up being closer to three hours, and I think we wrote two songs. I didn't really keep track, though. We really were just playing and enjoying the moment.


Now, check out Ricky Skaggs shred on some Bluegrass in preparation for the weekend. I'll be back next week with another Rosenwinkel Pentatonic transcription.

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