The Benefits of Playing Music in Group Sessions – Leavenworth Times


Matt Nowak

I believe in the value of playing musical instruments and so I often look for ways to not only learn to play better, but perhaps more importantly, ways to play with other people. I don’t know if learning to play an instrument makes you smarter, but playing with other people is a great social experience.

Obviously, I have to spend more time learning to play alone than playing with others, simply because I need to know how to play the instrument well.

Playing alone can be frustrating, however, because you hear every mistake you make and because some of us tend to let perfection get in the way of progress. It’s a good reason to play with others, especially in a big group where your mistakes are drowned out by others who play better than you.

I’ve been to a few workshops where I’ve gotten this benefit of sounding good even though I know I missed a few notes or bars. In fact, one of my violin teachers says that if you get caught in a situation where they’re playing too fast for you to read and follow, then just play the bigger notes like quarter notes and half notes and skip those. series of eighth notes. for the moment.

Or you can just play the chords or the root note of the chord. Don’t let perfection stop you from progressing.

Ukulele bands are a particularly easy way to start playing an instrument with a band because they always play chords and you can play a lot of songs once you know a handful of chords. Playing uke is probably more about learning to strum different rhythms and there are some great bands nearby. One plays once a month on Saturdays at the Monticello branch of the Johnson County Public Library in Olathe.

Our senior group at Leavenworth used to play every Monday, but we were postponed until the COVID situation got a lot better.

I considered going to a music camp to learn more methods and tunes of the violin, however, these camps can be a bit expensive and then there is the cost of transport, food and sometimes accommodation . For my money I always choose to play with the Drunken Fiddles band because it’s a regular session, close by and I can play at least three days a week and it costs less for a year than most camps cost for a week or even a long weekend.

Besides, I don’t know if I could play all day for a week without getting tired. At Drunken Fiddles, you can attend Beginner’s Hour or Intermediate Player’s Hour, or I attend both hours. I can handle so much playing for a night or an afternoon. I highly recommend joining as there are only 10 attendees in Lawrence and up to 40 in Kansas City at the Golden Ox in the Bottoms.

I wonder if she has enough time to develop another day to play Leavenworth. Let me or Laurel know if you would be attending regular sessions here.

Another option that has no cost except to get there and maybe bring a potluck to some places is to find one of the many jam sessions that take place in that area. Look up Steve Mason online and sign up for his weekly newsletter where he lists all active jam sessions, mostly for old-school fiddle and bluegrass genres and usually only for acoustic instruments.

Before COVID, Steve’s list printed over a dozen pages. There were just as many active jam sessions and pretty much every night of the week.

I think playing in a band is a great benefit for society because it makes me feel good to play together and make good music, at least in the genres that interest me. It’s better than sitting in front of a digital device playing games by yourself, and it may be better for your brain. It must be better for humanity.

Matt Nowak plays violin and ukulele. He lives in Lansing.


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