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Big Jam Change - feedback wanted!

From: Sue B.
Sent on: Friday, May 1, 2009 7:37 AM
Dear Members:

Our jam has been operating for a little more than a year! Congratulations to everyone for helping it evolve and grow.

An anniversersary is a great opportunity to assess how things are going. Therefore, I have been thinking about the jam and what it might need to make it an experience that everyone can enjoy and learn from. After all, this is a slow jam and most people who attend need and want guidance.

As the jam has evolved, I have come to the conclusion that we need consistent, experienced leaders to run it. While I can organize this event, I cannot lead it. We need leaders with years of experience and a depth of knowledge of the repetroire who can guide us, lead songs in a speed that is appropriate to the group, and help other learn how to lead songs. While we are very lucky to have experienced players (thank you Bill and Dave and Sarah and AJ) who come to the jam often and play a leadership role, understandably their presence is not consistent. When we don't have experienced players at the jam, we all flounder and it is not pleasant event! This happened last week.

Therefore, I am considering changing the structure of this meetup. I would like to hire a rotating group of leaders who would lead the jam from 7:30-9:30. This means that I will need to charge a fee, so we can pay a leader. Since there are usually a healthy number of people, I believe we can pull this off with a $5.00 fee for each person that wants to participate in the jam. Up to $75 would go to the leader for a 2 hour stint. If more $$ was collected, that would go into a general pot, to be used to pay future leaders when not enough people show up to the jam. I believe that $5 is a small price to pay for such an amazing event. I would like to possibly implement this in june.

Having a leader does not mean that jam participants cannot lead songs. But it does mean that there will be a few new guidelines. For example, people would only be able to lead songs if 1) they know the song fully (including the words) 2) they are able to give out breaks effectively. This is a learned skill, and one that I think everyone should aspire to. But it takes practice and experience. And it also may take some guidance from a paid leader who will be given the authority to instruct on issues like leading songs.

In addition, each leader would choose 25-30 of their favorite bluegrass/old time songs and we would post it on the site. this would give people the opportunity to have song lists.

Finally, I want to let peole know that I don't envision a very structured "class". More to the point, I envision a forum where leaders will be available to guide us along, ensure that there is a contstant stream of songs being lead, and facilitate an amazing experience that is specifically geared to an advanced beginner/intermediate level of player.

I know this is a long e-mail. That's my habit! I would love for people to discuss this on the message board. DON'T reply to my message, as it will not go to the group. In order for a group discussion to happen, it needs to be opened up on the message board. Look to the left and click on Message Board.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Don't hold back!! Let me know if you love, hate or are indifferent to the idea.

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