JAM Top 40 Tunes of Old Time and Bluegrass


JAM Top 40 Tunes of Old Time and Bluegrass, Volume 1

“JAM Top 40 Tunes of Old Time and Bluegrass, Volume 1” comprises a set of 10 tunes commonly played across Appalachia for the most common instruments in Appalachian music (in no particular order):

  • Bass
  • Guitar
  • Three-Finger Banjo
  • Clawhammer Banjo
  • Mandolin
  • Fiddle

A variety of notation systems transmit the tunes for the different instruments, depending on what is likely to be 1) most familiar to students already learning from written music systems for specific string instruments, and 2) most frequently encountered throughout their time as a learning musician.

The book also covers the basic how-to for reading different systems of notation, and has dedicated introductions to each instrument and any special notations or markings that apply.

The tunes were selected by JAM, and our versions were created and transcribed by seasoned musicians and JAM instructors from North Carolina and Virginia, and are sequenced loosely by an estimated degree-of-difficulty.

These aren’t “sanctioned” or “official” versions of these tunes, but points-of-departure for you and your team to quickly get kids playing together without having to reinvent the wheel. The books are available at no charge for affiliate program instructors with their students; they are not to be given to students to take home with them, with exceptions being made for advanced and responsible students, to the discretion of program instructors. Affiliates can make copies of tunes to share with your JAM students who want them. To request free copies, please click here.

The tunebook is a great resource to jumpstart your program’s repertoire on its own, but it will also provide a cordless companion to our developing JAM App!

The JAM App: Version 1 is online now!

To help increase student contact time with instructional content without the need for paper copies of tune books, and reach our kids where they are (on screens!), JAM has developed a digital instructional toolkit to accompany the Tunebook. We are partnering with Soundslice – who provides the technology behind renowned instructional platforms like TrueFire and World Music Method – to connect your students with an array of learning tools that meet a variety of learning styles – including being able to see someone playing the tune, and a lot more.

Instructors and students can take advantage of this amazing tool by sending an email to [email protected] to request access to the online courses containing all the tunes for each instrument. You’ll get a link in your email from soundslice.com that gives you access to the online tunes.


  • First, you can sign up for a free Soundslice account at soundslice.com with your email address on any device you would use for playback of online audio/video: iPad, smartphone, browser window, etc.
  • Then, join the JAM instrument courses to access the content for your students by emailing us at [email protected] from the account you will use to access soundslice. You will receive a link to access all the courses as a director, the courses you are teaching as an instructor (or are just curious about – just ask for access).
  • Finally, please forward your student’s (or parent/guardian) email addresses to us at [email protected], so the students can be given course access by instrument at home.

How to use
Soundslice has an excellent help section, and a quick start guide for beginners. Direct specific questions not covered by the help pages to [email protected]

There are an amazing number of features immediately available, including:

  • loop sections
  • toggle metronome and count-in on/off
  • see a simulation of fingers on a fretboard/fingerboard, in-time (like the Guitar Hero video game)
  • speed up or slow down tempo
  • make practice clips
  • customize notation layouts
  • toggle on/off different notation types and pitch names
  • see the notes as they would appear on a piano keyboard
  • and – print .pdfs of tune notation for your students identical to the tune book!

The example on this page is fully functional, so check it out!

We want your feedback!
We’ve been testing the app out this summer with a small number of students, and so far the results have been great! We’ve had students as young as 8 using it to learn a tune – to be leading it at a jam in the Friday Night Jamboree in Floyd two weeks later! Let us know your and your student’s experience with these tools!
Email JAM at [email protected].

Virtual JAM Fiddler’s Convention Contest – Fall ’23

One of the most valuable features Soundslice offers is the ability to include recordings of audio and video in addition to the notation and synthetic playback, giving learners the chance to see and hear actual performances of the tune, as in our sample.

We want to have your students have the opportunity to show their stuff, and make a mark on the JAM App’s development, so, we are inviting your students to compete to have their videos included as the example video for the app in our Virtual JAM Fiddler’s Convention Contest.

JAM will provide some exciting incentives for your kids to participate, including professional music accessories as prizes. Details of this session-long contest will be announced soon!