Changing Tunes in a Set

People who have never seen a session before often comment that “Wow, you guys just seem to know how to start a different song without saying anything. It’s like magic!”

It’s not really magic. It’s just a pattern that people get used to.

The “usual” set is three tunes, played three times each. (Not a rule, just a pattern.)

That means after you’ve played a tune three times, it doesn’t take much communication to get people to change to the next tune. The same goes for ending the set.

Here are the common ways I use to communicate switching tunes. Each conveys a little less information than the one before.


Certain things that work in a band are weird in a session. In particular, some people come to a session and give “The Foot” when they want to change tunes. That feels a little bossy to me. I’m drinking beer, don’t tell me what to do.