The reason you are failing at a jam or on stage is your practice is not a very good replica of the jam or the stage……If you play through a song and mess up, in a jam or on stage you don’t get to start back at the beginning and start over, you have to learn to keep going no matter what. I don’t advocate practicing mistakes yet at the same time you need to be able to play through them.
Another thing, when you are practicing, try practicing jumping from one song into the next, cold and fast, play a song and once you are done, give yourself only about five seconds and start a new one….don’t give yourself “setup” time, or warmup time to run through the tune. In a jam people don’t allow you to practice your break before they start the song. This is of course fine inside the lesson room with myself but you need to get to the point that you don’t depend on this, otherwise……you’re dead meat, lol
If you can’t play the songs immediately/cold then there is still work to do. By the way, this is the case most of the time so don’t feel bad. Even if you’ve been playing the same song for a month or two, it’s going to take longer. The important thing is you practice in a way to maximize your success in some sort of real life scenario.
It seems like a simple thing, yet it’s something I’ve never seen any other banjo instructors talk about…..you basically have to be ready to go at the drop of a hat my friends.