The magic of the jam
We’ve been jamming visually – working with care home service users and staff to create things together. We’re taking our jamming approach, so it’s all about working and playing together as we explore making. Everyone can bring their input and help each other – people could also choose to hinder each other actually, but that doesn’t seem to happen. The expectation and understanding among the group is that we’re working together to make a good thing and so helping just makes sense. The jamming approach does rely on people’s good nature and on being open to, and supportive of, others in the group – perhaps this is why it works so well in the care setting, where there is a desire to support and enable in the air.
Like the music jam sessions we’ve been delivering for the past year, the way that participants form a band to take forward a group creation works with a visual creative activity too. It makes the whole experience into a social space and working with visuals is a great way to offer ways of connecting and communicating that don’t rely on verbal communication. This makes it a very accessible and inclusive activity, enabling the active participation of individuals who don’t use words to communicate and reducing the pressure of needing to form words and sentences. And just like the music jams, people have been stepping up and joining-in – I do think that a little bit of pressure encourages engagement, as individuals understand, or maybe intuit, that this will only work if they join-in.
You need to engender a level playing field for this magical band formation to happen. Everyone needs to know that we’re all equal, all in this together. John and I don’t stand back as facilitators, we join right in, we’re part of the band – giving, receiving, responding and jamming away. You never quite know what’s going to happen, it’s slightly unnerving, very satisfying and a lot of fun.