Mixing it up
There are many ways to join in with a jamming session and you don’t necessarily need instruments. This is because the approach is bigger than the tool. If you focus on an individual’s abilities, interests and desires, then think creatively you will find a way for that person to bring something to a jam and feel like they’ve contributed to something meaningful. Here are seven ways to jam without instruments.
Vocalisations – we all have a unique way of making sounds with our voice. Just make some oooh and aaah sounds with three people and each one will sound different. And it feels good! Vocalisations don’t involve words, so it takes away the pressure to remember anything and enables you to express yourself freely, in the moment. Listen to a piece of music together and start oohing and aaahing. There is no such thing as a wrong note in this session just freedom to express. Many people have their own special vocalisations, so do encourage them to use them to join in with the jam.
Saying Words – some people are word people. We facilitated one session where one man flowered and engaged with delight when we played with words. Until that moment he seemed uninterested in engaging. Saying single words or short phrases, related to a theme or a mood can be fun and another way of including everyone and enabling each person to contribute to the session. Don’t worry about making perfect sentences or stories, use the words expressively to enhance the mood. Imagine using a thunderstorm as a theme and two people are creating the howling wind with their oohs and aahs and then the word smith says “Darkness” or Rumble”. What a great creative moment everyone has created.
Clapping – We tend to think of clapping as 1,2,3,4 to a tune or applauding someone and clapping is a great, simple way to join in. You can also have a clapping moment together focusing just on the clapping. During a group recording on a project, using the jamming approach, we just started clapping. The different rhythms and energy that we all made resulted in an amazing creative moment. We all felt that Wow, something happened there and everyone was smiling. So, you can start some clapping and just see what happens.
Slapping – Not everyone will feel they have the ability or strength to clap but they may be able to slap. Gently slapping part of your body or a table can enable a person to feel the rhythm and contribute to a jamming sound. There are so many layers in which to contribute to a creative moment. And remember, anything goes.
Whistling – Not all of us can whistle. But most of us can remember or know a person who prides themselves on their whistling or it was an integral part of their walk or work. If you know someone who can whistle, encourage them to bring their skill into a jam.
Dancing – During one jamming session we played a jazz track. A woman who was sat in her chair started to do the most beautiful foot moves to the music. It was magical and she was so happy. There are many ways to move to music. While every encouragement should be given to people getting up and dancing, there are other ways to dance. Dancing hands and feet, walk and dance with fingers, make facial expressions (groove with your eyebrows!) and even move your eyes to the music.
Drawing – Draw to music. Get one large piece of paper on a table with all the jammers sat around with enough space and materials to let them flow to the music and make some art together. It works! We did one session where a group of jammers started to engage at their own pace producing an amazing piece of art work. “I didn’t think I would be able to do that!” said one jammer, “look what we have just made” said another. Drawing offers a whole other way for people to jam and create together in the moment.
Imagine a creative session where everyone has, with your guidance, found a way to engage and contribute to the session. The jamming approach opens up ways of making and discovering new things together. And it’s fun! Happy jamming.