By Linda Sorrell
Have music recitals ever put you in a jam? Did the stress take the joy out of music? Then how about a jammin’ time?
Besides teaching private piano lessons, I also teach guitar and accordion. This past summer, my guitar and accordion students began jammin’ and singing around our campfire. Their friends and family members would often jam along on violins and other instruments. Bongo drums, tambourines, and other rhythm instruments made their way into small and large hands to join in the music making. The pleasure of jammin’ was contagious! Some of my students’ families built their own campfire areas for jammin’. I wanted a way to have jammin’ times during the winter months, and to include all my piano students.
I asked my friend Jim Miller of Hampton, Tennessee, who leads jammin’ workshops, for advice. I took his ideas and modified and structured them for our first indoor December jammin’ time. Answering these questions helped me organize this activity:
During the refreshment break, I witnessed most of my students singing and playing instead of eating! During the jammin’, most students played almost all the tunes, while a few were content with just playing their selection. All students received (you guessed it) a jar of my homemade jam to take home.
I believe that my students’ ability to jam together without prior practice is partially due to the use of background accompaniments during lessons. Their use has provided the tools of listening and rhythm skills. They help students to learn to quickly come in again if they lose their place or make a mistake.
Students and their families have requested frequent jammin’ sessions. We plan to let a handful of students add new tunes each time, while replaying favorites. I foresee jammin’ times as a fun educational way to preserve familiar tunes.