Friday, October 19, 2012

Kid's Instructional Jam Group

This year, I started a youth instructional jam group.  Previously, I had always encouraged kids to join us in the Monday night instructional jams, but they never kept coming.  I decided this summer to give them their own jam group.  It has worked out really well!  We had about 12 kids coming regularly in the summer, and now that school is in sessions, more than half have decided to stay with the group.

This group meets every other week, and practices to perform at local venues such as nursing homes, churches and other events as requested.  I am not personally involved in many of these outings.  I leave it up to the parents to decide if they want to pursue most of the requests, which they have.  Since July, they have played at the New Athens Home for the Aged, several different school functions in Waterloo and here in New Athens, churches, and bluegrass festivals, including the Ripson Bridge Festival.  The group plays entirely for fun and does not make any money from any of their outings.  The idea is that they should enjoy playing music and should enjoy sharing their music.  They are free to come and go.  Each student learns how to play the bass, and many play more than one instrument.  They all practice different lead and harmony parts, and if one person can't make a gig, another one fills in the gap.

From a musical standpoint, they are learning how to create setlists, tell jokes, share the microphones, sing lead and harmony, play backup and take breaks, prepare for a gig, interact with folks at the gigs, set up equipment, and more!  One of the most heartfelt moments for me was watching them talk to all of the residents at the New Athens Home for the Aged after they had finished their set.  Every one of them spent time holding hands, hugging, and talking to the folks they had just played for.  The joy that the music alone brought to these people was wonderful, but this was the icing on the cake in my opinion!

To have a talent is a wonderful thing, but to share that talent is a blessing to both the musician and the listener!

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