A typical JamTent workshop:

Seats are arranged in a circle, on each seat, there is an instrument available.

DSCF0660The instruments will cover the hit, blow, strum and bow varieties as well as sensory switches and assistive devices primarily for those with learning disabilities.

Seated in the circle are touring artists and/or local bands (with amps and instruments plugged into a PA), they are seated alongside participants from youth groups /day care centres (and festivalgoers when at Kendal Calling for instance).

On a second tier there are often helpers, volunteers, carers and parents. Standing behind them (when in concert) is the audience – who are often turned into an ‘instrument’ too.

The jamming begins with a short performance of songs from the visiting artists.Then the basic symbols/instructions to be used by each chosen conductor/music leader are explained to all.

After we hear the artists perform, we then choose a basic groove, song, sound or chant as our bedrock and start to jam.

The visiting artists can offer a lot to this process, giving the necessary oomph to the backbeat etc.

The music leader uses simple signals at first; these bring people into the jamming, start or stop individuals or groups or invite them to play louder or quieter etc.

The range of signals or symbols used may increase as the session develops and the music can vary considerably as a result.

Each workshop session lasts around an hour.

This is followed by a Q&A session with the artists – these are always revealing and open exchanges that take place in a lighthearted and supportive circle of musical collaborators.

The sessions are given a certain sparkle when on occasion we get a particularly popular band and their fans come too, especially if they have travelled a long way to see their band on tour (this is often the case at festival based jams) and actually get a chance to join in a jam with them.

The sessions always end with an upbeat final song / sing / play-along.