As October 2016 has rolled around out of nowhere, I am reflecting on what has been a superb first season of Jam Bands, and am itching to get going again. The summer camps in July exceeded many people’s expectations and were by far the most exciting, inspiring collective musical experiences I have ever been involved in.
From working alongside and learning from the best musicians that Co. Mayo has to offer, to working alongside the best emerging young musical talent in Mayo – it’s very hard to put in to words how fantastic the summer camps were. Not only did it provide the opportunity for young musicians of varying levels of musical ability to be part of a unique, new and accessible creative experience, it provided me with a completely new type of love for music, a new understanding of the power of collaboration, creative writing and performance.
I was lucky enough to work alongside a number of tutors across three summer camps in Westport, Ballinrobe and Claremorris. The concept remained almost identical, however the final product, creative processes from large ensemble pieces – (where I continue the ukulele revolution) – to small band compositions could not have been more diverse. We really had it all! The small bands offered the opportunity for musicians to collaborate under the gentle guidance of an assigned tutor in an environment that allowed them to take full ownership of the creative process in a smaller setting. As a singer songwriter this process was a highlight among many each week. The three weeks of camps provided a platform for me and other tutors to build important relationships with young musicians and their families. This allowed us to build on the work which was happening all over Mayo in our small Jam band sessions in Ballinrobe, Westport, Ballina, Claremorris and Castlebar throughout the year!
On reflection, it has been an amazing summer for musical development in Co. Mayo, and has been a truly inspiring experience to see the creativity bubbling among the young musicians involved. No matter the level of musical competency, Jam bands are fully accessible for all. From relationship building and making new friends, to creating original works, to jamming your favorite cover or trying out a new instrument, or even having a laugh…. Jam bands has it all. If I had this opportunity when I was a teenager I certainly would not have let it pass!
I sign off as I look forward with great optimism to working alongside the wonderful Ed Hopkinson in Claremorris for another term of Jam bands sessions, and Lorna Dooley in Ballinrobe. Creativity has no limits so let’s see what the new term brings! Thanks to all you jammers and your families and to the team of tutors who made it a musical summer to remember. Lets get ready to rock again!
I started playing music when I was 15, a late starter in some ways but I always had the bug to jam! Starting out as a singer wrecking my voice trying to emulate Nirvana unplugged to renditions of ‘Mustang Sally’ at the local talent shows, to learning guitar from my mates and experimenting with lyric composition and song writing… I haven’t looked back!
I joined my first band at the age of 19 and played all over the west of Ireland for approximately a year before we went our separate ways. I will never forget the combination of absolute fear and excitement of playing my first gig. Safe to say it didn’t take long before I got hooked on live performing! I have been an active member of various cover band set ups over the years and am currently working with two cover bands as well as working on solo projects and writing my first album.
Yours in music,
Huge thanks to all the amazing young musicians who attended a Jam Band Session so far this year – from our fornightly sessions to our week long camps during Easter & Summer.
We’ve enjoyed every minute of collaborating with you, from songwriting, to composing, to improvising, to conducting…..and all the fun moments in-between!!
Jam Bands are taking a rest for August but will be back for the Autumn with lots more plans for music making – so stay tuned and if you want to register your interest fill in your details at this link and we’ll let you know when the next session in your area is.
In the meantime, keep jammin’ 🙂
The lovely Katie Hughes from Katies Hit Mix on CRCfm has been visiting our Jam Band camps during July, recording the music, talking to participants and tutors. If you missed her live broadcasts you can catch up below with her podcasts of the camps.
Below are snippets from Ballinrobe Summer Jam Band Camp and a band called ‘Steve’ 🙂
This video shows a new composition ‘Controlled Mayhem’ in Dm, created by young musicians attending our Jam Band Summer Camp in Ballina in July 2016. You’ll see how creative these young people are just by listening, this is their music, their ideas, their voices – we love it!
Some of these young people had never played an instrument before – but that’s what Jam Bands is all about, being inclusive, nurturing a love for music, performing and collaborating and enjoying the experience collectively!
In their own words…”and the music gets so deep inside of me, it sets me free…”
This camp was facilitated by Jam Band tutors: Michelle Hynes, Debbie Beirne, Anthony McNamee and Dennis McCalmont in Ballina Arts Centre, July 5th-9th 2016.
Following on from our Easter Camp which was simply amazing (- see all the great videos if you don’t believe us!) we have 5 weeks of Summer Jam Bands coming up in Mayo in July!!!
WESTPORT: Tuesday July 5th – Fri July 8th
BALLINA: Tuesday July 5th – Fri July 8th
BALLINROBE: Tuesday July 12th – Fri July 15th
CASTLEBAR: Tuesday July 12th – Fri July 15th
CLAREMORRIS: Tuesday July 19th – Fri July 22nd
Each camp will run for four days, 10am-4pm daily.
Cost per participant = €40. Ages: 12-18 yrs.
These camps are about getting young musicians together to ‘jam’ which essentially means trying things out, mixing things up (in a good way!) playing with new instruments, writing songs – all in a very informal and fun setting with professional musicians to guide you along the way.
It doesn’t matter what instument you play, or even how well you play it – all you need is an open mind and a love of music – all kinds of music!
So are you in? Go here to find out more and book your place!
What an Easter break Ballinrobe community school had this year! Wall2Wall Music were in town doing what we do best – transforming an empty room into a living / breathing hub of creativity.
With us were 22 fantastic young people and 9 budding Jam Band tutors all from Co.Mayo. They came in a bunch of nervous individuals and over the week transformed into a well oiled creative collective with a maturity that gave the adults in the room plenty to smile about!
We spent the week challenging their instrumental playing, musicality and ensemble awareness – as well as producing 2 big group pieces and 4 cracking small band songs! Very quickly the young people became comfortable putting forward their own ideas to the group in the form of lyrics, melodies, riffs, bass breaks and all manner of musical madness. They really were a testament to the creative minds and musical talent that exists in Mayo!
But we can’t possibly sum up this incredible week in just words. So we put together this video, with musicians and tutors collaborating on music, video and lyrics. Check out these little gems of creativity and fun we captured on camera, and the wealth of talent we were working with!
Often on these intensive creative weeks it can feel like an anticlimax after the performance – you’ve created some fantastic music, rehearsed and performed it, and then it’s gone. This time around though with the upcoming jam sessions it feels like this was a big kickstart to a wider picture of young people jamming and creating music together across the county of Mayo. If you are a musician at any ability level then check out your nearest Jam Band Session
Playing with others in a relaxed setting is an invaluable way to develop your musical skills – if you don’t believe me then check out these killer songs, performed live by the Jam Bands musicians, written over only a few hours!
Large ensemble pieces and live improvisations from the performance coming soon. In the meantime, well done to everyone involved. Jam Bands Mayo – WOW!
Feargus Murphy, Wall2Wall Music
More songs below written by newly formed groups during Easter Jam Band!
The difference between playing music and performing is the presence of an audience – something changes when somebody is really listening; the stakes are higher and the rewards are greater. There is an exchange going on that is hard to describe, but somehow musicians and listeners are bound together in one consciousness. When I think about the best performances I have been involved in, either as performer or audience, the deeper you go into the music, the more it becomes unimportant who is playing and who is listening; there is a feeling that the music is not being created by the musicians, but is “welling up” from some deeper place. Thinking about these feelings, I wrote the following words; I don’t know if they constitute a “poem”. Probably not. And apologies for the corny photo!
Time flows like a river, that’s the time of your life flowing past right there. Are you just gonna stand on the bank and watch it go by? Playing music is like stepping into the flow of time. Let it carry you downstream…
Did you ever see 150000 starlings flying in perfect formation at dusk? Nobody tells them which way to turn, they move as one, because they are alive. We desire to be a part of something that becomes much greater than the sum of its parts.
Silence contains rhythm, and rhythm contains silence. When it is quiet, listen closely – you can hear the rhythm, and the notes. It’s there all around us, all the time. We just provide the channel, to bring it to the surface, to convert it to a format we can share.
So time plays us, like the wind passing across the strings of a harp. Time generates the drumming of hooves, the beating of hearts, the rise and set of the sun, of a human’s life, of civilizations, of galaxies.
Step into that river and let it wash away your little self-ness. Slip beneath the surface into a deeper reality. No ‘you’, no ‘I’, no ‘musicians’, no ‘audience’. Just this rhythm, this here, this now. But…don’t take your eyes off the conductor!
Written by Jamband tutor Ed Hopkinson, who would like to thank all the wonderful Jambanders who made the Easter Camp in Ballinrobe such an amazing and unforgettable experience.
Jamband sessions in Westport with Ed and Eriko Hopkinson are open to ages 12 to 17, and take place on the following dates:
- 23rd April 3-5pm Westport Town Hall Theatre
- 14th May 3-5pm Westport Town Hall Theatre
- 21st May 3-5pm Westport Town Hall Theatre
- 28th May 3-5pm Westport Town Hall Theatre
- 4th June 3-5pm Westport Town Hall Theatre
- 25th June 3-5pm venue tbc
Ring Ed on 0876292198 to book a place
Summer Jamband Camps in Westport from 4-7 July, and 11-14 July, details tbc
“Time flies like the wind – fruit flies like bananas”
The magic of jamming is in creating. Sometimes the particular melody is born out of jamming. This melody is a magic creation by all involved equally. It might consist of longer or shorter pieces, it can grow rapidly or evolve slowly. Rarely it crystallises straight away. Instead it can be chopped and changed nearly endlessly and even come back to original at the end.
Throughout this week, we are exploring our musical abilities and creativities. We imagine and realise little motifs and riffs. We bounce ideas off one another and develop these again and again. These are important stepping-stones in our jamming journey and inevitably will lead to the composition of our own melodies and pieces. But HOW does this happen, and even more so – how do we remember what we create?!
Using solos, phrases and ideas of the performers, we start to build up the piece. Everything is contributed and decided upon by the players and gradually the spark is lit. Adding layers and texture to the various sounds and we see our melodies begin to take form. Bringing in raw material from previous sessions and begin to colour in the outlines of the new melody. Dynamics are added, different rhythm patterns and tempi begin to emerge, it all fits *somehow* and slowly but surely, our building blocks begin to formulate into our very own creations. Solos materialise and are given room to advance and breathe. Recordings are made as we go, helping to concrete and assure ideas formed. It’s exciting work, composing out of thin air and hearing material that WE created played back by a big group. It’s a brilliant achievement and only a small taster of the performers’ ability. These musical fruits will be showcased on Sunday evening – can’t wait!
The next Castlebar Jam band session will run on Saturday April 9th in St. Patrick’s Boys School from 2.30 – 4.30 pm with further sessions to follow in April, May and June of this year.
Written by Jam Band tutors Zane and Michelle