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,