Just Jam!

There is only one rule – just do it! 

As a musician, I have learnt the ultimate reason why we learn to play an instrument is to connect with other people. Music is a universal language that crosses all borders, cultures and age groups. Jamming happens when musicians play together, be it in a structured, composed and orderly manner, or an on-the-spot improvisation. When I was young, my biggest desire was to connect with like-minded people by playing in groups – big or small. Anything would suffice – duets, ensembles, Orff orchestras, or choirs. When I couldn’t find a partner to play with, I would record myself playing the recorder (we had to use tape cassette recorders, back in the day!), and then play it back whilst accompanying myself on the piano. A duet with myself! 

Any music teacher or music school worth its salt should create opportunities for students to jam with other musicians. The connection from making music with others can even be found in only two people playing together. It is not a case of “bigger is better”. The responsibility of playing in a small group is even more vast; it teaches accountability, discipline, and the important skill of knowing when to lead, and when to follow. 

Our biggest insecurity as musicians is that we are either not good enough to play with other musicians, or that we are too good to play with them. We can overcome this obstacle! Indeed, the joy of music comes from the realization that you will sometimes play the lead part, the part for which you must practice hours on end, while other times, your job will merely be to play the triangle. In the end, though, you contribute to a group effort. It should be fun to connect with your fellow musicians by playing that triangle, and ultimately understanding your worth in the ensemble. As a classically trained musician, I am equally excited to jam with musicians who are not trained. Even while I feel insecure with jazz and contemporary music, it still brings me joy to extend myself and to trust those whom I play with.

Pick up your instrument; make music with others; be brave. Just jam!

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