Gam-A-Jam is an 18 month Youth Music funded project working in partnership with Heathlands Project and James Rennie School to develop youth leadership, gamelan and composition skills as well as community creative opportunities through exploring the sounds of the Gamelan.
We started the programme in June 2016 with a short composition project which challenged the composers on the BlueJam team to learn about the gamelan and incorporate it into 6 new compositions for the Morecambe Kite Festival. This turned out to be an especially enjoyable and effective training idea and kickstarted the programme in a lively and productive way. The Kite festival performace went really well, with families watching and engaging in the workshops we delivered between performances.
We then felt energised and excited about finding out more about our new instrument and developing our skills and knowledge about it. This was facilitated by our new partnership with Heathlands Project in Carlisle where immediately the opportunities became apparent to trade their knowledge of the Gamelan and working with groups of young people with learning differences with our musical expertise and experience.
Over the summer of 2016 we ran two week-long learning and performance projects which involved National Citizenship students working alongside members of Heathlands Project.
In the Autumn Term 2016 our core activity involved training 12 young leaders from James Rennie School to learn, create and pass on knowledge and skills about the Gamelan as an accessible and fun musical instrument.
In Spring 2017 we took the Gamelan out to James Rennie School for an in-depth, hands-on opportunity for those leaders to actually deliver the skills they have learned, with younger students from the school. This has been one of the highlights of the programme, with excellent feedback from the participants, the school and parents. We really hope to be able to repeat this in future years.
During the course of the project, we are offering monthly open sessions to all members of the community to come to Heathlands and explore the gamelan. These have been instructive and inspirational and have led to a series of ideas about how we can integrate the gamelan into musical performances and community events and use the resource fully. Composers, singers, improvisors, folk musicians, youth workers and artists have all come and had a go.
We have offered taster sessions to children from primary schools, focussing on children who are in nurture groups and their buddies. Two schools have come out to Heathlands to play on the gamelan, and we have been able to be flexible in offering outreach events with the use of specially hand-made gamelan instruments by one of our former participants, Lawrence Leith. These light weight and beautiful instruments sound great, are portable, and also generate a whole new discussion with young people about engineering, how sound is produced, and how to make their own instruments out of recycled materials. Sessions have managed to attract children with disabilities, children with autism and refugee children at festival and outdoor sessions we have put on as well as in schools.
We are now into our second round of workshops with Inspira and Heathlands which have attracted 11 young NCS students, one trainee leader from BlueJam, and 5 under-25 participants from Heathlands.
GAM-A-JAM workshops with Dwi Gambia Sari take place at
The Heathlands Project
Harker Road Ends
Carlisle CA6 4HN
See calendar on homepage for 2017 dates
Heather Tipler – Programme Manager and Arts Award
Jilly Jarman – Project Director and Musician
Ali Watson – Musician and SEN teacher
Tom Leah – recording artist and producer
Sarah Kekus – CMH, musician and gamelan consultant
Lawrence Leith – music instrument maker and trainee leader
Matt Warwick – young music leader trainee
Mike Borgia – Heathlands director, theatre director and enabler
“The term gamelan – derived from the Javanese word “gamel” meaning to strike or to handle – refers to the ensemble of predominantly percussion instruments on which the traditional gamelan music of Java and Bali is played. Vocal music has also had a significant role in the development of gamelan music, alongside the addition of the rebab – a stringed fiddle, the siter (a plucked zither) and the bamboo flute called suling.” South Bank Centre Gamelan Resources