In private lessons & band classes…Brooklyn Music Factory students are always jamming with each other.
Why, you may ask, are we SO adamant about this particular piece of our curriculum?
Well, for starters, it’s one half of our whole reason for being: We build community. Jamming together literally builds our musicians’ community, using the language of music.
But we actually have four other, more nuanced, reasons for making sure the kids at Brooklyn Music Factory are jamming together all the time. Those reasons come from years of jamming with thousands of students.
Jamming together teaches AND motivates students
If a student is stuck in a private lesson—challenged with a technique on their instrument (Example: they are struggling with changing from one chord to another on guitar)—jamming with the teacher gives them a place to work on that challenge without being judgemental of the struggle. Playing along with another person is a more human approach to the old-school metronome. E.g., Do one thing over and over again until you get it right!
What’s clear from our experience is this:
Students who start jamming with others at an early age are far more likely to face, stand up to and, ultimately, move beyond any fears of failure. (E.g., Instead of focusing on what they can’t do, they are finding joy in what they can play).
Jamming together is a great way to learn & build BLAMs (Big Lessons About Music)
The foundation of our music curriculum is games. We call them Big Lessons About Music (BLAMs!) and even have an app called Big Music Games dedicated to making games out of ear training and music theory. We take BLAM games really seriously!
The simple reason why is that we believe they build music fluency and give students the confidence they need to use music as a tool to communicate. Jamming is the manifestation of that confidence and also tests their fluency, motivating them to grow and learn.
BLAM games challenge musicians in four categories:
Melody, Harmony, Rhythm and Songwriting. (Learn more about BLAM games here.) When kids at Brooklyn Music Factory jam together, they are making melodic, harmonic, rhythmic and songwriting choices. They are truly testing their level of comfort in each category.
Jamming together helps musicians Check Their Egos at the Door
All pro musicians know that ego can be one of the biggest obstacles to maturing as a player. Letting go of our own desires as practicing musicians to show off what we know, how advanced we are and what we have worked so hard on to INSTEAD listen to the music happening around us…that ability to discover what is needed in the moment is essential for all musicians.
Jamming together encourages kids to listen first and react second.
At Brooklyn Music Factory, we value every musician’s contribution equally. This is why we love when our beginning musicians get to jam with our older, more experienced musicians…Jamming together inspires younger players to learn from older players and also helps older students learn humility and how to mentor. As one of my mentors once shared with me, “My favorite musicians to play with are always the most humble ones.”
Jamming together is the ultimate destination!
Tons of our students’ parents at Brooklyn Music Factory are professional musicians. I am convinced the reason why is that these parents recognize and appreciate both the path and the ultimate destination for a lifetime of making music. The path is all about learning… ear training, music theory & songwriting/improvisation. Developing these essential skills speaks to the pros but, more importantly, they also know the reason WHY they chose a life of musicians. The reason? To play music with other people…as much as possible.
Our pro musician parents love that their kids are jamming together because they see that as the destination, the whole point–not just a learning tool–for musicians.
A connection between sports & music
I’m a HUGE sports fan and love to draw analogies between music and team sports whenever possible. Imagine spending hours on the soccer field doing shooting and footwork drills, but never actually playing a game with other players. That’s crazy and would never happen, right? But too many traditional music lessons are just like that. Lots of drills (scales, sight reading, etc.) and hours practicing alone. And if a student is lucky, she does a recital at the end of the year…. where she gets to play alone some more. We think that’s wrong.
The WHOLE POINT of music is jamming with others–and students at the Brooklyn Music Factory get to do that right from the start.