Guest post by Anna Carter | Singer-Songwriter & Producer |
@annacartermusic   /annacarterofficial  

In November 2017 I attended one of the Under 18s Monthly Jam Sessions, hosted at The Brickmakers in Norwich. The jam sessions are free for young people to take part in and all abilities are welcome. This was the first time I had been to one of the sessions, observing as an audience member.

Before they started jamming, the young musicians sat down with Carl – the session leader – to discuss song suggestions. They made a setlist, which included Classic Rock songs and a few Bob Marley tunes for good measure. Everyone was encouraged to pick a song and “lead” their chosen song, through ways such as counting in the other musicians, and teaching them the chords. This was a good example of leadership skills being developed. I observed how they worked together as a band, communicating towards the end of one song to move onto the next one, creating medleys.

I would describe the jam sessions as being a hybrid of an open mic night and a rehearsal session; the musicians get all the benefits of an open mic – performing on stage and in front of people – without the demand of an expectant audience. They also get a chance to rehearse songs with other musicians; but unlike a rehearsal session, there’s no pressure of ‘perfecting’ the songs, as they can play each one for as long as they like, extending the instrumental sections and merging one song into the next. The emphasis is often placed upon improvisation, learning riffs and picking up the chords quickly; they hone this skill as they jam through the songs.

Two of the young musicians at the jam session had never met the other two before, and it was brilliant to watch how quickly they gelled as a group. The musicians got so into the music that within the first hour alone they jammed through 5 songs! It was great to see how immersed they were in the music that they barely noticed time passing. I had worked alongside some of the musicians before, and I was pleased to see their development – one young musician was previously only known for playing guitar and bass, but now he had the confidence to sing lead vocals as well!

The jam sessions provide a relaxed atmosphere, and it seems to me like it’s the perfect way for local musicians to showcase their talent, but also to learn and collaborate by sharing ideas with like-minded people. They can play their instruments as loudly as they like, which they might be unable to do at home. Since the sessions are free, it also gives an opportunity to those who might not have the funds to hire rehearsal space.

I overheard one young musician saying to the other “see you next week” before remembering that the sessions are monthly “…it’s a shame it isn’t weekly” he said. It was lovely to hear such positive feedback. It’s clear to me that the jam sessions are a success!

For more information click here to see full details on the event listing.

Call out for core ‘house band’

We would like to expand our core ‘house band’ of musicians who can support other young musicians at these jam sessions, keep the music flowing and fill any gaps. We are looking for more experienced young musicians who can commit regularly to the sessions. If you are interested, please contact us FAO Carl Cole: