On Thursday, May 9th, The Musical Autist hosted an Empowerment Jam Session at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, which is a local venue in Annapolis. The jam session took place in the cafe. Because of this, we had to shorten the jam to 45 minutes due to the cafe’s closing time. There were approximately 20 people at the jam session. The Musical Autist recently purchased small instruments that we could use for different events; these include egg shakers, frame drums, tambourines, etc. We were excited to provide these instruments for the attendees. The Jam Session leaders played the guitar, bassoon, and piano. We also had a new attendee play a song on their tuba. During the jam session, we played our opening song, 12 bar blues, 6 jam along songs, chanted an empowering phrase, and ended with our closing song.
We wanted to have a jam session at Maryland Hall so that we could reach a bigger audience and be more inclusive. I believe we are on our way to reaching this goal because we had visitors stopping to listen during the jam. I mentioned in previous blog posts that I enjoy hosting jam sessions because they help me become a better leader. I feel that I am improving my leadership skills when helping people make music together. When I am leading jam sessions, I feel very happy and enjoy myself. I especially felt great when I encouraged other members to lead their own songs. I like to open the floor for others to practice being a leader. I am currently mentoring a younger person on the autism spectrum to step into a leadership role. When I host Empowerment Jam Sessions, they give me an opportunity to help younger people on the spectrum develop leadership and advocacy skills.
I believe that chanting empowerment phrases can be a helpful tool in developing one’s self-esteem. Having healthy self-esteem is important when developing leadership skills because a leader is responsible for their followers. This is exactly why I prepare empowering phrases for jam sessions. These phrases give people opportunities to say empowering things that oppose what they may have been told their entire lives. I purposefully incorporate empowering phrases into these sessions because I want people to know that they can do things. For 8 years of my life, I was constantly being told the things that I couldn’t do. After being diagnosed with autism, people on the spectrum are often immediately told things that they can’t do. These empowering phrases affirm the individuals as well as everyone around them. People that may have been told things such as, “You can’t do this” or “You’ll never learn to do that” for most of their lives, can affirm truth over themselves by chanting something like, “I can do anything!” or “I have learned great things!” I believe chanting empowering phrases captures The Musical Autist’s vision to create platforms for self-advocacy.
I would like to continue hosting jam sessions at Maryland Hall because it was a welcoming venue. Maryland Hall is also the location of other Musical Autist programs which is convenient for attendees.
Jam sessions are opportunities for everyone to hang out, improvise musically, and have fun together in a relaxed and social environment. It is my vision and my dream to replicate jam sessions in communities beyond Anne Arundel County because I believe it is important for people with and without disabilities to experience this type of inclusive atmosphere. Please stay tuned for information about when the next jam session will take place. If you are interested in participating in a Musical Autist program, you may contact me directly through our website.