On Saturday, November 10th, we had an Empowerment Jam Session at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Severna Park, Maryland. We had at least 20 or 30 people attend the jam session. We had lots of music, singing, snacks, and coffee. There were opportunities for people to improvise a solo over a 12 bar blues jam. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I played an old hymn called “We Gather Together” while each of the attendees played instruments. Like other jam sessions, we had a welcome and closing song.
We had a new participant from Troupe, one of TMA’s other programs, attend the jam session, as well as a new participant from a different community organization. One of them played a song on the guitar along with a recording. I also helped the other individual sing a song called “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid. In addition to these new participants, we had new community members attend, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It is a pleasure for me to be the jam session leader because I facilitate most of the activities during the session.
We would like to extend our jam session community to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. There is a café at Maryland Hall that we would one day like to have our jam sessions in. We would bring all our instruments to Maryland Hall so that we can perform in the café. TMA recently bought a keyboard that will be used for these jam sessions. The reason why we would like to have our jam sessions at Maryland Hall is because we would like to reach a bigger audience of participants. We are so grateful that Maryland Hall asked The Musical Autist to be an official Community Partner and part of their educational programming.
The Jam Session Committee would like to see more musicians participate in our sessions. We also want to create more opportunities for audience members to participate; we can do this by initiating improvisational jams that involve all audience members and all musicians. We want these jam sessions to be a social environment, and we encourage (not force) participation. Even if people just want to sit and listen and drink coffee, that is welcome as well. You don’t have to be a musician to participate in the jam session, though we encourage all participants to perform a song if they have one prepared. You can just play an instrument or sing along or sit back and listen.
I believe that the mission and vision of the Jam Session Committee is to extend the invitation for all people in the community to make music together. You don’t have to be autistic or have a particular disability. Making music together is a fun thing to do; it gives people the opportunity to socialize and engage musically. I also like to give opportunities for people to share and perform songs. My hope is that jam sessions will be extended not just in this community but every community abroad. I want all people to be able to make music together and enjoy it with their friends, peers, and families. Music is what brings people together and unifies them as one. We can express our emotions and our needs through the making of music. We can also advocate for ourselves and the rest of the population. I believe that The Musical Autist will be able to reproduce jam sessions not just in the state of Maryland but all over the country. Let’s make an effort to introduce people to the idea of making music. This will enhance the vision and mission of The Musical Autist to provide equal access to the fine arts and platforms for self advocacy.