Percussive Arts Society

PASIC Flash Jams – Short Bursts Of Rhythmic Fun In Community by Sandra Gruber

Sandra Gruber Flash Jam

What is a flash jam? It’s a short burst of rhythmic community fun that happens daily at PASIC.

Who is it for? Jams are for anyone attending PASIC who happens to be in front of the expo hall when instruments are provided for this purpose.

Why do we hold these jams? Flash jams promote interactive drumming in the drum community.

Why get involved? If you are like me, do it for the love of the activity and to build community.

Ever since 2011, I have participated in the Interactive Drumming Committee (IDC) flash jams. The IDC has enabled and encouraged people of rhythmic passion to gather for the 10- to-15-minute impromptu jams using small percussion instruments, drums, audio outbursts and spontaneous movement in community space. The goals of the flash jams are to experientially engage the PASIC community, educate attendees about interactive drumming session, promote awareness of IDC sessions at the convention, promote the IDC, and give opportunity to gather for spontaneous fun.

The Interactive Drumming Committee selects a facilitator who leads participants in self-expression, harmony, and fun body movements with various supplied instruments. At least one other person anchors the group by playing a pulse-based groove on a low drum. It can be a heartbeat rhythm, a single beat, or whatever serves to let participants know where to find the home rhythm to harmonize to. Another person serves as a greeter to help by handing out instruments to the crowd, encouraging engagement, and collecting instruments as people leave. One more person is recruited to serve as the social media person to take short videos and pictures and capture the magic of the moment.

Because of my passion for flash jams, IDC Co-Chair John Yost, empowered me to serve as the organizer for 2023 flash jams.  My charge was to line up lead facilitator, bass drummer, greeter and media volunteers from among those already identified as attending PASIC 2023. These volunteers would assemble the instrument kit and facilitate the activity each day of the conference.

In my years of attending PASIC, my first love has always been the interactive drumming in flash jams, late night circles, and the finale circle.  When I first attended, I looked forward to playing the bass drum as the heartbeat for the jam. It brought much joy to my mind, body, and soul to help the facilitator with the main beat. In 2022, I had the honor of leading my first jam while other participants played the bass drum. My heart was full of joy as we had a true crowd of players, thanks to the listing in the PASIC schedule (both in the social app and the hard copy). I was elated to have such a great turn out!

As my colleague Richard “Farf ” Farvour described: “The flash jam goal is to inject a little flash into the convention.” No one can remember the year they started, but it’s been over 20 years since they burst onto the scene. I live for them every year.

I started volunteering at PASIC with the logistics team, then moved to the registration desk to hand out badges. I have met some great staff members who allowed me to participate in the flash jams. Gradually, I became an honorary member of the IDC due to all my efforts in helping out with the flash jams. This year, I was welcomed as an official member. My passion for drum circle activity and facilitating groups is very strong. I urge you to get involved with interactive drumming and drum circles. The camaraderie is priceless. The hidden lessons from each facilitator and participant are enriching. As Arthur Hull would say, “to teach without teaching” is so much fun. “Like a sneaky vegetable, feed them the possibilities and eat up the fun.”

Sandra GruberSandra Gruber worked with Bongo Boy Music School to facilitate community drum circles for health and wellness where she learned world percussion from Ed Gaus and Lisa Colleen. She loves to hold the heartbeat in the middle of the circle and to show others basic rhythms.  Her name literally means “helper of humanity,” and to be a facilitator, to make it easy for others to learn rhythms, is her passion. She is on the PAS Interactive Drumming Committee and is also a member of the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild. 

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