Casual Jam Sessions Fill Void of Student Bands in Pitzer Music Scene

Pitzer College is well-known among the 5Cs for having many unique musicians and student bands. This year, however, there are currently no official Pitzer student bands. Instead, a new music trend is burgeoning: the jam session.

Micah Huang PZ ’13 organized a jam session for student musicians at the Grove House last Friday, Sept. 14. Huang wanted to help musicians connect and see where the night took them, and he hoped to inspire the creation of new bands.

Musicians, many without shoes, gathered in a relaxed circle with their instruments. There were multiple singers and guitarists, a violinist and drummers. A student who played the lyre—a small, Greek, harp-like instrument—joined, and some students participated by tapping on a glass cup with metal knives. 

Attendee Madeleine Ranson PZ ’14 was in a band last year but is interested to see how this new, casual music scene develops.

“Last year my band was called Yachter’s Daughters, and we started out as a funk band and ended up playing ‘danceable rock,’” Ranson said. “The band broke up because two members graduated and the third quit. It was just time.”

The vibe at the jam session was calm, friendly and low-key. People came and went as they pleased and played what they felt like. Often the songs came about organically as one person played a set of chords on their guitar and another joined in on drums. Other times, they played popular folk music or songs by the Beatles.

“The environment at the jam on Friday night was very welcoming and affirming, so I felt more comfortable experimenting with different rhythm instruments,” Ranson said.  

The musicians would play a song or two, then as they transitioned into the next, they talked about how their days had been or shared their favorite songs.

“It was just a good thing to do. And fun,” Huang said.

While it does not seem like this event will spur the creation of any new bands just yet, the musicians had a great time and expressed a desire to learn new songs for the next time. Students were excited to meet new people and happy for others to offer whatever skills they had.  

“I went to the jam session because playing music is a release for me, as well as a way to have fun,” Ranson said. “I love connecting with other musicians/music lovers on campus, and this jam session gave me that opportunity.”

More jam sessions will occur at Pitzer this semester. Though the jam sessions developed as an alternative to student band performances, students are still welcome to join the audience in this new, intimate setting.

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