Arts & Culture / Mosaic / March 4, 2015

Taking requests: Professors hold jam out during lunch

Professor of Religious Studies Jim Thrall and Professor of Anthropology Jon Wagner practice together. (Lizzie Wisdom/TKS)

Professor of Religious Studies Jim Thrall and Professor of Anthropology Jon Wagner practice together. (Lizzie Wisdom/TKS)

Professor of Psychology Tim Kasser has been active in the Knox music scene since his arrival on campus  in the mid-90s, having played with the faculty band for several years before its dissolve, and having sat in on some jazz combinations throughout his career here. During all of that, an idea has been brewing in his head: a weekly faculty jam session. This term his idea has come to fruition. Every Wednesday at noon in the Jay Rehearsal Hall in CFA faculty members arrive with their respective instruments, ready to rock.

Comparing the weekly jam session to the tri-weekly faculty, staff basketball game, Kasser believes this opportunity is a great way of fostering community that he says has been declining in recent years.

“One of the things I’ve always valued about Knox is the sense of community that the place has, and I think there are ways in which I believe that has eroded over the years. I saw this as a way to do something I think would be fun … also to build a sense of community. At the jam sessions we play together, obviously, and that builds a sense of getting to know each other in a different way.”

The jam sessions are open to any faculty and staff who would like to come and listen or play. Students are not excluded from the jam sessions, but the sessions are meant more as a way for faculty to convene during the work day with a purpose that is not work-task oriented.

“I really think there’s something important about getting away from work for a little while … the computer, teaching and all the rest of the things that we do … and stepping away for a bit.” Kasser said.

As any musician knows, there is a huge difference between playing by one’s self and playing with other people. Where faculty who were not in the Music department may not have had the opportunity to play with an ensemble before, this jam session offers a low-key, safe way for them to engage in ensemble playing.

“You learn a lot É it stretches you,” Kasser said.

The typical session runs about an hour long with the attendees proposing songs that they would like to play. There is no sheet music, and at a normal session faculty usually work their way through seven songs. Of course, depending on the people attending the jam sessions, the music selection changes, thus stretching the ability of the jammers through exposure to various different genres.



Tags:  instruments Jam sessions lunch music professors

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