Innovative and inclusive music and arts in Cumbria and NE

Gamelan for Wellbeing

Gamelan for Wellbeing
have now restarted

Fortnightly starting on January 24th 2024 4-5pm. £4 or what you can afford.

Come and make healing music amid the beautiful sounds of the gongs and metallophones of “Dwi Gambira Sari” – Penrith’s gamelan.

You do not need to be musical to play the gamelan – there are really easy and more difficult parts so everyone can join in. If you can’t sit on the floor instruments can be put onto tables so you can sit on a chair to play. The bronze gamelan is now located upstairs.

Our Gamelan for Wellbeing Sessions are led by Stephen Burke, who studied Gamelan at the South Bank and is a professional classical percussionist and improvisor.

Also on the Gamelan team are Lawrence Leith, who studied Gamelan at Dartington College and has built a series of gamelan instruments which BlueJam takes into schools and to festivals.

Sarah Kekus, who went to Java to see the Gamelan being made and was a member of the original project team in Cumbria. She leads gamelan workshops across Cumbria and looks after an iron version.

Jilly Jarman, who briefly studied Gamelan at York University in the 70’s, oversaw the lease of the gamelan from the Sage Gateshead, and ran composition projects involving gamelan and other instruments and our Youth Music project Gam-A-Jam.

History of our Gamelan

BlueJam is proud to be the custodian, with Heathlands in Carlisle and More Music in Morecambe of the “Dwi Gambira Sari” Gamelan Orchestra. Made by the late master Gamelan maker Pak Tentrem of Solo in Central Java and brought to the UK in Autumn 2010. We have the use of the Slendro half of the Orchestra, the Pelog half being at The Sage Gateshead.

We have made room in our Community Arts Space available to house this precious instrument safely and are able to share it with the community.

We have had pregnant women experiencing relief in a gong ‘sound bath’: families enjoying respite from lockdown in a shared, accessible activity; music students stimulated by a new music ethos and many people having fun with instruments that sound amazing and are easy to play.

Private Group and Family Sessions

Can’t make it to our weekly gamelan group or need to access the gamelan downstairs? We’re happy to run a private session for your family, friendship or work group – a unique activity to do together. Get in touch if you’d like to book one of these – or if you’d like to give a session as a present or birthday gift. These cost £70 for an hour’s session.

A session will be led by an experienced instructor and your family/friendship group will learn how to play this magnificent instrument and make some gorgeous music as well as creating some rather special memories together.

A Gamelan session is a great way to relax and be creative as a group. Playing the instrument itself is quite meditative and can help give you time to step away, process and reflect on the times we are currently living in. It’s also great fun!

“This has been an incredible experience for our children! They have been allowed to explore a range of instruments – some they are familiar with, some not. And there has been no expectation made of them – just a freedom to play and indeed learn in an environment that inspires, delights and reassures. Sensitive and expert teaching and guidance showed an awareness of my children’s individual needs and preferences, of their anxieties and their areas of confidence. This is a space where joy unfolds new confidence and new discoveries and not just for the kids but for the whole family.”

 Parent – Gamelan Session, August 2020

Information about the Gamelan Instruments

Here’s some information about the Gamelan Orchestra, how the instruments are grouped together, which mallets to use, and some simple traditional tunes to try out. This was written by Sarah Kekus.

Gamelan Out and About

Here we are at Solfest grooving along to the disco tent!

Here we are at Kendal Torchlight 2021 using Lawrence Leith’s portable gamelan.