The Vienna Jammers have spent the last few weeks making music using trashcans, PVC pipe, homemade marimbas and drum sets in a warehouse-like space at 316 Dominion Road.
With the changing status, and approaching its seventh year as a group, the Jammers hope to expand offerings and perform throughout the area, and even across the country.
Director Dave Reynolds, a music instructor at Vienna Elementary, said the group grew to the point where it made sense to move it away from the school system, allowing it to be open to anyone in the area through an audition process.
Current participants are in grades five through seven. The group is different from traditional music lessons and performing groups, because music is taught by ear and no sheet music is used.
Reynolds said it helps develop more excitement than teaching participants to read music, and if the students go on to learn to read music later they’ll be more motivated.
The group uses music that’s written by others, as well as writing their own music, playing in a style that’s similar to music heard in Zimbabwe, focusing on percussion.
Many of the marimbas used are hand-made by Reynolds and the Jammers with help from marimba maker Brent Holl — a cost saving necessity upon the transition to nonprofit. Other instruments the group uses are on loan.
The group performs throughout the area, including at the Vienna Halloween Parade, the Vienna Mayor’s Volunteer Awards, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Worldgate Centre's Youth Arts Month Celebration in Herndon and more.
Larger venues they’ve played in include during Mystics games at Verizon Center and Wolf Trap. Reynolds said his current goal is to work on a medley of music by indie rock band Vampire Weekend and someday perform with the band.
The ultimate goal is to be able to travel with the group and perform in New York City, at conferences, at Disney, in Hawaii and other locations.
The group is planned to have three skill levels. Vienna Jammers Black is the advanced group, Vienna Jammers Red will be a beginners group, and Vienna Jammers Lite is a group that meets and performs less frequently.
The Red and Black participants practice twice each week, and Lite participants practice once a week. All participants currently pay dues to be a part of the group.
Reynolds said what the group could use most is support, whether it’s monetary, advertising or instruments. He said the mission is to be centered on youth, and he hopes someday they’re able to offer scholarships so anyone can try out, no matter their ability to pay.
This summer there are plans for an experience camp, where students will have a chance to learn what the Jammers do and potentially join the group. There is a fundraiser planned for June called The Big Jam.
Reynolds said the Vienna Jammers are a great opportunity for students to tap into their creativity. He said if it makes more youth passionate about music, he’s excited.
To see a video clip, click the media player above.
* Correction/note: The Vienna Jammers are currently in the transition process and are working toward becoming a nonprofit organization.
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