If you wander down Bodmin High Street on a Saturday afternoon, don’t be surprised if you hear the sound of laughter and music blasting out of one of the shops. Its really kind of uplifting for a wet Saturday, in winter, in a town where you wouldn’t normally expect it. That shop just happens to be ours; PolyRhythm and the Musical Instrument Library.
We have watched our Jam sessions grow organically since way back in November and its really kind of special. At first, one or two people would call in to hire an instrument, try before they take home, pluck a few notes, sing the odd song or three. And then, before we knew it, we find we can get 20+ in our shop on any given Saturday.
What strikes me is the way that it helped tackle many issues that our community face, the problem of social isolation, the problem that poverty brings with it and the mental health issues like anxiety. Thats not to say that everyone who comes through our door to take part face these issues but what it does say is that the space that has been created, is warm and welcoming, its non-judgemental and its open to all. Most off all though, its fun and that’s the bit that has been missing from life in the last few years.
Polyrhythm is really lucky in the way that we have Colette to head up these sessions and oversee the library. To her it's her dream job, to those participating she is a goddess! She simply plucks out tunes each week that set the tone and the rhythm of the day, she is mindful of those taking part as so that all abilities can join in and somehow organised enough to make sure the instruments are ready, serviced and set up with the help of her youth volunteers who are just as eager to get playing, Tom on drums, Sam on base and Blaine rapping along to the beats. Alongside regulars who support this, we find Helen and Paul who simply are fantastic. They have given us on long term loan a PA system to help with a more professional touch and Helen has started a Youth Session after the Jam finishes in the later part of the afternoon. This we have found, helps the youth go to the next level and have recently been recording with Paul at the helm guiding the use of the software and editing, while Helen takes over the sound room to bang out vocals from the young participants that leave even them shocked at just how good they are.
Now, if we thought it was good, well it's just got a boost to make things even better! We have found support from Feast in the way of a small grant and it has come just at the right time. We were getting desperate for a projector to be installed as we found that a few didn’t know words or the chords and now they can, Its also going to be great use for our guitar lessons that see 20 + each week. For the Jam sessions, It will really help with them being more organised and structured. We always faced a problem of servicing each item before / after the sessions and many times we simply didn’t have enough instruments as some were often waiting to be restrung, set up or at times we simply needed more. And now we can, we can get these things sorted and get jamming on the high street.
I could write on and on about these sessions we hold and to be honest, they really are magic. I have come to see that the language of music is international, it crosses all ages and it is powerful. It can lift you high and set your day on fire. We see it and feel it each week, the 16-year-olds setting the pace for the 60-year-olds to rap along to, we see the 60-year-olds teaching the 16-year-olds the techniques they have learned and now pass down for lifelong learning. Skills exchanged across the ages and our fantastic women leading the way. This is how we lead our community out of Covid, how we grow back together and how we learn to live once more!
Here is just a small sample of what has been created. Its raw, organic and its ours! Its what ignites our participants and keeps them coming back, its what Polyrhythm is all about and we love it!
Follow the links to our Facebook page and see for yourself.