Gamelan courses

What is gamelan?

Gamelan music is the traditional music of Indonesia. The gamelan is a family of instruments such as gongs, chimes, drums, and xylophones. It is very accessible and communal, and everyone’s contribution is equally important. Our gamelan courses mainly use gamelan orchestras from Java.

Gamelan is extremely effective at enabling participants to develop confidence, and transferable life and work skills, since it’s accessible, and easy to learn the basics, and you don’t need previous musical experience to do it. Gamelan also has a philosophy of behaviour – about equality, respect, co-operation, and reflection – that helps players to focus their behaviour, and better understand how they can work more effectively with others.

Here is what gamelan sounds like

This is an excerpt from Fireworks in the Bathtub, and other stories by Emily Crossland

Case Studies

Click here for a detailed case study of a gamelan course we ran with HMP Peterborough in 2015, have a listen to a performance by a group of women at HMP Elmley in 2015, and watch a group from Bognor improvising on the gamelan together.

This graphic represents a typical Good Vibrations gamelan course:

  • Our gamelan courses typically run as week-long courses for groups of 15 – 20 participants
  • Most will not have done anything musical before
  • At the end of the week we ask groups to put on an informal performance
  • Each performance is recorded, and a CD is produced for all participants to keep
  • Participants experience composing, improvising  and conducting too
  • Participants benefit enormously from the short but intensive experience
  • There is also the option of adding nationally-recognised Open College Network qualifications, or Arts Award accreditations to courses