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 encourages players to develop confidence and transferable life and work skills, since it’s easy to learn the basics and you don’t need previous musical experience. Gamelan also has a philosophy of behaviour – about equality, respect, co-operation, and reflection – that helps players work more effectively with others.
A typical Good Vibrations gamelan course:
- An intensive five day course for a group of 15 – 20 participants
- Most will not have done anything musical before
- Participants experience composing, improvising and conducting too
- At the end of the week they give an informal performance to staff, other prisoners and sometimes families are invited too
- The performance is recorded and they get a CD each of the music they’ve made together
- Participants benefit enormously from the short but intensive experience
- They can gain nationally-recognised Open College Network or Arts Award accreditations
I realised I am good at leadership and my confidence came out which is something I will try to continue to show.
A participant, 2023
I’d never seen a gamelan before, so it was totally new to me and to the other men who took part. We were on the same level – all out of our comfort zones. We had to leave our egos at the door and collaborate to master this unfamiliar set of instruments.
A participant, 2019
The gamelan music in itself was a therapy for me. For the first time in a long while I was able to fully focus on one thing.
A participant, 2020