Jamaica Drum Jam uses the infectious rhythm of
drums and percussion to bring people together. Our mission is to bring music education and performances to low and moderate income individuals in Jamaica, Queens and surrounding neighborhoods in New York City.
Our project began as a casual conversation over pulled pork sandwiches one chilly December afternoon. While having lunch, Jim Vasquez and Julie Sriken discussed different ideas for giving back to their hometown of Jamaica. As teenagers, they met in band class at Van Wyck Junior High School 217 in Jamaica. This musical education was a profoundly positive experience in their lives. Jim became a drummer and drum roadie who performed and worked throughout New York City. Julie started working in social services after years of musical study at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and the Performing Arts.
Knowing that Jamaica had suffered cuts to music programs in its public schools, Julie and Jim decided to create a musical access program. Using Julie's love for organizing events and high tolerance for tedious administrative work plus Jim's ability to recruit talented friends for a good cause, they founded Jamaica Drum Jam, Inc. a not for profit corporation formed exclusively for the charitable, educational and cultural purposes of providing music education and musical performances to low and moderate income individuals in New York City. Jamaica Drum Jam develops and provides interactive lectures, lessons and workshops and provides public recitals and concerts.
The Citizens Committee for New York City awarded Jamaica Drum Jam a 2012 New Yorkers for Better Neighborhood Grant which is awarded to resident-led groups in low-income neighborhoods to carry out community improvement projects. Our flagship program debuted in summer 2012 and was a 4-week series of workshops comprised of one interactive lecture and three drum circles. Our workshops, which were hosted at the Queens Library-Central Library, were held on July 14, 2012, July 21, 2012, July 28, 2012 and August 4, 2012.
The program was more successful than anticipated and was featured in the July 27, 2012 issue of The Southeast Queens Press. While we had expected 10-20 people for each session, the attendance rates for each week were 40, 43, 52 and 40 participants indicating community support and desire for Jamaica Drum Jam.