Klezmer Workshops Jams & Style

About Our Workshops & Jams

We invite musicians of any level with any instrument to participate in  KlezCalifornia's klezmer workshops and jam sessions  — klezmer background not required — as well as people who want to dance or just listen and enjoy. A musical jam is a gathering of musicians to learn tunes while they are played and to experience playing with other musicians. We'll provide a leader to guide the choice of tunes and tempos, keep the musicians together, and move on to another tune when ready. Once the session is moving along, other players can suggest tunes that they would like to play. Players of developing ability generally play along softly until they gain more confidence. Ideally a jam session is a “safe,” comfortable, and fun way to exchange music, broaden the repertoire and stylistic skills of all participants, and meet fellow musicians.
  • The first part of the session will be a 60-minute Klezmer Instrumental Workshop, with a skilled leader, intended for musicians who may have little or no klezmer experience, but who are proficient on their instruments. The workshop period may include playing tunes with charts, at the instructor’s discretion, getting familiar with klezmer techniques, and learning tunes by ear at a slow pace.
  • The second part will be 45-minutes of Klezmer Guided Performance. It involves playing through songs, with sheet music provided as necessary, and will include coaching on klezmer style by the leader.
  • The last part will be a 45-minute KIezmer Jam Session for those with at least intermediate familiarity with playing klezmer and/or jamming. After the leader begins the session with a warm-up tune or two, musicians will take turns calling a tune, with everyone learning new tunes by ear, or enjoying playing or improvising on familiar ones. The leader will provide guidance for pace, transitions, and ensure an overall smoothly run and fun session!
Participants may come for any or all of the periods. Jam leaders or participants might also suggest or present songs with Yiddish lyrics, adding singing and Yiddish language to the jam experience. Some participants might dance, providing the original context of klezmer music.

General Concepts

  • A klezmer jam is a gathering of musicians to learn tunes while they are played and to experience playing with other musicians. A leader guides the choice of tunes and their tempos, keeping the musicians together and moving on to another tune after sufficient repetitions of the previous one. Once the session is moving along, other players call out tunes they would like to play. See 

 What is a Jam Session?  — by Stuart Brotman

  • A slow jam is a klezmer jam in which tunes are played by ear, but much more slowly than usual. Sometimes this is accompanied by teaching of some songs (call and response). See  

 What is a Slow Jam?  — by Stuart Brotman

  • A klezmer instrumental workshop is a gathering in which participants learn klezmer tunes and techniques from a teacher, sometimes with the use of musical charts. There is ample time for repetition and discussion. 
  • A KlezCalifornia Yiddish sing-along is a get-together to sing Yiddish songs, relying on the KlezCalifornia SongBook or on song sheets provided by participants. Specific songs are chosen by a leader or by participants.
  • Learning by ear rather than from written music has specific benefits.

 Why We Learn By Ear  — by Joshua Horowitz

Klezmer Style Links — by Jim Rebhan

This resource for instrumentalists who wish to learn how to perform Klezmer music in a traditional style includes links to instrument-specific materials and related audio and video files.









  • Michèle Gingras, Klezmer for Klarinettistsdolmetsch.com/klezmer
  • Dave Tarras, one-hour concert (in 1978 at age 81), youtu.be/V6zKleJSYi4
  • Joel Rubin, The art of the klezmer: improvisation and ornamentation in the commercial recordings of New York clarinetists Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras, 1922-1929, unpublished doctoral thesis (2001), PDF, openaccess.city.ac.uk/8393/









  • Jeff Warschauer and Alan Bern on klezmer accompaniment,    youtu.be/Qr3phAsDN0A 
  • "Klezmer!" BBC documentary in five parts: