When we first met mama and #girlboss Jamie Kolnick we were instantly captivated by her playful spirit, warmth and enthusiasm. Jamie is the founder of Jam With Jamie, which is a nationwide children’s entertainment company. Whether it's a music class for toddlers, a musical playgroup or a birthday party, Jam With Jamie offers the most playful and engaging interactive music experiences for children that we have ever seen (and trust us, we've seen a lot of classes!). Read on to get to know this amazing mama and the incredible impact she is having on children through the power and play of music!
Jam with Jamie is one of the most dynamic children's music classes, and group of party entertainers we've come across. Tell us a little bit about your approach and how Jam with Jamie came about.
Jam with Jamie is all about having fun and PLAYING! We tend not to take ourselves too seriously. Any party, class, or event you find us at we are there to have as good of a time as you are. All of the performers on our team curate a personal experience with each family- caregivers and children. It’s an incredibly special environment that we strive to provide, and most importantly we want everyone leaving every music session with full hearts and a big ol’ smile.
I have been working with children for 15+ years as a musician, teacher, and performer. As an actor in New York City, you can imagine I had every job under the sun but one of my biggest loves is singing with children so it was a natural move to start Jam with Jamie in 2008. For five years I hit the NY Pavement, running music classes during the week and up to 6 parties in one weekend. When I booked a role in the Off-Broadway musical Wanda’s Monster, with music by Laurie Berkner, it was time to find some back up for Jam with Jamie. I then began to hire and train performers for the company. Once I realized I didn’t always have to be at the party for it to be a success and that I could find amazing childrens' musicians to perform the shows and classes I created, I ran with it! We have now expanded the business to eight states with over 40 musicians and various types of children’s entertainment working with the company.
Walk us through what a Jam with Jamie class and party look like.
We can bring everything you need for a party or event when it comes to children’s entertainment. As for music , our sessions run anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour but we customize for the clients needs. From solo guitarists to full band options- we come with dynamic props and instruments including bubbles, parachute, shakers, scarves, and animal puppets. We do small intimate settings up to 300+ events. The age range could be anywhere from 0-8 years old. We recently added a Big Kids Party for the 5-8 year old age range that can feel a bit like a mini bar/bat mitzvah. Fun dance songs, games, giveaway props like sunglasses, hats, necklaces, and a fun limbo session! We also work with fantastic balloonists, face painters, photographers, have custom cake options and more!
For our musical playgroups, we curate to the group. It is always a fun intimate environment where we explore props and instruments that are age appropriate and sing songs that are customized to each group. You’ll find a lot of sing-a-long, movement, song variety from pop/rock to classic children’s tunes. We keep it fresh and fun so that the kids AND the caregivers are having a great time.
We also run educational programs in preschools and have a full music & movement curriculum. Our specifically formatted, musical enrichment program uses age-appropriate, research-proven methods to further develop children's relationship with music.
One of the things we love about JWJ is that the playlists appeal to adults, too - it's not only about the kiddos. How do you find inspiration / curate your songs?
It is so important for us to stay fresh with our song-lists. Most of our inspiration comes from the people at our parties and classes! We get multiple song requests and once they’re under our belt and we know it works and gets a crowd going, we will make adjustments to the set. Also, a lot of the “jammers” on our team experiment with songs and medleys and will share with the rest of the group. We all inspire each other!
As a party entertainment expert, and now a mom to 2 delicious boys, what's the secret sauce for creating the perfect kiddo celebration?
We have a lot to offer, but honestly- keep it simple- you don’t need every single corner of your space to be filled with something different. If someone is working with us, my recommendation is to have one music session bookended by face painting and/or balloonist. Don’t feel like you need a whole craft table or a million things (echem bouncy house), the kids will get overwhelmed. Find one activity and the rest of the time the kids will eat, play and enjoy each other. I notice when a client does too much, not only are they overwhelmed but the party guests and kids are overwhelmed too!
What have been the surprises—both terrific and trying—about parenting and running a business?
Finding the time to do it all. Before kids I thought it was hard BUT IT WAS SO EASY! The amount of time I had pre-kids, omg I really had no idea how much time I had on my hands. Now it feels like I have two or three full time jobs, and juggling it all isn’t easy. But the secret is knowing it doesn’t all have to be done today. To turn off at 9pm, have some me time and start it all up again in the morning.
Since we're play people, we have to ask, what are your favorite ways to integrate play / toys into your classes, as well as your kids' daily routines?
We are big on exploring, providing a prop or instrument for the children to have and letting them discover what to do with it. We will lay out props in front of the children and not force little hands to play but rather let them find the prop for themselves. It’s so much more rewarding for the child that way! I am the same way with my own children.
We know that JWJ is constantly growing. Tell us what you are most looking forward to this year?
There is so much that we are up to right now and it really is exciting. I am thriving when I am collaborating, and I feel incredibly grateful to be working with a lot of amazing partners. I am looking forward to inventing and continuing the current projects I am working on and exploring new opportunities as well!
What are your favorite Rose & Rex toys?
This is hard because I love them all but here goes:
Scarves, shakers, and puppets- that’s always my jam for play exploration and I love your take on them!
Lightning Round Questions:
Favorite song of all time?
I honestly don't have one because I love so many different songs and genres. But the first one that comes to my mind is No Diggity by Blackstreet and I have no idea why!
Favorite Ice Cream?
Early Bird or Night Owl?
Heels or sneakers?
The super power you would have is:
Books or movies?
Plate of french fries or slice of cake?
You have an open plane ticket—where will you go?!