Connect with Zills is a place where you can go deep into the moving art of playing finger cymbals,
to be inspired and empowered by the pure joy of playing music in motion,
to grow with skill and presence into your own rich, real expression,
to feel your spirit ringing in your zills and moving through your body and bones.
Joy is pure and subtle like water – it spreads everywhere. Shamsuddin Tabrizi
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Jenna has played zills on the stage and in the street, around campfires, in church, for sound healings and meditations, at haflas, and for celebrations of all kinds. Known as a playful, soulful, and subtle performer and teacher, she loves surprises, and delights in improvising with zills in both traditional and creative new ways.
Her pioneering work with zills is rooted in decades of experience in performing and spiritual traditions of the Middle East, as well as diverse body-mind disciplines. She has been involved in music, movement, and healing arts all her life, including yoga and certification in massage therapy and Aston Patterning©. The deep well of her experience enables her to discern her students’ foremost needs in the moment, and to address them with wisdom, creativity and compassion.
Jenna has the rare ability to demonstrate and explain movements so skillfully that even the most amateur student can learn and perform them. Susan Whitefeather
What you are doing, and how you do it and teach it, is within the web of all life being connected. It’s not just a performance form, but a way of being ourselves and being connected to each other, to rhythm, to playfulness, to our feelings, to the fine details of movement and music and breath; to life. GeorgiaRose Park
Jenna began to focus on zills when she burned out from working as a massage therapist. Recovering from such a fragile state of low energy required her to deeply prioritize her life. Although she loved drumming, she could not physically sustain a separate rhythm practice, so she chose to fuse her rhythm and dance into one regular practice.
She gained a new sense of purpose when she began to notice so many dancers commenting that they could play zills just fine until they started moving. Inspired and curious, she dedicated herself to exploring the nuances of the art of playing zills while moving. Her experiments, both in teaching and personal practice, led to the creation of the Noor Method of coordinated practice, and a deeper appreciation of zills as a musical instrument. She documented this innovative work in her book, The Dancing Cymbalist, and over the years has helped many students relax and quickly grow into new expressive freedom playing zills.
I could see and hear myself improving, and feel myself gaining more confidence in zills and dance in just a few hours! Bettina Heap
Since our zillwork session last Sunday, I felt a gap of improvement even in this week. I was shocked! Cassie Dindinger
Her Iraqi Sufi teacher inspired her with his zill meditations, so she began to explore playing different sounds with many different sets of zills, and to develop a duet form of zill meditation with Amina Salah, who was similarly inspired and shares her love of zills. They collaborated through eight concerts over four years, and their work together culminated in the cd, The Sound of One: mystic cymbalism for meditation and healing. Jenna has also recorded zillwork with Billy Woods and Daveed Korup, Steve Mullins, and Ariana Saraha.
Your zills always take me to a meditative space in far less time than I could get to on my own; I love the journey. Jim Harrington
Jenna and Amina’s music induces such a deep state of reflection that I found myself noticing many subtle responses in my body. I felt awash in a profound sense of connectedness, even with the parts of myself that feel the most disconnected. All of the audience sat immersed and held, long after the music was over. Dana Harden, musician
In a sudden spark of inspiration, Jenna felt a strong desire to teach in a way that pulled all parts of her life into it: dance, Aston-Patterning©, drum, zills, veil, and Sufi inner work. Within two days, five students appeared and asked to study with her. The resulting Oyna Tribe was a powerful, decade-long experiment that brought joy, awareness, skill and healing to a closed group of committed dancers. This structure allowed a supreme sense of safety, encouraging unprecedented levels of playful engagement, authentic expression, heartfelt mutual support, and confident co-creativity. The word oyna is Turkish. It refers to any kind of physical game, playing a musical instrument, and playfulness – so it was the perfect name for this experiment.
The first time we played our zills in Tribe, I feared letting people hear me play because I knew that I struggled with keeping time. I learned in that first day that if I made a mistake, it was an okay part of the learning process. I no longer have fear about playing with others. Playing zills has even become a point of connection with my 13-year-old son. I play zills and he either does beat-boxing or drumming with me. It’s always spontaneous, silly and fun. Heather Hamilton
Tribe is a playful intricate sacred simple and profound space. This form of improvisational dance allows all of my wild messy exuberant self to be present. My sense of my body being my home and my temple is deepening. GeorgiaRose Park
Severe hip pain dramatically opened Jenna’s eyes to the healing potential of zills. At one point, she was in so much pain that she could hardly walk. Exhausted from days of pain, and frustrated by inconsistent success working with her movement, she impulsively quit trying and picked up a set of zills. She improvised passionately for several long minutes; when she stopped, she could walk without pain. This stunning event inspired new inquiry. She began to read research about the therapeutic effects of bilateral sound and motion, and set up an experiment in sound healing with zills for volunteer participants. Results were encouraging, and even led to a remarkable zill session for a woman with MS who suffered from neuropathy.
The vibrations seem to be as effective and maybe even stronger than the singing bowls. It is a significant energetic. Marlene Wolcott
I feel like your work helped to shift my energetic field by breaking up some of the heaviness I came here with. The sound was very penetrating, and I loved the different contours created by the different pitches of tone and speeds of rhythm. I was entranced and delighted by the beauty of the sound, and it brought up images of flowers, delicate lacy patterns and growing vines. It felt like the sound was strengthening the quality of beauty within me. At the end of the session, I could very clearly hear the sound current, one of the aspects of the Divine I work with and already have an inner relationship with. It is clear that, for me, the zills opened up the inner channels of connection to the Divine, allowed me to let go and be brought once more into an awareness of the infinite potential of the present moment. Christine Tulis, musician & healer
Improvising with some of the finest musicians in the area, Jenna has played her zills in monthly music meditations at the public library in Boulder, Colorado for the last several years. She loves stretching into new spaces of sound and expression, interweaving with the others, ever on the edge of the unknown. It is their favorite gig.
You’re such an artist. The cymbal subtleties are such a joy. Jesse Manno, musician
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