Wednesday 10 December 2008
When: 14 December 2008
Where: The New Conservatory, Albion Place, Leeds.
Description: Hey guys, come down to the New Conservatory this sunday for an afternoon of Leeds' finest acoustic talent, featuring The Brett Domino Trio, Hail Animator, and many many more. FREE entry, collections to Candlelighters - fighting children's cancer.
Please come down when you can - it's going to be a great afternoon :-) Thanks x
Click Here To View Event
Monday 1 December 2008
Music has been a way of expression for my emotions and thoughts; a language conveying understanding of feelings and moods, involving the small and the large of life; from a memory of a bashful kiss in a sunlit morning, to protest at the horror of injustice in a cruel world. Music has suited every purpose for me; reflected every stage of my life and every need. It is ever present in every aspect of what I do, at the very heart of my humanity, and yet so easy to take for granted.
I want to explore this relationship with music. I have learned through my encounters with others, and come to believe that the ability to appreciate and respond to music is an inborn quality in us all which remains unimpaired by handicap, injury or illness.
Perhaps one of the problems we face is that music has been commodified, we are all consumers and we buy and use rather than create and produce ourselves. We are sold expectations of musicality, where music is standardised within narrow confines. This excludes the individual's, unorthodox, unique, even ordinariness. It separates people from their own musical self, and that wonderful feeling of expression. How many times do you hear people say "I can't sing" because they have been taught not to believe in the authenticity of their own voice, and don't realize that they can develop and explore their own musicality.
I am in some ways new to creating music, I have strummed a guitar for over thirty years but it is only seven years ago that I started exploring my musicality seriously, along with my friend Denis. We started playing music together, guitar and harmonica. This led to taking voice lessons, and the shock of realizing that I could make sounds, pleasant sounds and develop and grow in my musical ability.
I suddenly found myself able to tune my guitar by ear, something I had never been able to do previously. Denis, Eve and I used to meet in our respective houses and play, improvise, create, write songs and melodies. We would start in an evening and play into the early hours of morning. It was wonderful, full of friendship, hot tea and chocolate. This was the birth of Oh Dee Mhac One and the Armley Music Feast.
That recapturing of creativity has given me back my own authentic voice of expression. In being creative I have explored my personality, and come much closer to penetrating and understanding the truth of my own existence and in sharing musical expression I have observed this is true for others too.
I have worked in the 'care industry' for the last thirty years encountering many people. Throughout I have brought my guitar and music with me, informally strumming simple songs, singing and generally having fun. This has always been about sharing, playing, singing and listening. In these informal moments it wasn't necessary to teach singing or to play an instrument, just encouraging the use of rhythm and a person's own voice enabled the world of sound and the creation of an individual's own unique musical language to be explored.
Society has a way of defining and labelling us all; A nurse, a father, a criminal, a boy, a girl, a disabled person. And in each of these roles there are expectations, roles to be played out; rules to follow. Though learning disabled people may have communication difficulties, limited social skills and physical problems, they often recognise that they are seen as different by society, a realization that is an emotional challenge for anyone.
I have seen music offer people access to important elements of themselves, making it possible to shake off if only for a moment, society's role or view and enable the person to define themselves. To be who they want to be.
Take 'Fred' for example, a young man, autistic, moderately learning disabled and shy. Fred walks with a stoop, speaks quietly and never looks you in the eye. This particular afternoon I had brought my Gibson guitar in to work and plugged it into my amp and hooked up a microphone to a stage amp. Fred picked the guitar up, and leaned into the microphone. Suddenly a wall of rhythmic sound blasted from the amp, and Fred sang his heart out, looking fiercely, proudly, directly at his startled audience of care workers and fellow residents."Look at Fred" said one nurse. "He looks different, magnificent"
And he was, he had found his voice and discovered a new side to his self, one that wasn't dictated by others but created by himself. Fred often now plays guitar and sings his thoughts to others.
Fred was transformed by music, no longer the learning disabled label, now in his own mind a creative performer telling his own stories through music enhancing the individual nature of his relationships with others. Through this musical experience Fred made his own positive changes, felt emotionally stronger and developed an increased sense of self-awareness, and enhanced quality of life.
I have many times seen similar scenes, with different individuals over the years. Making music is essentially a social activity of communication, listening and sharing. Through it we develop a greater awareness of ourselves in relation to others and discover greater confidence in our ability to make relationships and to find positive ways of expressing our selves. It is truly a form of liberation; to value each other as equal human beings in which we explore the value of our self and step outside the label society imposes on us.
(Name and place contexts fictionalised to maintain confidentiality and personal dignity).
Thursday 27 November 2008
...it was back to the original three, Denis, Myself (Andrew) and Eve. "Ah" we reflected "it had been a good year for Oh Dee Mhac One" lots of new musical adventures, playing live gigs to real audiences, (including the Delius cat!), hosting a successful Music Festival and a lovely song writing retreat in a Cumbrian cottage. "Oh" piped up one of us "Don't forget the recording of our own songs at the recording studio too". And more of the same we vowed in 2009.
Then there's the downsides, finding a drummer, losing a drummer, finding a drummer again, losing a drummer again. Hey Robert we miss you, but good luck anyway with your ventures.
...we sat a bit longer waiting for Michael to turn up, brother (mine) and lead guitarist, but again he did'nt. So the trio creatively jammed and practiced old favourites and new tunes- a good session, three friends satisfied with musical expression and content in each other's friendship.
Plans are a foot- new drummer in the offing (none other than Moreblessing), and perhaps a guest appearance from our lead guitarist.
...I feel the call of my guitar and as the good book says "if you spend too much time blogging and not enough time practicing- you'll be a crap guitarist"- Hmm, catch you all later.
Thursday 30 October 2008
We are currently thinking about how to put together next years Armley Music Feast- a musical celebration of difference, uniqeness and our shared experiences as people. Last year we raised £600 for Learning Disability units in Armley.
This year as well as a concert in the evening we would like to include a day of work shops on music creation and involving individuals who are learning disabled.
Any bands, groups or music therapists, or any one with an interest in sharing musicality, who would like to help, please get in touch with Andrew, through our MySpace site. For more details please follow the link below.
Thursday 11 September 2008
Saturday 23 August 2008
Thank you Delius for the Ginger Fringe (and much more, a prince amongst venues). This was a great three day event raising money for Macmillans cancer charity- loads and loads of great bands.
On top of that we have some some recording at the Soundmill recording Studio in Kirkstall- check out 'Gothic Queen' below- lots of thanks to Sy for his patient and understanding music producing, You can Visit the Soundmill at http://www.myspace.com/thesoundmill