The Bearbrass Asylum Orchestra is a Melbourne band. Its members Jess, Anthea and Tim all have disabilities. They play original music and other peoples’ music. They sing about love, sex, death, disability and British mythology. The band has a song called ‘Welcome’. It is about the more challenging and personal aspects of living with a disability. The band hopes it can educate the public. The band won an award for the music video of the song.
I could not get by without music. Music has helped me in so many ways; surviving boarding school, motivating hard work at the gym, and feeling blessed in church singing hymns. Over the years I have wallowed in love ballads to cope with a broken heart. Uplifting bouncy tunes have helped me survive short-lived career moves. Music is a great cure for loneliness and boredom. I just go with the music and feel the flow and beat of excitement.
I attended one of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's classical concerts a few months ago at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. At first, I was worried that I would not be able to go because of my limited walking ability. But I found that there was lots of help available for people with a disability. A young man with Cerebral Palsy also appeared in the concert. I ended up having a great night.
In October I saw the English musician Billy Bragg at the refurbished Hamer Hall. The wheelchair seating was fantastic. It is very rare that venues enable wheelchair users to sit in the front row. The number of lifts, wheelchair accessible toilets and the low counters made the venue very accommodating for wheelchair users. But it was the wheelchair accessible seating which impressed me the most. The show was a tribute to Woody Guthrie and was part of the Melbourne Festival. A great performance and the wheelchair friendly venue made it a special night.
Looking at the title you might ask, can Deaf children participate in musical activities if they are unable to hear? Can they benefit from music education in their schools? The answer is "Yes". This story highlights how one Deaf school in Melbourne has successfully started a music program for these students and how they have progressed by leaps and bounds.