We’re delighted to be welcoming community musician, lecturer and composer Graham Dowdall to lead our ‘Exploring music in challenging circumstances’ workshop on Thursday 30 March 2017. We have spoken to Graham in the run up to the workshop about his musical interests, inspirations and memorable moments. He also sheds some light on what attendees can expect at his upcoming workshop, tickets for which can be purchased here.
What are your main musical interests and what aspects of music are you passionate about?
“My musical interests are multiple and varied. I’m a performer, community musician, producer, teacher, improviser, composer, lecturer, trainer, drummer, electronicist.
I love exploring sound in its widest sense: finding the music in sound and at the same time finding the music in people regardless of their situation. I’m passionate about how high quality ‘musicking’ experiences can affect people beneficially in so many ways with creativity always at the heart.”
Which organisations and artists have you worked with, collaborated with, or been most inspired by?
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of brilliant organisations who have given me opportunities to do work that I love – people like Sound Connections, Rhythmix, Kinetika Bloco, Drake Music, Live Music Now, Sound Sense and many more who all work in slightly different ways but are all committed to using music to effect positive change. I’m often inspired by the young people I work with, who achieve amazing things and encourage me to see or listen to music in a different way. I’ve also been lucky to work with some incredible performers like David Thomas of Pere Ubu or Nico from the Velvet Underground and if you can’t get inspired by working with such brilliant artists, and many more equally talented but less well known, then nothing would inspire you.”
What has been your most memorable workshop-leading experience?
“Actually after twenty years as a community musician this happened two weeks ago. I’ve been working for two years with a group of 15 year olds with severe learning difficulties. We drum, improvise, sing and play together in an atmosphere of structured chaos, and there has been incredible development in their confidence, musicianship, communication, teamwork, and many other things. In the middle of the session we stop for refreshments and I use that quiet time often for some close interactions. After I’d been offering the iPad around I sat and rested for a few minutes. One lad, who has autism and down syndrome and before he came to music club spent much of his day in a ball facing the wall not communicating at all, picked up the iPad spontaneously and starting to strum the smart guitar in GarageBand. After a couple minutes another lad, who has profound autism, got up from his chair, picked up a Djembe, came and sat next to the other lad and a spontaneous jam ensued. The interplay and non verbal communication between these two, non-speaking lads was quite incredible – they took complete control of their own music making.”
Where are we most likely to find you?
“Holding an iPad in front of a disabled young person, tapping drum pads on a stage, producing grimey beats in a PRU or staring out the window of my studio waiting for inspiration.”
What can attendees expect to take away from the ‘Exploring Music in Challenging Circumstances‘ workshop?
“Hopefully some developed insights into the barriers that some young and older people face in their lives and in their music making, as well as some new ideas about how we can support and develop ‘musicking’ amongst people with challenging lives to unlock the incredible benefits that music can bring. We all know the power of music, and the more we can reflect on our practice and develop new approaches the better we can all be at helping to share life changing musical experiences.”