The magic of music
THE late Carrie Fisher has been quoted as saying, “take your broken heart, and make it into art”.
It is a motto that certainly rings true for a songwriting workshop currently being run at Wangaratta’s Mind Recovery College.
The workshops are developed by Wild at Heart Community Arts and run in partnership with Mind Recovery College.
And for students like Wangaratta’s Judy Burns, who lives with anxiety and depression, such workshops have helped her tap into her feelings to write a bluesy number entitled Playing With Fire.
Judy has been playing music on and off over the past three decades, and gets a real kick out of performing.
“I love getting up in front of people to perform,” she said, enthusing that Love Potion Number Nine (made most famous by The Searchers) and So Sad by The Everley Brothers are among her favourite songs to perform.
Learning to write songs has helped Judy express herself, and she said being in a workshop environment helped demystify what can be a daunting process. “I thought it was fabulous,” Judy said. “I love to write a good song.” Mind employee, volunteer, and songwriting workshop co-facilitator, Cat Hazell-Johansen, has been involved with the organisation for a number of years, and also runs their Monday Music Madness group.
She said music was a powerful therapeutic tool and also helped give people a sense of community and self-expression.
“I’m really just there to help people believe in themselves,” Cat said. “It’s amazing how people start to really flourish. “They start to reframe themselves based on their strengths, and are able to safely tell their stories in their own voice.”
Cat said many people attending the songwriting workshops already have a musical background, and often they can teach others musical skills.
However, the workshops are aimed at beginners, so people new to music are well supported.
She herself has been steadily learning guitar skills from Judy over recent weeks.
For lead facilitator Phil Heuzenroeder, who is artistic and managing director of Wild At Heart Community Arts, there is a real passion for social justice. “I work with people whose lives and stories are gold, but I think society mostly sees the dirt that’s covering it,” he said.
“For me, there’s incredible richness in getting to know people whose lives contain quite a degree of struggle and difficulty.”
Phil said music workshops are an excellent way to get your voice heard.
“There’s something very transformative about being able to tell your story in a culturally understood way, like a song,” he said.
“There’s something even more powerful in the validation of yourself when your song is played for other people and heard by them. “It’s deeply powerful.” The Life is a Song Workshops are currently running on Fridays at Mind Recovery College in Wangaratta.
For more information contact the organisation on (03) 5723 1000 or Wild at Heart Community Arts on (03) 9326 9970.
IN HARMONY: Judy Burns plays guitar together with songwriting workshop co-facilitator, Cat Hazell-Johansen. PHOTOS: Kylie Wilson
SHARING MUSIC: Cat Hazell-Johansen loves playing music alongside workshop participants.