The magic of mu­sic

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - By KYLIE WIL­SON

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.

PHO­TOS: Kylie Wil­son

IN HAR­MONY: Judy Burns plays gui­tar to­gether with song­writ­ing work­shop co-fa­cil­i­ta­tor, Cat Hazell-Jo­hansen.

SHAR­ING MU­SIC: Cat Hazell-Jo­hansen loves play­ing mu­sic along­side work­shop par­tic­i­pants.

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