Whats the aim of Can-Do Musos and who can get involved?
Can-Do Musos was established to showcase musicians with “challenges”. We decided on the website to use the term challenges frequently, because sadly when you mention disability, people often think.. inability. Which is the opposite to what we are about. We are showing how much talent there is out there, despite the odds.
Can-Do Musos currently has 135 musos featured on our website from 16 countries across the globe. On top of our website, we also have a regular newsletter called Can-Do Musical Notes, and the Can-Do Radio Show where we play music only from the Can-Do Musos site.
We are always looking for new musos to add to the website. Whether it be a mental health issue, or a physical or intellectual challenge, if you are passionate about making music, we would love to hear from you.
How did Can Do Musos come about?
My wife Jenn and I travelled to the USA last year on a Cultivate Grant through Arts Access Australia, while in the US, we went to New York so I could have lessons with drumming guru Dom Famularo.
While at Dom’s studio in Port Jefferson, I attended a meeting discussing the frustrations of being an artist with a disability, and not getting offered the same opportunities as able-bodied musicians. The meeting was also attended by Dom Famularo, David Segal from Connecticut who is an incredible drummer despite having Arthrogryposis, and Mike Mignogna from Tennessee who is another drummer with Cerebral Palsy.
We all shared the same views and wanted to change attitudes toward musicians with any sort of disability.
What do you love about drums and percussion?
I love the fact when I am playing, whether it be a drum kit, or hand percussion, I can zone out into my own world. I play by feel, I love how it comes from inside you and evolves on your instrument.
What advice do you have for musicians facing challenges?
No matter what people tell you, follow your dreams, never ever give up. I have been a drummer for the past 35 years despite having Cerebral Palsy, over the years I have been told “nah couldn’t possibly…” have even had teachers refuse to teach me in the past because it was too difficult.
If I had listened to the negative people, I wouldn’t be the drummer I am today.
You are heading overseas soon and will be doing some stuff for Can Do Musos. Tell us about what you’re up to.
Jenn and I are heading over to Los Angeles in January to join up with Dom, David, Mike and a new board member Joe Hardy to present Can-Do Musos at the NAMM Show 2015. NAMM is a huge international music trades show and convention. It’s a huge honour to be invited to present there.
As well as promoting Can-Do Musos during the 5 days the show runs, we are hosting a 50 minute discussion panel on the 25th January where we will discuss music and disability, at the same time trying to encourage music companies, retailers, schools and even other musicians to embrace challenged artists more.
You’re involved with some pretty cool teaching projects too – can you tell us a bit about TRAP’D etc?
I have a few things on the go.
Im playing in a cover band at the moment, doing pub gigs around Sydney. The band is called THAT OTHER BAND, and we play classic pub rock stuff (Angels, ACDC, ZZ Top, Kiss, Poison, Chisel, INXS) that people want to hear Friday and Saturday nights out at your local pub. You can check out some videos and other info at our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thatotherband
As a drum teacher, most of my students have a disability of some kind. These lessons usually aren’t about finding the next Ringo, but more about building someone’s self confidence, showing someone they can really do something cool.
In my studio at home, I have 2 drum kits, a variety of hand percussion and a small PA system. Some of my students go for hand drumming, some drum kit, some even do a combination of both ☺
I also run drumming and percussion workshops from time to time for people with disabilities, have done a bit of work with The Sylvanbeats, which has been really cool. They are a great bunch of people to work with. I also run a program called TRAP’D which stands for The Rhythmic Arts Project Downunder.
TRAP is an educational program which teaches people with various disabilities to read, spell, count, and use basic life skills using a variety of guide books, flash cards and hand drums and percussion instruments… its counting and spelling aloud while beating the counts on the drum. While I was in the US last year, I also attended a 3 day training seminar for The Rhythmic Arts Project in Santa Barbara, California.
I guess I am fairly lucky to have a lot of support and been given a lot of opportunities over the years. I am an Australian endorsed artist for Pearl drums, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks and Remo drum heads and percussion.
Three words to describe what drumming means to you?
Passion… Infectious… Creativity
How can people connect with you?
People can visit my website http://www.drummerstix.com.au for more info about what I have going on, while they are at it, check out Can-Do Musos at http://www.candomusos.com and you can like these pages on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-Hewitt/ https://www.facebook.com/TrapAustralia, and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Can-Do-Musos/