Band battle gives performers with disabilities a chance to shine

Disability no barrier for annual Battle of the Bands comp

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Noosa Heads 4567

Facial recognition technology used to diagnose intellectual disabilities
ABC Sunshine Coast

By Kylie Bartholomew

Updated

August 08, 2018 12:16:07

Video: People with disabilities celebrate individuality at Battle of the Bands

(ABC News)

Women with intellectual disabilities inspiring others to find work

(Supplied: Endeavour Foundation)
“A lot of the guys knew most of the words to start with so that helped,” Ms Bowling said.”We tried to bring in some key word signs as part of our choreography this year … and a little bit of dance moves as well just to mix it up a bit.”A lot of those signs are natural gestures but it can get quite complicated … we are trying to incorporate some of those signs into our songs.”Band member Brian Williams said he hoped the group’s daily rehearsals for the last three months would lead to a performance which would leave the audience thunderstruck.”I love singing on stage with my friends and practising everyday. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
“About three or four months beforehand we come up with a song first and then a name for the band and then all the fun starts,” Mr Lyons said.”There’s always a lot of enthusiasm choosing the song to sing and once the practise starts, the dedication kicks in and everyone really starts going for it.”

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As the music plays, Dean Adamson exudes confidence and joy banging on the tambourine and dancing. Photo:
Jamie Lyons (c) from the Endeavour Foundation guides the Wallace Park group through rehearsals. Photo:
The Nambour Believers take to the stage at the Battle of the Bands on the Sunshine Coast. It puts everyone in a really good place,” he said.”It’s just one of those activities that no matter how you’re feeling when you come into the service, everyone seems to pick-up when the music starts rolling.”Judges look for heart, expressionThe groups performed in front of a packed crowd in Noosa while Sunshine Coast musicians Michael Barry and Shaun Sayer gave feedback after each performance. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
“I can’t wait to see what happens and I’m very, very excited.”Melissa Webb plays the tambourine and was also bursting with excitement at rehearsals.”I like most songs … I feel happy and I just like it every time it comes on,” she said.Signing added to singing, dancingThe feeling of joy was one that resonated across all the bands participating, including Signs of Gympie which made the 200 kilometre round trip to the event for the first time this year.Endeavour Foundation support worker Carl Falkner said the band members jumped at the chance to be involved and incorporated key word signing into their performance.He said key word signs enhanced communication through a combination of Auslan and signing. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
Mr Lyons said the music, singing and dancing made a “massive” difference to the participants’ lives.”It’s great for everyone’s mentality generally. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
Sally Bowling, support worker from the Nambour Believers, said the group was excited to “up the ante” on last year’s performance with their rendition of The Monkees’ hit I’m a Believer. It is the Endeavour Foundation’s fifth annual event, which includes participants from service providers, schools and bands where the majority of band members have a disability.This year’s event was the biggest yet with 13 bands coming from Brisbane’s southside, Ipswich, Gympie, Caboolture and across the Sunshine Coast.Jamie Lyons, a support worker from the foundation’s Wallace Park group at Noosa, said the event stirred a lot of excitement. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
Mr Barry, who sat in the judge’s chair for his first time, said he was not looking for musicianship as much as he was looking for joy and expression in the performances.”If you don’t feel today in your heart I think you need to feel if you’ve got a pulse,” Mr Barry said.”It’s so amazing to see people expressing themselves and what music and creativity can do to bring communities together.”Whether you’ve got a disability or not, that’s something everyone can relate to.”Fellow judge Shaun Sayer agreed.”I know how hard it is to be out there on stage, but to see these guys on stage is just an honour to see them up there … they get a wicked, wicked buzz,” Mr Sayer said.”A disability is a challenge, it’s not a problem, that’s what people need to remember.”

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Groups from the Endeavour Foundation, schools and community groups such as the Sunshine Butterflies take to the stage in the Battle of the Bands. Photo:
Jason Wellington gives a passionate performance on the bongoes and harmonica. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
Mr Nicholls, who has been with the Endeavour Foundation for 20 years, said he felt happy when performing.”All our guys have been working hard to rehearse for Battle of the Bands,” he said. Photo:
Judges and musicians Shaun Sayer (l) and Michael Barry gave feedback to each of the groups after their performance. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
Singer steps into idol’s shoesFor Troy Nicholls, the lead singer of The Rollers and The Incredibles, belting his favourite tune You’re the Voice was an opportunity to pretend for a moment that he was stepping into the shoes of his idol, John Farnham.”I’ve met him in real life, it was an amazing dream come true,” Mr Nicholls said.”I got to go on stage with him in Sydney and meet him live.”

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Troy Nicholls, Gavan Wittenberg, Jason Wellington (drums) and Sally McKenzie in rehearsals. Photo:
Support workers Carl Falkner leads the Endeavour Foundation’s Gympie group through their performance at the Battle of the Bands. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew)
“Thunder [by Imagine Dragons] is a song they just love and we put some signs to it and it just all went from there,” Mr Falkner said.He said they loved the music, movement, teamwork and performing for the first time on stage, and the group was already discussing a song for next year’s event.”I think the support workers were the most nervous but when we got out there it was just fun,” Mr Falkner said.”It is a little bit daunting but once you’re up there all the nerves go and it just flows.”Upping the ante

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The 2018 Battle of the Bands attracted more than 120 performers from 13 bands across south east Queensland.
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After more than three months of planning and rehearsing, more than 120 people with disabilities from across South East Queensland have taken to the stage in the annual Battle of the Bands concert on the Sunshine Coast.
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