folding over

I introduce Padma Newsome: BMus (Hons), MM, (Adelaide University), MMus, MMA, (Yale) Former of the ACO, the SSO, The Seymour Group, The National, Clogs, Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar, and Community Musician. 

Consider this scenario. I am tired, my hands are sore, I am in community strumming away, or scratching, singing.  Everyone around me is out of tune, no-one bothered to tune, except for the player with a new tuner who is still tuning, and my worst "enemy" sits at the drums. Kids lounge around on the floor with a dog. People dance, sing, and chat. 

Someone pulls up a chair and starts leading a few songs. Harmonies erupt, as if they are obvious, a rhythm that everyone knows (except me) starts up. 12 songs later, I realise I am out of my depth. I don't know any of the songs.  I am a prodigious improvisor, but I feel that I can't pull up a tune or solo to save myself. With eyes they try to include me, but too quickly their interest lags and they pull themselves into a spirit song. I am an outsider here. 

This was at the Bruthen Blues festival back in 2005. The music style was Funk/Blues, and 14 years later, I am now courageous enough to sit in, try hard to solo in style and try not to feel like a pureed classical musician. In reality I have a lot to offer community, and it me. 

I find this remarkable element in all community music I have encountered in Regional Victoria. I have heard numerous choirs with complex harmonies, self-made song writing of huge import to community, event oriented bands, children making song with ease and joy, and the bringing together of large bodies of disparate hominids in shared cultural spaces. 

If we are to change our way of music making in Australia, we should bring the inside of us out, to encourage and support. We, that is you and I, the "elite" musicians, must learn from our community. Folding over is the way we can bring the community to us, and us to our community. Folding over attempts to understand the nature or the culture and instead of bringing my world to community, I attempt to adapt to community. That is NOT to say that I do not show my ways of making music. I simply adapt my way, so that it can be more inclusive. 

If we want to know what to support in community, we must find out about our community. This is not outreach, it is in-reach. The way in which we discover community is not by visiting once, showing art once, it is by being in community sharing, hearing, listening.