ParaQuad News

ParaQuad News • Autumn 2020 27 These musos Can Do… Andrew is active in his work to change perceptions of musicians with disability. He is a founding member and director of Can-Do Musos , a New York based organisation of 125 artists from 36 countries across the globe. ‘We started Can-Do Musos to make a difference for musicians with disabilities, just wanting the same acknowledgement and opportunities as able-bodied musicians’, he explained. ‘We miss out on gigs; we don’t get as much work’. Andrew goes on to explain that the group’s role is to provide advice, guidance and support for its members, which mainly takes place through social media. ‘I’ve been personally involved with many members’, he said. ‘If they need something, they contact me’. ‘We have everyone from bedroom musicians to touring artists. Mark Goffney just sold out Madison Square Garden’, he continued, referring to the San Diego-based guitarist born with no arms. Goffney was one of ten Can- Do Musos who appeared in the Rio Paralympic Games advertising campaign, shot at London’s Abbey Road studios. His main role with Can-Do Musos is producing the newsletter and maintaining the website, a full- time job. On top of that, Andrew produces the weekly radio show, averaging 100 listeners per week. All musicians featured are members who send in their music. ‘I never have to ask; people are keen to get their work out there’. In his precious spare time, Andrew also produces the organisation’s regular TV show. Hosted on , the show averages 72 hits per episode, featuring artists from England, Sweden, USA, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada. Making music accessible From his home studio in Penrith, western Sydney, Andrew is intent on making music within reach of as many people as possible. Students can attend lessons in person – his studio is completely wheelchair accessible – or via Skype. One of his recent students was a nine-year-old Adelaide boy living with cerebral palsy. Andrew sets up the drums to connect via USB to his computer and employs webcams and microphones to show students exactly what they need to do. For students with little or no lower limb function, Andrew uses extra triggers on the drum kit to replicate movement of the pedals. Past students have included people with spinal cord injury. March 2020 saw Andrew teaching his first NDIS student, using funds to pay for lessons. ‘His support coordinator was very keen for him to have drumming lessons with me’, Andrew said. He emphasis that he’s not looking for the next rock star; he simply wants to grow students’ confidence and help them see what’s possible. ‘I’ve had a lot of breaks over the years’, he said. ‘I started teaching to make a difference’. He has one rule when teaching: the word can’t stays outside the studio. It’s an attitude Andrew applies to his own life. ‘The word “no” is like a red rag to a bull’, he said. ‘I’ve always been told I can’t’. What’s next for Andrew? Having recently returned from performing at Young’s Regional School of Music – ‘I had about 30 people at each gig!’ - Andrew is keen to get a band together. ‘I’d like to try to get another cover band going’, he said, explaining that he hasn’t played regularly with a band for the past four years. He’d love to go overseas and do more playing professionally. Los Angeles is the preferred destination: ‘It’s more laid back than Sydney’, he explained. Those travel plans were put back somewhat in 2019 following a fall. With a fractured wrist, arm and tailbone, he found himself having to slow down. Reflecting on his habit of trying to do too much, he laughs: ‘I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not 21 anymore!’ Along with wanting more gig work, he is keen to teach himself to write music. He’s encouraging wife Jen to sing on the tracks he’s working on – she sang as a teenager and Andrew hopes she’ll perform his cover songs. He describes Jen as ‘the biggest supporter of all of this’ and gives her credit for the fact that he’s been able to travel all over the world. Andrew is keen to hear from both those who would like to take up drums, and musicians interested in forming a band. Andrew at drums Can-Do Musos received the Danny’s Impact Award at the 2020 Daniel’s Music Foundation Gala, New York City on Sunday 8th March in recognition of their service to the disability community worldwide. Congratulations! STOP PRESS: