Dr Stephen Hetherington, OHMI’s Chairman, comments,
“Andrew has been an avid champion of OHMI for some years, expertly supervising PhD students each summer during their placement projects with OHMI. The first was our 2017 OHMI Competition winner, Duncan Menzies, who created the P-bROCK Digital Bagpipe Chanter, which later featured on BBC Breakfast News. Andrew’s skill in adapted instrument research and production, has, more recently, led to him joining the judging panel for OHMI’s biennial competition. The natural next step was clearly as Trustee, and I’m delighted that he has accepted the invitation.”
“I am very much looking forward to the value I can bring in building greater partnerships between the academic and music communities; making sure that adapted instrument design is based firmly on musicians’ needs, rather than on our assumptions about what’s needed. Our ultimate aim, of course, is to get those instruments into the hands of the musicians that need them, as quickly as possible.”
For all you romantics out there: yes, my new relationship is still going strong. We’ve even booked a holiday in Cornwall. We’ve ended up with a rather detailed itinerary since we’ve had to book everything in advance due to the pandemic. Looking at it now, it’s going to be action-packed, but who wants to sit inside doing nothing, anyway?
It’s been fantastic fun researching places we fancy visiting, and it’s gone far more smoothly than I thought it would, given COVID restrictions. In fact, we’ve only encountered one problem: a disorganised hot air balloon company that made it very difficult to find out whether people with epilepsy could fly. It was only after phoning them that we learnt that the issue was resolved.
I admit this doesn’t sound particularly awkward, but their website was somewhat contradictory on the topic. One page asked for a doctor’s note, another said the company would not take people with epilepsy. Considering the latter popped up after we’d paid, to say we were concerned we’d just lost £300 and couldn’t find a way to ask for a refund would be an understatement. My mum suggested phoning the company (Michael and I were all prepared to complain) and, as it always is with mums, the suggestion proved to be a good one; the lady confirmed that it was OK for me to fly.
This incident reminds me of something my dad often says: just ask. And this, I think, is good advice for disabled and able-bodied alike. In the past, I have been guilty of not asking for help when I’ve needed it and, subsequently, struggling to do things.
This memory raises the question; why is it so difficult to ask for help? After all, we ask for knowledge all the time; it’s the very foundation of science, academia and philosophy, to name but a few subjects.
As a child, my main fear was judgement, and the thought of explaining something about myself that I wished to remain hidden, terrified me. Of course, being a child, my parents were almost always there, so there was less need to ask strangers, but I still worried about asking for help from friends or teachers.
I should point out that I’m aware that there are other reasons why someone might not ask when they need help. My ex never asked for help because he feared relying on other people, and some of my friends won’t ask for help because they don’t want to put anyone out.
Ironically, most people don’t mind being asked and are perfectly willing to offer help. In fact, we are taught to do so; parents will insist children share toys, and many religions teach their followers that they have a duty to help those in need—the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan comes to mind here.
I learnt this when I moved away from home. Without my parents, I needed to ask strangers to pack my shopping, lift my suitcase onto trains and carry bags to my car. To my surprise (and delight), I discovered that most people were happy to help - something my mum and dad had often told me and which I had never believed.
Equally, many people worry about asking whether someone needs help, especially where people with disabilities are concerned. I’ve had my fair share of tentative questions thrown my way, often beginning with: “Do you mind if I ask...?” Variants of “whether you need help with...?” or “what’s wrong with your arm?” generally follow.
And I can see why people ask these questions with so much uncertainty. A quick Google search revealed how contentious a topic it is. Some people are insulted by such questions because they don’t wish to be defined by their disability. I can understand this viewpoint (I don’t want people to define me by my disability either), but I think there are flaws in this attitude. Though my cerebral palsy isn’t my sum personality, it is a part of me and has influenced the person I’ve become. That is not to say I haven’t been offended by such questions before - I was once asked whether I was “a spastic” - but I usually view polite inquiries in the same vein as: “Why do you like such-and-such a band?” or “What’s your favourite holiday destination?”
For those looking for an answer to this conundrum, I’m afraid I don’t have any. Though it might be better getting to know someone before asking about their disability.
o the long line of men who’ve been desperate to date me,
I regret to inform you that your application for the role of Amy’s boyfriend has been unsuccessful. However, I wish you all the best for the future.
Yes, my experimentation with online dating has been successful. I’ve met a lovely man, and it’s going strong. Most importantly, he has a dog, an adorable golden retriever called Boris.
We’ve been on three dates so far, one with our doggies, one without, and one at his parents’ house (compliant with COVID restrictions, of course).
It has made blog writing difficult this month since my head has been filled with thoughts of a budding romance and not music-related topics.
Therefore, I’ve decided to write about dogs. True, there is little connection between music and pets, but my dog has played a significant role in my life, particularly during the pandemic, and I know that many others have found comfort and joy in pet-owning.
Animals can have a significant influence on our thoughts and emotional well-being. When I’m anxious, listening to gentle music calms me, and when I’m frustrated, listening to loud rock music helps me get that anger out of my system. And each time I’m feeling down, my dog comes to comfort me. (It’s very hard not to feel just that little bit better after a bad day when you come home to find a waggy tail on the doormat.)
If you look after them, pets (dogs especially) can give so much back: unconditional love, loyalty, amusement and comfort. To me, the evidence is clear - dogs are often brought into old people’s homes, trained to help autistic children and can even predict epileptic seizures. We never trained our dog to predict my attacks, even when I suffered them regularly, but he always knew when I was about to have one. He was and still is a great comfort to me when I feel unwell. Admittedly, his attempts to help are not always practical - pushing his nose into my face, licking every available part of me and barking - but I appreciate the effort, especially when he brings me his (very smelly) teddy.
There has been something of a boom in pet-buying during the pandemic. The BBC recently reported that 3.2 million households have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, and the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association posits that this is in response to social isolation during lockdowns. Many people have suffered from loneliness since the COVID crisis occurred. Admittedly, you can’t have a deep, philosophical conversation with a dog, but they really do listen. And, “walkies” get you exercising and socialising - usually with other dog owners - which can be the start of a lasting friendship (my mum met her best friend while she was walking the dog).
Any pet can help your mental health. My sister finds solace in stroking her rabbits, and many people find a cat’s purring calming. I once read a report which showed that after two minutes of stroking a pet, people’s heart rates were significantly lowered.
Since I think we sometimes take the health benefits of pet-owning for granted, I dedicate this post to all the pets out there helping their owners through anxiety, loneliness, and sedentary lifestyles.
A team of people including instrument makers, 3D printing specialists and designers have been working on producing an entry level version of Peter Worrell's fantastic one-handed clarinet. Read more about how they are getting on in the first edition of the team newsletter.
If you are interested in joining the next meeting on Friday 16th April at 12:30pm then please email for the access code.
Have you ever cut a finger, sprained a wrist or broken an arm? If so, you may have found how challenging it can be not to have full use of both hands.
Children and adults living with an upper arm impairment have to find ways of undertaking day-to-day tasks that most of us never have to question. In order to experience the challenges that those living with disability have to address each and every day, we’re putting the nation to the test!
How well would you function with the use of one arm?
The money raised as part of this campaign, which takes place as part of OHMI’s 10th year celebrations, will allow us to provide much needed musical instruments and access to lessons.
Fancy joining us a fundraiser?
We’re looking for individuals, families, sports clubs, groups and schools, and companies, to join us in this appeal and commit to at least ten different activities over a course of ten days.
There are lots of activities that become significantly more challenging when carried out using one hand. Making a cake, doing a supermarket shop, writing a letter with a non-dominant hand – even hair washing!
To make the experience as authentic as possible, here’s a few suggestions on what our fundraisers can do to put their other hand out of service: