by claudia . October 24th, 2013

This article is about a group of adults with physical challenges and musical abilities…The Sylvanbeats!!

The Sylvanbeats originally formed from a weekly drumming group which started up in 2010 after some of the guys from Sylvanvale Disability Services took part in some drumming workshops at the Spark Creative Arts festival and loved it.

We started off with eleven of us and a stack of Cajon drums and small hand percussion. We experimented with how we could use Cajons with the group – some sitting on the Cajons, some playing them like table tops, some using sticks and mallets. The first year was all about learning to play, learning to listen, connecting with each other, and having fun.

In time as our musical skills got better and better, we started doing small performances for friends and families. In 2012, we applied and were accepted to present at Arts Activate, the international Accessible Arts conference held in Sydney. This was the first time we had performed as a group in a professional theatre – and was a huge buzz.

We were then invited to perform at the launch of Hiromi Tango’s exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art and for the Culturally Diverse Carer’s Expo this year. Upcoming performances include at the Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability conference dinner this November in Darling Harbour and co-running some workshops with young people with challenges in primary schools.

More recently Andrew Hewitt has come in to run some awesome workshops…and he is a big HIT (excuse the pun) with everyone. We’re all looking forward to him doing more work with us.

All of our performance pieces are created by the group. The guys come up with beats, tempos, grooves and solos and then together we weave them into a piece. From the start we have explored dynamics, so as well as rocking out we also create super gentle soundscapes and grooves. We’re always looking for ways to extend ourselves and each other as far as we can. Some of us have better rhythm than others, some have more mobility than others, but as a group we gel… actually we rock!


With thanks to Marti Travers and Sue Popplewell from Sylvanvale Disability Services for their continued support, to Andrew Hewitt for including us with Can-Do Musos, and to the Sylvanbeats for sharing their grooves and spirits with the world!


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