Andy Lawrence Franklin of ALF Drum Studios in Braintree is embarking on an exciting initiative for teaching people with disabilities how to play drums.
The idea came from seeing fellow drummer Rick Allen of Def Leppard, who lost his left arm in a car crash in ’85 when the band were at their peak. His band-mates waited for him to recover and relearn, and then Def Leppard went on to enjoy their best years.
However, most of us do not have the money for all the expensive specially modified equipment which enabled Rick Allen to play, especially in this time of austerity. Andy Franklin of ALF Drum Studios has found a way around that.
When I arrived at his studio last week Andy showed me how, with just some extra pedals and a bit of tinkering, he could play various beats and grooves without the use of either arm or either leg.
He also demonstrated teaching methods he uses when tutoring children with SEN, and explained how there is a way around every obstacle, be it physical or mental.
“Nothing is impossible. Music is for all and there shouldn’t be any barriers. It is good for exercise, good for therapy, good for the self, and so it should be accessible… But I must admit, I am finding it difficult to find the right corridors to reach the right people.”
That’s where he hopes Dancing Giraffe will come in. And we found out everything that you need to know:
Where is this project currently?
“As well as setting up the drum studio (above), website, and facebook page, I’ve been interviewed by Tony Fisher on BBC Essex, featured in the Braintree and Witham Times, worked with Ideas Hub, MENCAP, and various schools in Essex. Throughout all that I’ve developed my own drumming techniques and teaching methods for working with disabled people and children with SEN.”
What are the short term challenges and short term plans?
“The main challenge is getting known, getting people to understand, and getting connected so that we can reach the right people. Hopefully over time word will spread so the initiative can have a big impact, and leave a legacy… …My plans? Other than gaining exposure and increasing awareness, I plan to use the ongoing experience to learn from the students, improve upon my teaching methods, develop new techniques, evolve the concept, and improve the studio.”
What is the dream?
“Did you see the 2012 Olympics? I think it really changed our perceptions of disabled people. It proved to many that people with a disability can perform in sports just as well, and often better, than non-disabled people. I would like to see the same thing happen in music. Firstly, we need more people to get involved. I would like for our project to be recognised by the exam boards, who do not currently offer alternative examinations for alternative abilities. For example, some pieces of music on the curriculum are not playable if you have less than four limbs. With enough interest, and with the help of organisations like Dancing Giraffe, one day we could have a whole school of teachers and pupils, which would really make music as it should be – accessible for all.”
You can find Andy at www.braintreedrumlessons.co.uk