Shedding the Blues strikes a chord
Music-based wellbeing group Shedding the Blues has shown great resilience and innovation to thrive amid adversity.
Started by volunteers from Queenscliffe Neighbourhood House and Bellarine Community Health, Shedding the Blues is an initiative that looks to create fellowship through a shared love of music. The group is focused on men’s wellbeing but does not exclude others from joining.
Shedding the Blues is the brainchild of Des Gorman, who is also the group’s co-ordinator.
He said while music is central to the group, it is not their priority.
“We’re using the music as a vehicle for them to connect but at all times the overarching focus in on health and wellbeing.”
In February, this year Shedding the Blues held its launch with a 100-strong crowd.
But as the coronavirus quickly spread, it was not long before Shedding the Blues decided they should stop meeting in person.
Mr Gorman has been determined the group continues meeting, despite being together physically not being viable.
“We’ve been regularly meeting via Zoom throughout the lockdown period,” he said.
“We vary the activities as much as we can. A lot of it is playing along. They bring their instruments if they can play an instrument, and one or two of the members volunteer to lead a particular song, which we send out prior so they can have a bit of a practice. They can either strum along with their guitars, or some guys bring to Zoom their bass guitars or bongo drums, whatever they want to.
“Because of the latency in Zoom we have to mute ourselves, so we’re playing along with the leader but it’s only him and us we can hear. Then we have a chat about the song and different ways of playing the chords, so we delve into a little bit of the music side of it.”
The group has consistently been about 20-30 strong at each gathering.
Mr Gorman said the lockdown had been restrictive but had also opened new opportunities for some.
“One of the pluses has been guys that did not know each other before are now collaborating and writing music, and then they’ll come and share that with us too.
“We know that playing together online has its drawbacks, so we have to keep looking at ways to keep motivating people to engage with that. And I think so far, we’ve been quite successful given the feedback we’ve got.”
Earlier in the year the group successfully applied to be part of a Men’s Health and Wellness program through the City of Greater Geelong council. The first of four sessions was held on Tuesday this week via Zoom.
People interested in joining Shedding the Blues can head to their Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/456968771854382.