Disabled Musicians Take Note

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One of my favorite time killers is surfing through craigslist.org. Lately, I’ve been slacking off on playing guitar, so I broke out the six string this evening and ran through a few tunes. One thing I’ve been severely disappointed in is how, since relocating to FL, I’ve let my music be replaced by other stuff. Music has always been a big part of my life, and playing gigs the last few years in The Lou was a real joy.

So, I’d like to get that aspect of life back in order. Jumped on CL, looked through the musicians section and saw a post about a disabled musician. In a nutshell, this guy is a lead guitarist who was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident two years ago. Dude claims he can make a guitar scream and I don’t doubt him. He wrote a lot about how he’s tried to get into a band, but to no avail and how he wonders if any band would ever want a paralyzed musician playing alongside them.

Most every response to this guy was positive and encouraging. One even suggested he stop by a music store in town which employs a bass player who has a similar disability. CL musicians are usually pretty ruthless to one another, mainly because it seems like they feel there are only a few openings for rockers and they’ve gotta talk smack on the other peeps or they’ll get the positions. So, to read encouraging responses like these was pretty cool!

Of course, there was the obligatory jerk. One jackleg had to throw out the typical idiot response. Something like, “Sorry dude, but you’re right. Audiences are looking for action on stage. If you can’t move around, no band is going to want you.”

Right. Like rock bands are known for their choreography. R & B? Yes. Pop? Yes. Boy bands? Yes. Motown? Yes. Rock? Nah.

Speaking as a guy who picked up an instrument four years after becoming disabled, I know the stigma around disability is sometimes overwhelming. I also know that if this guy is still at a pretty fragile stage emotionally, some dumb comment from a buffoon telling him audiences want action is a tough thing to swallow. When you’re in that sensitive of a state, one negative, discouraging comment can easily tip the scales from 1000 positive comments. For this player, I hate that.

What do we learn from all this? That sometimes people need encouragement, not poo pooing. Actually, people ALWAYS need encouragement, not poo pooing, but especially when it took such guts to put himself out there.

I hope this guy, and any other musicians with disabilities, will tune out the naysayers and continue to play. Rock on!

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