Musings & Collaborations

Current Collaboration with Full Throttle Theatre Company - Nov 2017 
Charlottes Web

  We started today's session with an acapella call & response singing session to free the voice. We then began  a collaborative songwriting process with the 30 + kids in the show. Brainstorming song ideas encouraged their lateral knowledge of the script, linking their own imaginative processes to  the imagery. They were encouraged to play with the evocative power of Words - RADIANT ! -After all Charlottes Web, is about the power of three well placed words to influence peoples perspective of Wilbur! This process was lively and freed the creative space with kids that had previously been reluctant to songwrite. The process  was designed to give confidence to their own unique thought process, the articulation of it and then the realisation into the Performance.

New Collaboration planned with Toro Piko Piko Puppetry in NZ 2018

Anu Grace Music is engaging in a collaborative Work with NZ puppeteers/musicians. Toro Piko Piko Puppetry from Lake Taupo, have a long rich history of delighting NZ kids with fabulous educational shows featuring giant talking Maunga (mountains), Big Taniwhas (sea monsters) and moving Rock Art carvings. Much of these, the kids have helped make or learned to operate themselves in a finale Performance. Anu Grace Music and Toro Piko Piko are working on a Collaboration to Tour the Outback
in 2018-2019 where kids will be involved in all aspects of the creation including the Kids Ukestra to play and sing  the songs for the show. we are hoping to head to alice and central and Northern Qld to some of the places we discovered on our last tour north.


 I love how this happens .....we are driving out toward Burketown in the far north western reaches of Qld. I am uke-noodling in the passenger seat and this tune emerges then  3 verses of lyrics - entire!  We stop and record it on my phone ~ tears are streaming down Laurie's face - we are both in awe of this  weird, almost mystical process of song catching that seems to have a life of it's own. I don't know what the song is about yet, but i know to get the pen out quick and write. Suddenly I get it -it's about just that - the need   to trust these ephemeral wisps of creative ideas that arrive before my logical mind axes them. So fragile they evaporate at the slightest critical thought. Hair like threads of feeling and thought hang down and I've learnt over the years to pull them down ever so gently and anchor them with my pen.  I want to encourage kids to trust this quiet voice to give them inner strength  and guidance. A new song is born with the prettiest melody - called Dragonuke Dreaming  and I know it is the centrepiece of our New Dragonuke Album we will record next year.


Sometimes I read a poem that stops me dead in my tracks as if feeling something new for the first time. This was not even a poem but I added it to a song I had written several years ago at Wintermoon Festival. There  where the creek runs free & beautiful, Sophie and I spent long hours dipping our toes. The song Eddy the Leaf was born and was a favourite with Halelujah Baby for a while then kinda got dropped. When I read this writing by Paul Shepard from 'Ecology and Man' I knew what I was trying to convey with Eddy. "Ecological Vision .... requires a kind of vision across boundaries.The epidermis of our skin is ecologically like a pond surface  or a forest soil, not a shell but a delicate interpenetration. It reveals the self as part of a landscape  & the ecosystem because the beauty and complexity of Nature are continuous with ourselves......we must affirm that the world is a being, a part of our own being and evolve beyond our current anthropocentrism" But HOW? what kind of transformation is required to see ourselves as simply an interlocking piece of the web of Life rather than  destructive colonists  that know best.

Hearing Aids or Red Herrings- I aint ready for them yet!!

As a musician, Sound is more than just a part of everyday life, it is my livelihood. When I realised I wasn’t hearing as well as I used to, it was a protracted time of denial & confusion. Playing music wasn't the problem — my amp. could be tweaked to my advantage and the drums and loud guitar were only starting to be uncomfortable. My main difficulty was during conversations, where I thought I was hearing  but not completely understanding what was being said. It was making me withdraw from conversation and at times feel depressed as I pondered if it was a hearing or a cognition problem.

I went through a number of frustrating and disempowering experiences with 4 different hearing Aid companies each of them feeding me the standard line that if I didn’t do something right now ie buy hearing aids, my hearing would deteriorate much faster.  I saved the money to get a pair of Aids, scared I would lose what I had and finally bit the bullet and made an appointment in Sydney with what I thought was the best company I could find.

After the same inconclusive 5 minute test (hearing tests are never free by the way) they recommended the top tier hearing aids. I tried them on and played my ukulele and had the same experience as the first pair – everything was over amplified, sounding like tinfoil crackling. I was so disappointed as this company said they had tweaked them to my specific hearing loss but I couldn’t live with that. I wondered whether my brain would adjust and filter those sounds out eventually. I decided to do more research and find a professional that understood sound frequencies and in particular, could help me adjust to this situation as a musician.

Finally I found an audiologist in TSV, who was a conservatorium trained musician. I had emailed Grant from Clarity initially with my concerns and he sent back a really long, informative reply demonstrating he knew quite a bit about Sound. He was also not aligned with any particular brand- very important!!  Grant did a proper speech test, COSI (Client Oriented Scale of Improvement) test, communications needs case history, CAP (Central Auditory Processing) test or aided speech testing. Grant’s tests were also conducted with speech in varying noise levels so he could determine where my actual loss really was. After comprehensive testing he found I had a mild high frequency loss yet only two points of my hearing loss was aidable. Even the most expensive hearing aids would have made little difference!

 Interestingly the hearing loss Grant found was less than what I had been led to believe. We discovered that clamping a sensor onto my ear to test rather than using headphones actually gave me 4 decibels more hearing! The headphones were influencing the test which which made me feel quite deaf. Purposeful deception, I wonder? The new tests showed at normal conversational levels, I had 94% understanding and only 97% when amplified.

Grant provided some strategies to help me hear better in challenging situations and sent me home with NO hearing Aids! What a relief! I now make choices of which acoustic environments work for me and know I can modify my experience. I love going to Woodford Folk Festival but this year, I’ll be wearing noise cancelling headphones to make it more amenable to my situation. Little adaptations are already making a huge difference. I feel more empowered now to communicate my hearing disadvantage to friends and modify my environment and my positon in it. I am also teaching myself to maximise the hearing I have with lip and cue reading. I feel like I have my autonomy back and can take charge of my hearing loss with the information Grant gave me. Better still I can put the $5,500 into my Super and let go of the fear that my hearing is deteriorating fast realising this is pretty normal for my age, genetics and career choice. I’m also glad I have someone trustworthy at Clarity to monitor my hearing in the years to come when I may actually need hearing aids!


The James Hill Ukulele Method

Accredited teacher Level 3


Private Lessons in Ukulele and Voice

Pop Up Ukestras

Pop Up Ukestras are a great way to connect people into  a new passion for music. Experience the joy of ukulele in a group.