Stop.. Watch...Listen Never Assume
My name is Andrew Hewitt, I am a drummer based in Westmead, Sydney.
I was born with Cerebral Palsy and use a wheelchair to get around. This has never stopped me. I am a drummer, a music teacher and run a global organisation supporting musicians with a disability called Can-Do Musos. I have been a drummer for 36 years, have toured Australia performing at disability expos, festivals and conferences. I have also toured and performed in parts of the USA.
About 5 years ago, I decided I wanted to make a difference to other people’s lives and earn a bit of extra cash so I started teaching people with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down Syndrome and various other disabilities to play the drums.
I have a small studio with 2 drum kits side by side and a heap of hand percussion instruments. I have learned how important music and playing drums can be to a person with a disability. Drum lessons to someone with a disability works as a great social outlet and helps them gain trust with a person and build their self esteem.
Previously, students funded the lessons from a Community Access allowance which payed for the lesson and the support worker to be there with them. Now under the NDIS this funding has stopped, and NDIS aren’t funding music lessons.
For myself, the fact I was always told NO as a kid, made me more determined to prove the skeptics wrong. I have been looking into setting up as an NDIS provider, but realistically I have been told it can cost thousands, and you technically need to be a trained music therapist to be approved. I am not a trained music therapist, but I have been a drummer for 36 years, I have done numerous courses such as The Rhythmic Arts Project (USA), Holyoake Drumbeat and in July this year I did a Drum Circle facilitator course being run by world renown drum circle guru Arthur Hull. I was the only one who wasn’t a music therapist, but they all told me, I am more experienced than any of them with their pieces of paper.
On top of teaching, I also have been running drumming programs at disability centres around Sydney, although this has now dried up as funding has ceased.
Can-Do Musos was formed in New York in 2013 when I was in the states via an arts grant through Arts Access Australia. We wanted to make a difference and change the way people see musicians with a disability... we are not there to feel sorry for. I am the web guy, newsletter editor, social media guy and I also host online radio and TV shows which I produce from my little drum studio here. This is all done on a voluntary basis.
In January (9 weeks from now), I will be joining 6 other Can-Do Musos members on the main stage at The NAMM Show in Anaheim, California. NAMM is the largest music expo in the world and its a real honor to be asked to perform there... actually not only perform, but to open the entire show. I will be the only Australian.
PHOTO: Andrew and his NAMM Crew 2015
I am running a fundraiser through Ozcrowd to help with much needed funds to get there: Support my Campaign
I have been fairly lucky to get so much support from drum related companies such as Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Drumsticks and Remo Drumheads and Percussion. I have had pages added to their websites. The most recent one was for Zildjian cymbals.
If you are interested in seeing a bit of what I do. Check out my entry below in this year’s Focus On Ability competition. Apparently it came 4th out of 90 entries. My website is http://www.drummerstix.com.au