Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown

Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown“Throughout the pandemic and generally in times when the world gets tough on people music and musicians can often be the greatest therapists. Unknowingly they support and guide many of us through these difficult times but right now musicians and their vast team of crew from sound engineers to stage managers need help more than most with their entire industry unable to work. It’s because of this I am delighted to have “The Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown” release support the Irish Live Event Industry Crew through two great initiatives – Minding Creative Minds and the AIST (Association of Irish Stage Technicians) Hardship Fund. I am encouraging anyone who enjoys The Lockdown Ukulele Project to go to the ‘We Are The Support Act’ Go Fund Me Page and donate what they can.” – Niall Breslin

As we continue to grapple with social distancing and the changes that 2020 has thrown at us, it is more important than ever to know how to take care of one’s mental health; whether that’s listening to a favourite band, playing a musical instrument, getting outside, or taking a few moments to meditate. For Where is My Mind? host and presenter Niall Breslin, the positive influence that music can have on one’s mental health propelled him to create a special lockdown initiative: the ‘Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown’. To coincide with the release of the ‘Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown’ track, research was commissioned to look at the potential benefits that playing an instrument can have on the soul. It found that 89% of UK adults who regularly play an instrument feel it positively affects their mental health: more than half of us (56%) felt relaxed, 48% felt satisfaction, 43% felt peaceful and just over a third suggested playing music gives them a sense of purpose in life. To bring this to life, as well as to give listeners the tools they need to create music of their own, Breslin and his team bought more than 400 ukuleles and gifted them to individuals currently working on coping with their mental health. The budding musicians set off to hone their new skill, learning to play the song “ Home ” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros . After a few weeks of practice, the ukulele players came together — albeit at a distance— for a chance to record themselves on a brand new track and special music video set to coincide with a Where Is My Mind? podcast episode on the topic of music and mental health.

The recording features 400 budding Irish ukulele players, professional musicians, choir singers, Niall’s band The Blizzards , and some special Irish artists as guests. The lockdown track will drop on the Where is My Mind? podcast on Monday 27th July. The episode itself goes behind the scenes to follow the creation of the world’s first ever “Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown” band – with the episode providing the tools listeners need to learn an instrument at home and explaining the healing power of music. Dublin residents Emma Cooke and her dad both took part in the ‘Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown’: the pair were socially isolating together as Emma had been classified as high risk due to her ongoing chemotherapy, leading to feelings of anxiousness and concern about what lay ahead.

Emma Cooke, ‘Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown’ band member commented, “To keep myself strong and sane, I practiced yoga, mindfulness and continued with my hobbies. Learning the ukulele was such a challenge, but like anything you just have to stick with it, follow the advice and stay focused. Not thinking about the news or being attached to social media was hugely satisfying and gave me a sense of purpose. I will definitely continue playing, and would encourage anyone who finds themself in isolation, and facing challenges with their mental health to do the same. ”

Niall Breslin, musician, mindfulness expert and host of Spotify exclusive Where Is My Mind? said, “Music is an incredible unifier. I knew that sharing a musical journey would lift people’s spirits in a way that so little else could in the context of what was going on in the world. Now when I listen to the song we created, all together – all the voices, the whistles, the strumming, the singing, the energy – the love just comes right through the music. All of us, in our homes, all dealing with one of the scariest times in our lives; we all came together, we all came home, through this song.”

With 75% of those polled saying they specifically play their chosen instrument as a way of unwinding or de-stressing, when asked when most likely to play their chosen instrument, over half of (54%) said after a stressful day at work, 34% when worrying about money and 30% most likely to play when stressing about an upcoming event. The ‘Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown’ episode will mark the final episode of Season 2 of Where Is My Mind which has seen Niall and his guests explore different coping skills for the ever-changing, always-on, challenging world we’re now living in; from nature, to laughter, to love. The podcast won creative podcast of the year at the British Podcast Awards earlier this month.

A support-system for the Irish Music Sector – and beyond…

Last month saw the long-awaited launch of a free 24/7 mental wellbeing programme for Ireland’s musicians, songwriters, artist managers and event production crew – spanning the full length and breadth of the island – and enabling support for estimated 20,000 people in the process.

 

It’s the first phase of what will hopefully in time – if proven successful and the necessary financial supports provided – become a service rolled out to the entirety of Ireland’s globally renowned creative communities including (but not limited to) theatre, film and visual artists. The launch of the service, due initially in late summer this year, was brought forward in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic that’s had such a devastating impact across the music sector. Live work has been decimated, and as such income for many independent artists and their crews have stopped without notice – alongside clarity as to what the future holds for many careers in the process.

The service, crucially free to those who use it, covers access to a range of wellbeing services including a 24/7 dedicated phone line, in-person / telephone / video counselling, and an extensive web portal and app – enabling live chat function to ensure that the service is accessible from every region of the country. In addition to mental health support, the service can be utilised as a practical day-to-day resource – including legal assistance, financial & career guidance, consumer advice, life coaching, support for non-Irish nationals and their families, and mediation towards conflict resolution. As an all-inclusive service, it aims to be both preventative and reactive in its approach to supporting users.

 

It’s the brainchild of David Reid, co-founder & organiser of the RTÉ Choice Music Prize, and also involved with First Fortnight – a national charity that has been challenging mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action since 2010. Last year First Fortnight conducted a comprehensive survey amongst the music & creative community in relation to mental health and the responses were stark. 91% of respondents said that they had experienced anxiety, depression, or mental ill-health. 95% agreed there was a need for a dedicated mental wellbeing support programme for members of the Irish Music & Creative Community. Further proof, if necessary, of the importance of the service for communities we have historically held in such high regard.

 

Artists have come on board immediately, most recently with high-profile support from Kodaline – who highlighted MCM as their chosen charity as part of their recent Other Voices #Courage2020 live streamed performance – alongside notable praise of the service from James Vincent McMorrowFlynn,
VillagersTRUE TIDES and All Tvinns – to name but a few. Widespread heavyweight support has also been backed up by funding from notable Irish Music Industry bodies – including from IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation), Universal Music IrelandRAAP (Recorded Artists, Actors & Performers), The BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland), and IRMA (Irish Recorded Music Association) to ensure its survival.

 

The service ultimately aims to provide support for those who need it most – and become a permanent fixture in the support-system for the creative community that Ireland so desperately deserves.