Main Image: Dennis Frahm singing during the songwriting workshop in Yeppoon (Andy Theo Creative). Listen: Workshop facilitator Narelle Schirmer speaks about the No Covers songwriting workshop and album release.
Martin Luther once said that “My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.”
It’s in this spirit that saw a group of budding Yeppoon musicians and songwriters come together for a series of workshops, culminating in the release of the album No Covers: Original Music by Resilient People.
The workshops were facilitated by local musician and music teacher Narelle Schirmer as a way to help participants overcome challenges such as depression, domestic and family violence, physical disability and mental health issues.
Narelle told 96five that many in the central Queensland town had done it tough in 2020.
“We had a heap of natural disasters in the area – we had fire, flood, cyclones and then COVID, it was a bit much. Our town and the Livingstone Shire seemed to cop all of that within a few months; it was like we were on the hit list.”
When approached by Carinity as to ways that Narelle could utilise her skills to assist the community, there was only one thing on her mind.
“I said that I’d love to do a songwriting workshop because there’s a lot of people out there at the moment with something to say. This time has brought about stresses and mental health issues because of these major events happening in their lives.”
The songwriters’ workshop was funded by the Community Recovery Challenge, a series of community activities designed to help build resilience in Yeppoon and the surrounding areas.
“Carinity Education Rockhampton set out on a mission to spread support to the local community through these difficult times in creative and innovative ways,” school Principal Lyn Harland said.
The workshops were run every Saturday afternoon over the course of a seven week period, with the assistance of a backing band to help bring the new songs to life.
Many of the participants had never written before and Narelle said that putting pen to paper was a huge help in facing life’s challenges.
“When you write a song, you put your heart and soul into it. Writing allows you to release any pent-up stresses, anger, fear or anything that you’ve been feeling.”
Suzie Baloh is one of the artists featured on the No Covers album and said that recording her songs was “something I dreamed of doing but never had the opportunity”
“I found the workshop to be of great benefit in learning how to work with others, in building confidence and self-esteem, and in realising that I am capable of a lot more than I realise,” Suzie says.
Narelle has been a long time professional in the local music scene and said that the workshops and recording had been one of the most inspirational projects she’d ever been involved in.
“I am so glad to have done this – I am incredibly proud of this. I watched people who were terrified of performing get up and play live. It was so wonderful and they were so empowered by their songwriting.”