SUPER UKERS The Traralgon Journal Monday, 9 June, 2014


A Traralgon aged care facility was delighted to hear the delicate sounds of ukeleles recently.
Led by ukelele teacher Phillip Chalker, eight ukelele enthusiasts took to O’Mara House to entertain its residents.
“We played a good few classic numbers from songs like ‘How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’ to ‘Achy Breaky Heart’,” Mr Chalker said.
“There were 30 people watching and they were all clapping so they obviously liked it and would like to have us come again.”
Mr Chalker is vision impaired and despite this, now runs ukelele classes for beginner levels to advanced.
“After doing this, I’m confident in teaching one-on-one private lessons now anywhere in the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Chalker said.
“If any nursing homes would like to have me perform solo I don’t mind, or if any organisations would like to have me perform with my ukelele.”
Mr Chalker thanked Morwell Neighbourhood House for providing a space for his lessons.

Super Ukers – photo taken by Tom Morrison LV Express 2014

Phillip Chalker and his merry band of Ukers performed at O’Mara House aged care facility recently.
Photograph Tom Morrison

phillips Playing his own tune Link Disability magazine Article

by Rebecca Somerfield
Editor
Link Disability Magazine

Phillip says the ukulele is a great way of bringing people together.

Musician Phillip Chalker hasn’t let the deterioration of his eyesight hinder his music career. The talented guitarist, who is legally blind, leads community music workshops in Victoria’s Gippsland region, teaching participants how to play the ukulele and sing.

“I have been singing and playing guitar since the age of 18 and started playing the ukulele in 2012,” says Phillip.

“As a legally blind performer I love the ukulele as it’s a small instrument which is very portable and easy to get around.”

The ukulele – rather than guitar – is also a plus when it comes to Phillip’s Seeing Eye Dog, Roddy, as it doesn’t obstruct his ability to communicate with his dog.

“With a guitar I don’t have a free hand to give my dog commands, however with the ukulele I can just fling it over my shoulder and off I go.”

Phillip says though the ukulele can be difficult to master, with the right support and encouragement the instrument can be learnt by people of all ages and abilities.

“If they are taught by someone who is blind it encourages them to learn because they think ‘if he can do it, we can’.”

Despite the success of Phillip’s workshops his musical journey hasn’t been without setback.

“I have been legally blind since the age of five and am currently tackling the impact of further significant deterioration of my eyesight,” says Phillip.
“During my most recent formal music studies at TAFE this setback resulted in elements of the course not being offered to me because of (a lack of) adaptive technology to suit my eyesight and needs.
“I have had to identify, secure and learn new approaches that will work for me as a musician. I am determined to ensure that this does not permanently impact on my career and am currently building my skills as a performing and recording artist.
“To do this I work with a one-on-one mentor, Jane Coker, at my own pace from home with my own equipment. My Mac Book Pro comes with a built-in screen reader called ‘voice-over’ which has helped me in a big way.”
Phillip is also a passionate disability advocate, campaigning for improved disability access on V-line trains, for audio description services at West Gippsland Arts Centre and the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre and for the introduction of accessible inflight entertainment systems on Virgin Australia. He also volunteers with Community Music Victoria, encouraging people to form music groups in their area.
For more information on Philip and his workshops visit http://www.latrobemusic.com

article can also be found hear

Playing his own tune > December 2014 > Read Issue > Link Magazine

Phillip’s Crucial Companion news paper Article

Crucial Companion
By Stephanie Charalambous

Feb. 17, 2014

Phillip and Roddy
Phillip Chalker and ‘Roddy’ are calling on the community to get behind Seeing Eye Dogs Australia Photograph: Tom Morrison

Phillip Chalker will never forget the moment he met his new seeing eye dog Roddy late last year.
“I was lucky to get to pick out of two dogs, but this dog wouldn’t give the other one a chance to say hello to me,” Phillip said.
“I got a big lick right on my face and two paws up on my shoulder, as if to say ‘pick me, pick me’.”
The black Labrador is Phillip’s second seeing eye dog following Kransky, who retired due to arthritis.
“Kransky kind of had the cheeky temperament, licking girls’ legs and all that,” Phillip chuckled.
“Roddy, when he’s not in a harness, has got a really boisterous child in him.”
The Traralgon musician has retinitis pigmentosa and can only see shadows out of one eye.
He said seeing eye dogs had brought him independence, freedom and confidence.
“I wouldn’t be out and about and doing things if I didn’t have my seeing eye dog,” Phillip said.
“Canes can’t help you like a dog can.”
As well as generally guiding Phillip, two year-old Roddy helps him to find bench seats and even his favourite stores, following some positive reinforcement.
“You go up to the store, say the name of the store and give the dog a treat and by the third time, the dog’s got it,” Phillip said.
“Eventually they know half of your town.”
Phillip is encouraging the community to get behind Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, to help others who are blind or have low vision find their own canine companion.
Each seeing eye dog costs about $35,000 to train and there is currently more than a year-long wait list for people in need.
SEDA is calling for regular donations through ‘puppy sponsorship’ to support its breeding program.
To make a donation or become a puppy sponsor, visit SEDA or phone 1800 037 773.