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.

CAN DO MUSOS RADIO STATION

“Muso” or “musos” are terms used widely in parts of the world to describe a musician or group of musicians with passion and dedication to their music.

About Can Do Musos

A Can-Do Muso is a musician with challenges who is very passionate about their music.

Can Do Muso’s was established to promote and support musicians with disabilities from all over the world

Mission Statement
Can Do Musos want to provide guidance and hope to all musicians with challenges. Music is empowering and has no limitations and everyone should have a chance at their dreams.

Having a “Can Do attitude” is the first step toward success

so why not give all or any of these Artists a chance in life.
to show you there talent to impress your audience weather or not its just for a small event or major event.
are you looking for music to play on your main stream Radio out there.
People hear the word disability or challenge and automatically screw there noes up and think they are not good and is worried about if they are going to waist there money on hiring these bands or artists.
Just remember we are
dedicated to our music just like every other artist out there.
so before there is any criticising or judging Aartists with a Disability or Challenge jump on bord checkout http://www.candomusos.com website and read all these great biographies of each artist or listen to there great Music by going to the link below saying welcome to candomusos and download our 1 hour Podcast and you will be amazed in what you hear.

WELCOME TO THE CAN-DO RADIO SHOW:
Each week, THE CAN-DO RADIO SHOW will feature music, gigs and interviews from musicians who each have a challenge to overcome. We only play music from artists featured on candomusos.com website. For 1 hour each week, your host Andrew Hewitt, will be playing a blend of Pop, Rock, Metal, Blues, Country, even Classical.

How To Access An Audio Description Movie On A Mac Computer By Phillip Chalker

HOW TO ACCESS AN AUDIO DESCRIPTION MOVIE ON YOUR MAC COMPUTER

Information for blind or vision impaired people.

Accessing Audio Described DVDs on a Mac Computer.

I was recently very excited to discover that I could play audio described DVDs on my Apple computer. After inserting a DVD into my MacBook Pro and expecting my wife to have to help me turn on the audio description, I was shocked to find that I was actually able to do this independently, without having to rely on sighted assistance.

I sat back and waited until the computer loaded the DVD which in this case, was a film called “Valentines Day”. The film loaded through the program DVD player that comes with all apple computers.

After the DVD began to play, I pushed the space bar while having VoiceOver on. This paused the movie so I could just hear what VoiceOver was saying. I then pushed the VoiceOver keys along with the letter M, which took me up to the menu. I scrolled along the menus until I came to a tab saying “feature”, where I was presented with a pull down Menu, which I accessed by using the down arrow and VoiceOver keys. I kept moving down the menu until I came to a sub-menu labelled “Audio”, which listed a number of different audio tracks that were included on the DVD, one of which was “English for the vision impaired”. After selecting this option, I restarted the movie and was shocked to find that I had been successful in turning on audio description. I now watch audio described movies on my Mac all the time and wanted to share this trick with other people who are blind or vision impaired. Happy viewing

AppleVisPodcast557 mp3

Tuning In- an alternative approach to music leadership by CMVic

Tuning In- an alternative approach to music leadership by CMVic

Leading a music group can bring challenges as well as rewards, but how do you anticipate those pitfalls, read the signs and assess the harmony when you have the additional factor of being legally blind?
Phil Chalker is a musician and music leader from Gippsland who co-runs ukulele and song writing workshops, encourages people to find their voice and organises Big Sing sessions too. Since the age of 5, Philip was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease that causes vision impairment and, in severe cases like Phil’s, blindness.
Phil feels his personal experience and frustration of a mainstream education system which was ill equipped to deal with his needs has made him more mindful of the importance of being inclusive and remaining aware of group dynamics. It has influenced his preferred style of teaching and underpinned his desire to ensure that everyone feels at ease, within a group context, too.
Mentoring by fellow Gippsland musician, teacher and CMVic stalwart, Jane Coker, has assisted Phil in developing the skills necessary to facilitate and lead a group. Jane succeeded where various schools had previously failed, in successfully recognizing what Phil needs to learn and develop in a way that suits him. “Jane understands and inspires me…she makes me feel relaxed. She’ll say, ‘don’t tell me you can’t do it because I know you can do it.’ ”
A couple of years ago, Jane and Phil established The Uklaimers, a ukulele group for beginners and players of all abilities in Morwell. Co-running the group with Jane allowed Phil to observe her teaching methods whilst developing his own style in a supportive environment as he took the first steps in his goal towards autonomous leadership of a community music group.
In addition to the usual challenges faced by group facilitators, Phil has to consider how to tackle his inability to respond to visual prompts, relying instead on his aural ability to detect issues such as fingers in the wrong place or the wrong chord being strummed.
Tuning up the instruments for beginner students is also tricky, but Phil gets around this problem by using a talking tuner.
Establishing good communication is vital to everybody in getting the most out of a workshop session and Phil gets a huge amount from feeling that he is enabling people to try new things and share the experience of learning with him.
“I use oral cues such as ‘I do understand/ I don’t understand’. I make people turn the paper over and not look at it so that they learn the blind way. You can’t rely on reading the dots cos you can’t see them”.  

In addition to his music making, Phil is a tireless campaigner seeking to challenge the status quo about rights and access to the kind of things able-bodied people take for granted in life. Phil recently tried to organize a Big Sing for visually impaired and blind people, but had to cancel due to a disappointing lack of interest.
“Blind people are isolated. I’m trying to run workshops and uke workshops that include them but am not getting any responses.”
But instead of feeling defeated, Phil is more interested in finding out the reasons behind this. And he would like the seeing music making community to be mindful of the fact that blind people – including himself – are reluctant to attend events for fear of being a burden. ”You need to understand a blind person’s needs and the barriers faced by the blind community like transport to and from an event, for example.”
Phil is a regular on the Traralgon busking circuit, frequently playing his ukulele around the town. As a child he would listen to Elvis and his bedroom walls were covered in posters of the King but it wasn’t until his late teens that he was interested in playing. Picking up a 12 string guitar whilst on work experience in a music store, Phil found he enjoyed singing along with the instrument and finding his own harmonies.
With his personal musical seam well and truly tapped, Phil took his guitar to a Club Wild session run by Phil Heuzenroeder. He announced that he was “a muso just starting out” and found himself playing on stage that same night. This not only made him “so happy”, it encouraged him to believe in his ability.
One thing Phil used to worry about was doubting that people’s positive response to his playing was genuine appreciation of what they were hearing and not because they felt sorry for him: “Having a disability makes you question whether people are clapping through kindness or clapping cos you’re good… are they clapping for me or clapping for Roddy?” (Phil’s dog).
Phil’s story is a testimony to the importance and value of mentorship, skill sharing and support. Jane Coker and Phil Heuzenroeder were key people in his journey who met him head on and encouraged him to pursue his passion to teach and make music. In turn, Phil is himself a keen advocate of the work done by CanDo Musos, who support musicians with challenges, all over the world. He also runs Gippsland Disability Social Group.
So, if you or anyone you know is feeling dejected about overcoming a challenge, point them in the direction of Phil’s website. The strength of his spirit and determination to make the world sit up and take notice of him as a visually impaired music teacher, working to enable other people, is abundantly clear. And there’s information about how to take part in the Big Sing sessions he is planning to run over the course of the coming year, too.
Deb Carveth with Philip Chalker. February 2015 this Article
can also be found on CMV Blog