fom stories

The Eclectics: Musician Feature

river chandler

Music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember; singing in British Music Hall as a young child; singing in choirs; acting, singing and dancing in musical theatre; and playing in the school band. I picked up (and put down) my guitar over the years, playing songs for small children in early learning settings, and learning a few folk songs.  Eight years ago, my queer, Jewish friends invited me to join their band, the Klezbians, to play Jewish and klezmer tunes for a range of audiences. I signed up for lessons and began to play rhythm guitar with the band. Four years ago, I decided that I wanted to play jazz. I started lessons with Avram McCagherty and attended a couple of jazz camps.

After enjoying playing in combos at jazz camp this past summer, I realized that I wanted to play jazz regularly in a band. I mentioned it to a jazz camp instructor who encouraged me to check out Friends of Music (FOM), and then to Avram, who invited me to join the Eclectics this fall.

Playing in the Eclectics is a wonderful experience! Learning and playing several new songs each week stretches me as a musician, which is a delightful challenge. The talented musicians and singers are welcoming and easygoing.

What I wasn’t expecting was the positive impact of FOM on my journey of recovering my mental health after a very difficult year. I am deeply grateful for this gift. I looked at articles and quotes about the healing power of music as I reflected on my experience, and this quote by Bryce Anderson spoke to me: “I’ve found that no matter what life throws at me, music softens the blow.”

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