Wendy Cooper: Music without boundaries

Wendy Cooper
Photo by Sally Ann Clarke

It was a strange happening really; a friend of mine that I was at school with rang me up one day and said “I’ve got this list of things from the library” and she said,”‘There’s all sorts of music, there’s play readings and”, then the penny dropped that I was visually impaired and I wouldn’t be able to go to the play reading … then I said “What I’d really love to do is drumming”.

Playing the gogo bells
I started off by playing the tambourine … and I thought I’m not really good at this as I can’t see particularly what I’m supposed to be doing with it. I’ve never played one before in my life. And so I started playing the gogo bells. I really enjoy it. It’s great. … it’s not necessary [to read music] in the Silver Sounds Samba band, so it’s ideal for me.

Paul and his whitsle
[The instructor] Paul’s got a whistle, and he blows his whistle. Sometimes he hasn’t got his whistle, or he sometimes remembers me and he comes over and taps me on my knee or tells me to carry on playing or stop playing or whatever. So I get signals, he sort of pays special attention to me and realises some times that I can’t see what he’s intending we’re suppose to do.  Sometimes the people next to me give me a nudge if I’ve got to carry on or stop or whatever they might be.

Making new friends
The people are really great, I mean, I’ve made a complete new circle of friends. They all seem to be there for the same thing, to have a good time and to enjoy the music.

Music therapy
It’s a regular habit you know to get into on a Thursday afternoon, off you go to samba. We look forward to it all week. I thoroughly enjoy it.  It just takes everything else out of your mind. You sit there and get absorbed by the music. If you were down before you go you are certainly up lifted by the time you come out. Sometimes I’ve even gone with a headache, you’d probably think it was the worst time to go and play samba but it goes. You know, it’s very therapeutic. You just get lost in it.

Wendy Cooper interviewed by Sally Ann Clarke on 31st March 2006.

Comments about this page

  • Hello, my name is Nancy and I first saw at article on Silver Sounds in the magazine Latest Homes. In July 2006 at the start of the school holidays (I work at Ovingdean Hall School for Hearing-Impaired Children so this was a perfect opportunity to come along). I took a friend along for support but unfortunately the Band breaks for summer holidays! I eagerly awaited their return and I finally got to a practice at the end of September. I turned up on my own and walked in and sat in the nearest chair(!) which had a bell and a stick on it. To my amazement two school friends Wendy Barton (now Wendy Cooper who wrote the above arricle and Wendy Tait (from my old school Dorothy Stringer) walked in! We had a good catch-up but it didn’t end there. As the room began to fill a girl called Terry walked in – I used to work with her back in the early 1960s (in the firm of Insurance Brokers called R.T.Williams) and she came to my wedding! As soon as I stared playing (no need to read music as we just follow what Paul [our wonderful mestri] shows us what rhythm to play) and my foot couldn’t keep still! Afrter the tea-break Paul asked if anyone would like to have a go on the drums (Repiniques) I volunteerd and thoroughlyed enjoyed the experience. I’ve continued to pay the Repeniques (which I love) but have also had a go on the Snares and Tamborims. It’s fantastic! I would say to anyone who likes a bit of rhythm to come along – it just makes you feel oh so good. I go back to work feeling on top of the world. Everyone there is so friendly and it’s a real mood lifter. So what are you waiting for! … We’d love to see you. We meet every Friday at St George’s Crpyt, St George’s Road, Kemp Town between 12.30pm – 2.30pm. We break half-way through for a cup fo tea. On the first Friday of every month we have a “Food & Drink” Raffle. The weekly subs are around £4.00-£5.00. I’m now the Secretary so if there’s anything you would like to know about the Band do please e-mail me on nancy.gater@ntl.world.com – I’d love to hear from you.

    By Nancy Gater (25/02/2009)

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