All posts by CMVic

Community Music Victoria is a not for profit, membership based organisation working to support, promote and facilitate community music-making across Victorian communities. We run singing and music leadership skills programs as well as offering mentoring and support to anybody looking to start a group. We conduct workshops and residential weekends where people can get together to sing and make music in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Sounds good doesn’t it? You can read as much or as little as you like about the organisation, by hopping on our website

Lose your troubles in the trance of making music – an interview with Pete Gavin


Pete Gavin wandered into the CMVic office (Melbourne, Australia) one Monday morning, with a few hours to spare and has been a valued member of the volunteer team since. Pete is a Ukemeister Extraordinaire from Bendigo where he leads Bendigo Uke Muster and The Uke Joint Jumpers who set a record in November 2013 for the ‘the most ukuleles playing on a poppet head’.  His earliest memory of community music making began at home, as it does for so many of us even if we’re not aware of this until we reflect back, “dancing around the lounge room” with his four older sisters and his younger brother.

Pete found his way into music making whilst he was still at school “One of my mates played guitar. That seemed cool, so I booked in to have some lessons and it stuck. It suited me.” While plenty of people take up the guitar at school, many will cast it aside as other things supersede that moment of interest and all too soon, the guitar is left to gather dust and sit forlornly in a corner. This obviously wasn’t so in Pete’s case, so how did he come to be so passionate about community music making and what is it about leading a group, which resonates so strongly with him?

“I’ve long wanted to share the amazing benefits of being able to lose your troubles in the trance of making music.
Being approached to guide the Bendigo uke group was a perfect fit. I never tire of seeing people discover that they too can make music.Ukulele: Great as a painkiller and an antidepressant. Only known side effects – joyous laughter and a sense of belonging.” Pete also speaks of seeing the light come on in people’s eyes as they grow in understanding and confidence.

We all look forward to catching up with Pete at CMVic on a Monday morning and this short interview came about as material for the CMVic blog, when we decided to ask him some random questions about himself which he was good enough to answer.
Whilst we knew that Pete is partial to good coffee, we’re now seeing him in a whole new light as his penchant for soup…. and chocolate has been revealed. (Stand by Cadbury’s!) But he’s far more likely to be found putting energy into promoting and sustaining his uke groups than cans of chocolate soup because he’s devised an effective method of facilitation and is clearly able to convey the magic of this simple instrument: “You need a number of them in order to sound good. The bigger the number, the more joyous the sound. Therefore you need friends and if you don’t have any you need to find some.”
As with so many interviews, we threw in a couple of daft toe-curling questions in an effort to be random and you know, a bit edgy, but they didn’t perturb Pete at all and he rose to the challenge admirably.  Eg: if you could choose one super power, which one would it be? He kept everything in context beautifully. His answer? “Perfect pitch or the ability to spell rythmn rythym … know what I mean…”
Pete’s answer to our final question provided further testimony to how community music making increases fulfillment. We asked him if he could make music with one person or band from any point in time, who would it/they be? To which he replied:
“Too hard….actually, you know what? I reckon I already do get a chance to play with the people I’d like to play with. Chief amongst the list, Pretty Miss Kitty and the rest of the Tequila Mockingbirds, James, Geoff, Steve, Del, Matisse and Mick the Filthy Gringo. Not to mention all the part time Mockers, too numerous to mention. The page isn’t long enough and besides, who knows when, where and with whom you’ll have the next amazing musical connection. The best moments are unexpected.”
We couldn’t have said it better.
Massive thanks to Pete Gavin for stepping up to the mark.
See here for more information about the Uke Joint Jumpers and Bendigo Uke Muster

Article by Deb Carveth
CMVic Online Editor

At CMVic, we’re not into beating about the bush, so if you’re wondering what a song swap is, well, it’s exactly that.

I told you we should have taken that last left for the CMVic song swap

One of the challenges faced by singing leaders is finding ways to source new material to keep things fresh and exciting not only for their groups, but for themselves. (Even Matt Preston must occasionally wonder what on earth to cook for dinner.) To overcome this, CMVic holds regular song swaps throughout the year offering singing leaders an opportunity

  • to come together and share favourite songs,
  • discuss any problems they may be facing, and
  • to try out new material in a safe supportive and friendly environment.

We can have our very own Song Swap right here! We’ve got some interesting things to share over here: Free Resources – send a song, and we’ll post here and share it with our fabulous community.

As well as extending repertoire, song swaps provide valuable time to check in and recharge with like-minded people and form the basis for new connections. In short, song swaps are soul food for anyone who loves a good sing. Visit our website for more information

Article by Deb Carveth
CMVic Online Editor

August 14, 2014 – We’re Going to Stay!

100 ukuleles playing “Should I stay or Should I go” -the Austin Ukulele Society (AUS), have also provided their presentation and music sheet for download.

Austin Ukulele Society (AUS)

August’s meeting, our biggest to date, had nearly 100 ukulele players singing and strumming a great tune by The Clash: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” The fast tempo and contagious rhythm energized our talented group who proved yet again what a wonderfully diverse instrument our beloved ukulele is, moving seamlessly from reggae to 80’s punk rock, to Tin Pan Alley tunes and Willie Nelson country.

You can download the lyrics and chords for “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” or download a copy of the presentation (what we project up on the wall for all to follow along).

A huge thank you to those who shared a tune they’re working on – you all sounded great, and we look forward to hearing more at the Rattle Inn on Tuesday, August 19, and at future meetings. 🙂

Vince, Phillip and Kevin, Janet
Erin, Ryan, and Michael
We’re looking…

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What do we want a Blog for, anyway?

Why blog?For ages, we eschewed social media at CMVic. We were almost afraid it would alienate us from each other; that we would sit at home screen gazing in increased isolation and forsake hooking up to make music. Because we prefer not to rush, but to relish things slowly in life (read funding shortfall, folks) the reality dawned on us only gradually that there was a whole online community thing happening under our very noses that wasn’t going away any time soon, which we’d be bonkers to let pass us by and that contrary to our initial perception, heaps of goodness, connectivity, and learning was coming from it.

Having accepted that this phenomenon had potential to be a great tool and not the cruel master we’d once feared, CMVic moved to embrace social media. Actually, ‘embrace’ might be slightly emphatic, it was more of a luke warm hug to begin with (even my grandparents beat CMVic to starting a Facebook page) but then another amazing realisation occurred: In terms of developing networks, communicating and resource sharing, the social media landscape in some ways, is an online echo of the very essence that drives us.

Hang on to your hats, world! Having gained momentum we quickly found our feet, collecting account names and logins all over the place to YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter among others and now, finally, we are blogging. We’ve propelled ourselves into the blogosphere, such a great word and synonymous – to me anyway – with the sound and feel of walking in wellies through mud.

Working as we do to promote and facilitate connections through music making, we have dreams that our blog will enable us to extend the CMVic network beyond Victoria, beyond Australia to a worldwide community of music makers, leaders and activists, and help us to promote the uniqueness of what we do here in our home state, as leaders, pioneers and supporters in the field of community music.

To connect with an audience of bloggers and followers who are like-minded people, to read and share their articles and to hear of their projects, philosophies and dreams for sustaining and growing the future of music making, whether they’re from just around the corner or somewhere around the globe is a magical and empowering thing. The CMVic blog is our glass against the wall to listen in to what’s going on out there, and it’s our tin can on a piece of string for telling everyone all of the great things that we do and what we’re all about.

Deb Carveth
Online Editor Aug 2014

Singing Glow

**Image by, this blog is in response to ‘Quiet Thursday – Story Prompt’

I look at this photograph and try to conjure a story. I am mindful that if we post this, that folk coming to read it may be wondering why I am looking at photographs of crumpets and not cornets.

But there is something really lovely about this image and it draws me in. The time of day in which it’s set is nebulous. There is a lack of natural light and the darkness and shadows; the pause in eating, food momentarily set aside, suggests a winding down, a reverence. There is no perceivable sense of rush, nothing to move on to, this is a moment being savoured in serenity and solitude. It suggests a moment following an event.

It implies something else, an activity or an episode in time, which has happened outside of the image that has led to this point. For now, I’m imagining it was an evening of song. This evokes recognition in me of the way I feel after I’ve been singing all evening.

Singing seems to open up new realms of possibility. It taps into a part of my mind which is free from responsibility or worry. It is like entering a meditative state of personal enlightenment, like going into a different room. And it leaves me with a warm glow like the one cast across the plate in the image.

I often return home following an evening of singing feeling too elated to go straight to sleep, and slightly removed from reality. Quite often, the house will grow silent around me, and I will find myself the only one awake, calm but on a natural high.

We would love to know what everyone else’s post singing snapshot would look like. I can’t be the only person in the world left feeling excitable and restless with a mind too stimulated to settle straight away, even if that same mind has tried to convince me that I am too zapped to even contemplate leaving the house, earlier in the evening.

That’s enough about me. We want to hear from you too, so what is your personal post-singing snapshot? If you feel inclined to share it, conjure up your own moment in time and leave us a comment…

Deb Carveth
CMVic Online Editor

Community Music Victoria – Website


WelcomeIf you’re looking for the brand spanking new Community Music Victoria (CMVic) blog then rest assured you’re in the right place so come right in.

That said, there’s no need to rush off, let us tell you a little more about what we do at CMVic. Here’s a potted history and a quick overview of the work we do.

Our vision for this blog is great interviews, articles and collaborations with community music makers disseminating the experiences of music and singing group leaders and participants; shared stories, reflections and philosophies.

We’re really fired up about making all this come to life to sustain and nourish the music making movement at a grass roots level, keep everything fresh and green, encourage new growth, keep people in touch with each other and to provide opportunites for new connections.

We’d love it if you decide to follow us in our journey and read as things unfold and take shape.

Deb Carveth
CMVic Online Editor

Strike a Chord

When I was an awkward adolescent, I’d seek solace from the world in music. Not music making; in fact I’d go to extremes not to have to do my piano practice and would spend lessons trying to keep my teacher talking so we’d run out of time. The music my soul responded to back then was by bands like The Cure: mildly maudlin but not too scary. Nice harmonics and a bit of melody thrown in amongst all the lyrics about love lost and being misunderstood by the cruel, cruel world, hey I was fifteen and thought nobody else had been. Ever.

After trying (disastrously) to dye my hair black like Robert Smith’s, I eventually moved on.

But music has underpinned each stage of my life and I’ll often find myself crying when I hear a cello, a violin or a harp, or anything played well.

What I overlooked for years was an instrument I’d had all along. My voice. Not a great voice, pretty unremarkable and yet blended with others in a group context something magical happens, and it gives me such joy to release it and feel it soar. Singing is the best feeling: it releases endorphins, connects you with other people and as instruments go, no awkward carrying case is required, plus you can whip it out at any old time and in any old place. Then there’s the zing you get from harmonising, oh boy. But I’ll save that for another time…

I haven’t been to my singing group for a while and I really miss it. I’m planning to start back, but in the meantime I’d encourage anyone reading this who’s never tried group singing to give it a whirl.

If you live in Victoria, Australia, and are looking for a singing group to join, have a look at the groups page of Community Music Victoria’s website. They’ll help you find one to go along to, and failing that they’ll offer you support and training to start one of your own!

Article by Deb Carveth
CMVic Online Editor