Club Wilber Sponsors’ Music Networking Event
Our Club Wilber sponsors were treated to an incredibly special music themed networking event, Lauren tells us all about it
Before January the world of business or networking was alien to me, and I’ll admit I probably misunderstood it. I remember Samantha asking me whether it was my thing; as a self-confessed introvert networking events, events of any kind leave me feeling anxious, vulnerable and somewhat like an imposter. I quickly learned that there was nothing to worry about, there is no rulebook for networking events, they don’t need to happen in a certain way. That’s why Club Wilber’s latest event intrigued me and many of the other attendees. Awaken your senses promised to take us on a musical journey but for me it delivered so much more.
As sponsors and business representatives arrived they took a moment to take in their surroundings; the beautiful Grade 1 listed Church of St Margaret has been converted, extended and transformed into the National Centre for Early Music. The blinds half drawn, the flickering of the large candles, the acoustics and tone of the music echoing in the magical space spurred my senses before the event had even started. The grand building set the intimate yet inviting scene for the day.
As we took our seats at our respective tables and met with members of our team for the day we prepared ourselves for a speech from Operations Director Samantha Scholey-Dyson. Her recent personal experiences guided a passionate, emotive speech in which her dedication to Club Wilber and people with a visual impairment shone through. Her reflection of the role of music in her life had already initiated discussion on my table about the event being more than just a music quiz. It’s a well-known fact that music can lift our spirits; science has now shown it has a physical effect on our bodies, too. As we listen, music works on the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling our blood pressure and heartbeat. It also works on the limbic system, which is responsible for feelings and emotions. By connecting us at a deeper level with each other; collectively synchronising our heart beats or brain waves, Music is a great tool for enhancing collaboration. As Samantha spoke it was clear why music was the chosen theme, as we listen to music, our brains are activated, it changes our brain chemistry and listening to music we enjoy stimulates the release of dopamine just as listening to chilled out, calm, soothing quieter music can help to alleviate anxiety.
After my tables diabolical performance in the music quiz, we were asked to apply our eye masks. In partnership with Dale Bartleson of YO1 radio, Samantha took us on a journey through many genres, asking us to explore music and how different genres made us feel. What song makes you want to dance like no-one is watching? What song instantly makes you sad? What is your favourite song? Now, I admit I am a huge fan of music across many genres and generations but my initial thought when posed with these questions was how much attention am I paying to the music that often surrounds me? There are certain songs, certain artists and definitely certain lyrics I can remember but I couldn’t seem to put pen to paper when it came to answering these questions. It led me to thinking about how we take music for granted, distracted by the feedback from all our other senses.
Acapella: defined as ‘music performed without instrumental accompaniment’ was pitched up against instrumental ‘music performed on instruments without vocals’. To explore the differences might be obvious but both genres spurred really emotion within me. The atmosphere in the room was a perfect platform to encourage me to focus on and listen to the lyrics in the acapella songs, conversely to allow my imagination to build lyrics or pictures during the instrumental. Some people would argue that vocal music can tell stories but how invigorating it was to create my own story during the instrumental; not the point that I was imagining Russell Crowe in Gladiator!
Its hard to define what motivational music sounds like; the songs played under this context led me to wonder ‘What music motivates me?’, I concluded that its all about perspective, the lyrics in these songs because the atmosphere created prompted us to focus more on the music. Much like the reflective songs, led me to think about how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day strains life, while we’re so busy we forget how important reflection is. I learned that reflective songs to me, are those that stop you in your tracks and spur your mind into reminiscence and imagination.
Next up was happy vs sad, self-explanatory you’d think but the story of my sad song often amazes people. Jackie Wilson’s ‘Reet Petite’ has always been one of those songs everybody likes to get up and dance to, but it will always be the song that was played at my best friends funeral. What I loved the most about this event was how these discussions came around our table, we all agreed that during the happy songs we wanted to get up and dance, feeling or visualising clapping or swaying, dancing along to the music. When my team discussed this stage of the journey they began to ask themselves, and me how people without sight are able to collect the type of visual experiences we were enjoying?
Dance music, Ultrabeat especially took me and likely many others straight back to Ibiza, remembering long nights with sore feet making memories. New Age music is intended to create inspiration and optimism. Often used in mindfulness, meditation and yoga it showcases music as a spiritual experience and much like instrumental music I found myself creating my own story. Being driven to listen to music without lyrics was one of the most enlightening experiences of my day, the magic of healing music is the perfect form of stress relief.
As if we hadn’t been on a musical rollercoaster the last songs were sad love (the heartbreak kind) vs happy love (I need you kind). By the end of these songs I was left thinking ‘How many emotions can music make you feel?’ The sad songs acted as a stabiliser, prompting reflection and nostalgia but also thankfulness for the memories behind the emotional response. Much in the same way the happy ones prompting gratefulness for everything I have today.
I wanted to write my experiences of this event; every day since I have listened to music differently. I have immersed myself in it rather than be distracted by it. Alan Cowen once said ‘Music is a universal language, but we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood.’ This quote is my big takeaway from my musical journey. Music on the whole can be a reaction to experiences but for people with sensory impairments it can be so much more, and I can see why Samantha chose music as a theme. Next time you’re listening to music why don’t you don an eye mask and see how different it makes you feel?
I would like to pass on my thanks to Samantha and Dale especially, also Owen Turner, Rey & Cara of United By Design, Michelle Mook of Pro-Development, Samantha Walton of Acomb Travel, Louise Saw of City of York Council, Tom Jackson of Jackson Photography for a thought provoking, inspiring afternoon that managed to raise awareness of the brilliant work of Club Wilber and the Wilberforce Trust. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and can’t wait for the next one!
Lauren Holmes Sensory Business Manager
Would you like to sponsor the amazing work that Club Wilber does and join our unique networking events? Take a look at our ‘Sponsor Club Wilber‘ page.
The Wilberforce Trust is dedicated to helping those with visual impairment, sight loss, hearing loss and other disabilites across York, North Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.