Wellington IUO • Catalyst • More Mind, Monkees, Music
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Direct from Windy Wellington
Australians think we punch above our weight in the global achievements vs population ratio, but that makes New Zealanders practically superheroes, it slightly pains me to say. One of their serial overachievers, Bret McKenzie, who not only is half of the brilliant comedy musical act the Flight of the Conchords but won an Oscar last year for one of the songs he wrote for the Muppet Movie, is also a co-founder of the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, currently touring in the US. One of the original members, Andy Morley-Hall is says in the article “We kind of think of it as inviting the audience into our living room, and coming [to hang out] and play some songs and have fun together.”
Music - the lifelong companion we're only just getting to know...
ABC television's Catalyst programme was extraordinary last Tuesday night (Episode 6) as it explored, in depth, the effect music has on our brains and our bodies. As well as neurological evidence from research and MRI scans, there were some beautiful, profoundly affecting moments showing people with advanced dementia regaining their sense of self when listening to their favourite songs, and people with Parkinson's Disease being able to dance smoothly and with perfect balance when a rhythmic piece of music begins. Emotion, movement and memory are what tie us so strongly to music, described as a 'proto-language', or one that humans developed pre-speech. And oxytocin, the 'bonding' hormone that our bodies produce in situations from hugging to childbirth, was discovered to increase when people sing together. Hopefully you can still catch the programme for a while on iView, and be aware, you may need to wipe your eyes a few times!

Along those lines, this story and its associated links in Medical News Today takes a look at current research and findings on the interplay between music and our brains and the possibilities of its use in a range of therapies and treatments.
Sleepy Jean
This week's songsheet is a popular classic from The Monkees, Daydream Believer, written by Californian singer/songwriter and performer, John Stewart. As well as playing guitar, banjo and uke and having been in the Kingston Trio, Stewart went to Pomona Catholic High School which was co-educational for a decade post WWII until a boys school was built and it was back to the more usual situation for those times. There is a lot of piano in the song so I've had to very slightly modify the intro riffing to make it uke suitable. It's in the key of the YouTube clip.
Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra performs on KPBS Midday Edition
Here is the WIUO performing on a popular daily talk show in San Diego last month. Whereas the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have adopted the serious and slightly ironic uniform of black suits and bow ties, this group has taken an obliquely different approach.
Does anyone actually know what this song is?!
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