TJ - Together With Music Story
A Song Is Born
TJ always enjoyed singing in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, until a friend encouraged her to pursue her talent. She went along to the Phoenix Cultural Centre in Woking where Elaine McGinty, CEO and host of Radio Woking’s Fiery Bird show took her under her wing and helped develop her talent.
Her love of music grew, as did her confidence. It was here that she was introduced to local guitarist and songwriter Graham Armfield and they began playing together at open mic nights at her local pub in Guildford. This continued for several years with TJ covering her favourite artists including Sade, Alesha Keyes and Adele as well performing original songs written by local song writers, including Graham.
The pandemic was a huge setback for TJ. The performing which had become such a big part of her life was taken away from her and she was losing her confidence. She heard about Together with Music’s Songwriting Tour and jumped at the chance to go along, clutching a stack of post-it notes which she’d been using to pen her ideas for a song.
During the workshop TJ and the rest of the group, which included children and older people from the community, shared their personal feelings and fears about the pandemic before working together to use those personal experiences to compose a poignant song called The Last Two Years. During the session, TJ built a close connection with IMM programme director, Emily Abbott who recognised how well TJ responded when she worked with her individually at the piano and using the song-writing techniques from the workshop ‘The Clothes Peg Song’ was born.
A self-confessed technophobe, TJ doesn’t have the confidence to rely on reading her lyrics from a digital device when she sings, and her song was about the trusted pegs she uses to secure her words onto a wobbly stand when performing.
After attending the project TJ re-discovered her confidence and has performed both songs at her local pub, The Rowbarge in Guildford with fantastic feedback.
Since attending the workshop, TJ has been a regular volunteer at the Together with Music intergenerational, music hub in Trinity Methodist Church where she shares her love of music with children and older people from the community each week.
She has developed a close connection with Grace Watkins, IMM facilitator who manages the hub and is working closely with Emily to finalise the song in preparation of fulfilling her dream of recording it.
Emily Abbott, Project Director, Together with Music said:
“TJ was a ray of sunshine who loved life and music and performing. She was a primary member of the group offering personal stories and sharing her feelings with us. At the end of the first day, she played a song on guitar. This was the first time she had played her guitar in front of people but, felt comfortable and supported enough to share this. I knew that she had a song inside her that she wanted to write and on the second day I took time to sit with TJ and begin to compose that song. TJ has since been in contact and has performed this new song at her local open mic night, celebrating who she is and what she loves!”
"My story is a long one and I am grateful to so many people who have helped me along the way including Elaine, Graham, and Emily and Grace from IMM. My song is quirky and funny, very much like me. I have always wanted to make my own single so I can really feel like I’ve achieved something. I have been getting some great feedback and am very excited to perform the finished song in front of an audience. I always look forward to going along to the Together with Music hub, being there re-charges my confidence to keep on performing.”