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Happy Tuesdays: where music breaks barriers and builds bonds

In Whalley Range, the 'Happy Tuesdays' music group, is using the power of music in bringing people together later in life, combating social isolation, and creating a community.

The “Happy Tuesdays” music group has become an awesome testament to the power of music in bringing people together.

The group that meets at JNR8 community centre in Whalley Range is for over 50s looking to get out and socialise, and most of all, make some great music!

From humble beginnings, the group has evolved into a vibrant, multicultural, and inclusive community of music enthusiasts.

Beyond the notes and chords, the Happy Tuesdays have created a tight-knit family where friendships are formed and nurtured, offering a lifeline to those seeking connection and solace, particularly in the face of the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Community Harmony Through Music

The Whalley Range Community Forum, led by the dedicated community development worker Chris Ricard, has been at the forefront of building bridges and improving the lives of the local residents for decades.

Chris said, “Mostly, we started as a residents’ umbrella group for all of the other community groups in the area.”

This establishment is committed to addressing the multifaceted needs of the community, providing a variety of activities and programs designed by the community, for the community.

A Musical Vision Takes Shape

The inception of the Happy Tuesdays music group was a testament to the creative and innovative spirit that thrives in Whalley Range. Chris recalled the group’s beginnings, saying, “This music group started as a discussion.

My brother runs a music group that used to practice at Brunswick Mill in Ancoats, and that’s where the group started.”

It was a casual conversation that planted the seeds of a harmonious revolution in the neighbourhood.

The birth of Happy Tuesdays also coincided with a fortuitous alignment of forces.

Chris was in talks with Jane from All FM, who was working on a similar project called “Ambition for Aging.”

The project had funding available for older retired individuals in the area, which provided the financial catalyst needed to kickstart the group.

Music as a Unifying Force

Music has the exceptional ability to unite individuals from all walks of life.

The Happy Tuesdays music group is a perfect embodiment of this.

Comprising individuals who span a wide age range and come from diverse backgrounds, the group is eclectic.

“It’s such a wide range of people from different ages and backgrounds – all working together,” Chris stated. “It’s beautiful.”

With participants travelling from all over Manchester, the Happy Tuesdays have evolved into a truly multicultural, inclusive, and harmonious community of music enthusiasts.

As Chris noted, “We’ve got people coming from all over Manchester; most of the attendees are over 50.”

One Year of Musical Unity

Celebrating its one-year anniversary since restarting in April last year, the Happy Tuesdays group has grown from strength to strength.

The past year has been a journey of musical discovery, camaraderie, and resilience.

From Humble Beginnings to Centre Stage

The Happy Tuesdays group has grown from a small gathering of musicians into a thriving ensemble.

With a repertoire that spans rock and country numbers, their performances are awesome.

Chris enthusiastically shared, “Looking back on the FB page, someone joked about X Factor knocking on the door soon!”

The group’s talents have already been showcased at the “Celebrate Community Festival,” an event organised by the Whalley Range Community Forum.

“This year they played a concert in the lead-up to the Festival, then they played at the festival and got a huge ovation.

They do a range of rock and country numbers so everyone gets stuck in singing along.”

The Happy Tuesdays are set to embark on an exciting journey beyond Whalley Range.

Bill, a professional musician who collaborates with the group, is part of the St Helens’ Sinfonietta.

“Bill is a professional musician who works with them and is part of the St Helens Sinfonietta, and they’ve got a huge show over Christmas.

“They have invited the group to perform outside of Whalley Range, so they are going to St Helens to do a performance.

“It’s a great goal for them to work towards.”

Inclusivity and Support

The Happy Tuesdays music group is not just about showcasing musical talents; it’s about building a tight-knit community where everyone is welcome to participate, regardless of their skill level or experience.

As Chris emphasised, “Anyone who wants to come down and check out the centre can get involved. Come down for a brew if you’re feeling a bit isolated – you can just come along and shake a tambourine or whatever you like.”

The benefits of joining Happy Tuesdays extend beyond music.

It provides an opportunity to escape the confines of one’s home, expand one’s circle of friends, and discover new opportunities within the community.

“The benefits are it gets people out of the house, expands your friendship networks, and you find out about loads more opportunities in the area,” Chris explained.

Nurturing Friendships

The Happy Tuesdays group is more than just a collection of musicians; it’s a family where friendships are forged, nurtured, and cherished.

As Chris described, “Lots of great friendships have been formed, people who are initially a bit nervous, but because everyone’s so kind and encouraging, it’s become a real family affair, and everyone gets on so well.”

The group’s inclusivity doesn’t end with the music.

For those who wish to learn but are apprehensive, Happy Tuesdays provide a solution.

“Steve teaches the group, so if someone wants to learn but is nervous, they can have a few lessons, and learn some basics before they join the main group.”

This approach ensures that anyone, regardless of their musical background, can find a place within the group.

Fighting Isolation Through Music

As the world continues to grapple with the social and emotional challenges brought on by the pandemic, initiatives like the Happy Tuesdays music group have become a lifeline for those seeking connection and solace.

Chris noted, “I think a lot of people during the pandemic bought an instrument, thinking, well, what can I do now I’m stuck at home all this time? ‘Why not eh, let’s try something new.'”

The Happy Tuesdays group has provided a supportive environment for individuals to explore their musical talents, fostering growth and improvement.

“It’s been amazing to see them improve and come on,” Chris remarked. In a time of uncertainty, the group has offered a ray of hope and joy.

A Community Committed to Unity

The Whalley Range Community Forum and the Happy Tuesdays music group are beacons of community unity and support.

They embody the spirit of resilience and togetherness, showing that music is not just a form of entertainment; it is a powerful force for change and connection.

In the words of Chris Ricard, “The Happy Tuesdays are a really good example of what we do, bringing isolated people together through the experience of making music together.”

As they continue to make beautiful music and build lasting friendships, the Happy Tuesdays group remains a harmonious oasis in Whalley Range, proving that, through music, communities can find strength, joy, and unity in the face of life’s challenges.

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