When work in the music industry dried up last year due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, fate and a musician with special needs intervened and put Dan Nebe on a path of fulfilment and business success.
That business, Musicare, was born in March 2020 as the pandemic started to bite and Dan lost all his work and 95 per cent of his income.
It started when musician Ky Lovell’s mother asked if Dan could mentor her son, 19, for a few hours a week. So, they set up a three-hour jam session every Wednesday.
“It’s something I’ve always been interested in doing. I thought, now is the time,” he explains.
Ky plays keyboard, guitar (bass and lead) and drums.
“He’s always been a musician, since he was a kid … always had to make a beat,” Dan says.
Ky is completing a university course and also works with Busby Marou’s drummer Damon Joel.
Since he has been coming to Dan’s studio, his playing ability has improved, his confidence has grown and he has new-found energy. He performed his first show at Noosa Awakening in June.
“He wakes up at 4am and everything is music until he passes out at night,” Dan says.
Word has spread and Musicare now has 20 clients and two studios – one at Clontarf and the other at Woody Point. Dan plans to open a third at North Lakes.
He says the growing business now supports two full-time positions and three casuals.
“I’m using that 35 years of touring and that knowledge,” Dan says.
He says music is proven to activate parts of the brain, improve mood and boost energy levels.
His team works with clients who have disabilities, mental health issues and those simply wanting to learn more about the industry. These include Year 12 students looking to get a jumpstart on music degrees.
“I have people from 6-60 years and none are the same and every program is different,” he says.
They generally do 10-session blocks, but most continue once they see the benefits.
Dan will write a song with them, record it and make a music video they can share on Youtube.
“It gives them something to show for it and it gives them confidence,” he says.
“They pick the theme of the song, the keywords … it’s a way they can express themselves. I help them write the lyrics and we go into the studio. They’re pushing the knobs up for the levels at their capacity.”
He ran a songwriting workshop with the SuperJesus’ Sarah McLeod in May and will run another with The Church and Powderfinger’s Ian Haug on August 26.
There is a workshop planned in October, with the musician to be announced.
He says it is a rare opportunity to call on his friends in the business to mentor and inspire his clients.
The program gives clients confidence and a sense of worth, and is an outlet for those who need to redivert energy and feelings. Musical inspiration ranges from The Wiggles to Frozen, ACDA and Korn.
“I feel like they’re giving me therapy. I pinch myself every day when I come to work just seeing their faces when they create and complete something,” Dan says.