Last month Executive Director Amy Pinder, Programs Director Leah Barron, and Board Member Taraleigh Weathers had a chance to have a conversation about accessibility and inclusion in the live music scene we know and love, along with Dr. Leah Taylor, an integrative mental health expert who focuses on the science of live music as medicine.

If you missed it, you can listen to the full conversation on the Groove Therapy Podcast here, or read the transcript below.

A screenshot of the Zoom call used to conduct the podcast interview. Four women are depicted: Leah Barron in the top left corner wears a braid and pendant necklace with a sunshine tapestry in the background, Amy Pinder in the lower left corner has long wavy brown hair worn down and a white spiral staircase behind her, Dr. Leah Taylor in the upper right corner has short brown bangs and sits in front of a funky lamp and dreamcatcher, and Taraleigh Weathers wears two long brown pigtails and sits on a colorful couch with pink, turquoise, and white hues. All of the women are wearing headphones.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Hello, and welcome to Groove Therapy, a podcast that explores the effects of live music on our brains, bodies and our lives and provides a space for you, our listener to learn more about how you can bring the magic of live music into your everyday life. My name is Dr. Leah Taylor. And I am joined here with my fabulous co-host, Taraleigh Weathers.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Hey, everyone, that’s me. [laughs]

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Hi, Taraleigh, I’m so excited about this episode of Groove Therapy.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

I am too because accessibility is such an important subject. And you know, the more I learn about it, and the more my eyes are opened up to it, like I’m really grateful and blessed that I am an able-bodied person. So I haven’t had to look at what accessibility is like, for others at festivals and things. And now that I am like becoming aware of it, I’m seeing kind of how it is such a problem, and really, there’s like a long way to go. And this conversation with Leah and Amy was even more eye opening. And they are just like warriors on the front line making a huge difference. And like, they created a whole festival that was completely accessible and sensory-friendly for people of all abilities. It’s called Inclusion Festival, and when people go there, you don’t have to worry at all, like, you know that if you are a human being that all of your needs are going to be met there. And I think that is so beautiful.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, it really is, I was so inspired, and just like, my eyes were opened to this subject too, in this interview. And, you know, you guys are gonna hear a lot more about this in the interview. But what really stood out to me is that the Inclusion Festival especially, could be so beneficial to so many people, even if you don’t feel like you need special access or not. You know, it’s like, there are certain things that live music can just be so stimulating to our nervous systems, that our nervous systems are already being attacked by so many other things that actually, if there could be a way to make it a little bit more manageable, we might even be able to integrate it a little bit more. And of course, we’re all about how you know, live music is so important for everybody. So to really think about how can everybody have access in the same way is really important.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, I totally agree. And there are so many, like amazing insights in here. And one of the things I was really like, well… was when they were talking about how stimulating it is at a show. And for people that are highly sensitive, that is a lot. And when I go to shows like I close my eyes, and I also wear earplugs because it’s so loud. And I was realizing that that was my way to make it less stimulating, because it is also a lot for my system as someone with ADHD. And so I was like, self doing it without realizing it. And when I went to Inclusion Festival, I actually remember that I wasn’t closing my eyes, and I wasn’t wearing earplugs. And I felt safe to totally be able to do that. And I had this like even deeper, impactful healing experience because I was less stimulated.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yes, that is so cool. And you know, that was the other thing. It’s like sometimes I think, at least for myself, I think of accessibility needs for people that are deaf, or people that are blind, or maybe people that have a physical disability and are in a wheelchair, or on crutches. But there’s also sensory disorders as well, that create, you know, the need for accommodations too, and a person might, especially if that’s their experience might not feel comfortable in asking for that or even feel like they need it or they should have it. You know, there’s just so much around that too.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah. And there’s so many disabilities and things that people are dealing with that are invisible, so they’re not able to be seen. So having accommodations for those people as well is so important.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Absolutely. Well, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Amy and Leah.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, so Amy and Leah started the amazing Inclusion Festival. And this festival began as the nation’s first and only sensory-friendly music and wellness festival and it was designed to include and accommodate individuals with autism and other special needs. Believing the concepts of inclusion are fundamental to all experiences and communities, they have grown to spread inclusion as a state of mind through year round events, experiences, consultation and training and they also have an online magazine and they believe that Inclusion Festival is for everybody.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yes, and Amy and Leah are so cool. I had never met them before. But like even just sharing space with them on Zoom was just like super inspiring. It just like, made me feel so good. So I can’t wait for you guys to hear more about them and more about their Inclusion Festival and also will say that they are also on the board for Accessible Festivals. Amy is the Executive Director and Leah is the Programs Director. And I think there might be a new board member huh?

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yes, I am about to be the newest board member of Accessible Festivals. And to let you know a little bit about what Accessible Festivals is, is they are dedicated to making live music and recreational events fully accessible for people of all abilities. By educating the public and bringing together like minded organizations, they can end the stigmatization involved with having a disability so that everyone can have the opportunity to have amazing experiences regardless of ability. Heck, yeah.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah. [laughs] So cool.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, so you are all in for a treat, and definitely keep on listening so you can get a taste of the Leah and Amy magic. We also want to say that we are part of the Osiris Network, and there are so many amazing and inspiring podcasts that are a part of this network. So please check that out. And also, we would love it. If you hopped on over to our Facebook group. It is the Group Therapy Community, wait, Group Therapy Podcast Community. Yes, I got it right. And also follow us on Instagram @groovetherapypodcast.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yes, I think that’s all the things.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

All right. Well, we’ll be right back with Leah, and Amy. [Instrumental music] And we’re back. And we have the amazing Amy and Leah back with us. And so our theme is inclusion. And so I have a question, What does inclusion mean to you, and either one of you can answer.

 

Amy Pinder 

To me. inclusion means feeling welcome in any place, anywhere, just being able to do whatever you want, when you want and the environments in which those things you want to do happen, they have the access that you need in order to be able to participate fully. So that’s aligned with feeling happy and free.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yes. And that’s Amy’s voice. For those of you that don’t know, Amy’s voice, that is her voice. So now you’ll be able to tell that and Leah, let’s hear your voice.

 

Leah Barron 

So Amy did a really great job, I think kind of hitting what we both feel is what inclusion is all about. But I guess just any person, you know, it doesn’t matter who they are or what background they come from, or what their beliefs are or what their disability might be that they would feel successful being in any environment that they choose to be, and that they feel welcome and cared for.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

That’s really beautiful. I know, I love feeling happy and free. And I am sure that I take for granted that other people don’t have access to that all the time. So that’s beautiful that you guys are doing, you all are doing this work in this world, and what inspired you to get involved in this mission?

 

Leah Barron 

So Amy and I met at a festival, and when we first met, we realized that we both we had a common passion and interest in that we both worked with people with special needs. I was a special education teacher in a public school at the time. And Amy is a speech language therapist. And we both had had this dream and idea that hadn’t really you know, we didn’t hadn’t figured out exactly what it was yet, but of having an event of some kind that would benefit people with special needs. So yeah, I mean, if you want to tell a little bit more, Amy, from there?

 

Amy Pinder 

I’ll rewind a little bit more, years before meeting Leah and attending my first music festival. It was just an extremely transformative experience for me. My boyfriend, now husband, introduced me to the music of Phish and I like couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’d never heard anything like it and I really liked what I was hearing but then when I went to my first show, then my first festival, and experienced that community, that vibe, I just I knew there was something really special there but also what bears mentioning is the first time I set foot in a festival I was so anxious I cried for an entire day. Everything was overwhelming. The sights, the sounds, there was a man…

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

What festival was it?

 

Amy Pinder 

It was All Good Music Festival in 2011. And my very first festival neighbor wore a dead snake around his neck, and [laughs] it was so wild. But as scared as I was, and like all of these things that I was seeing were so confusing paired with like just the crowds and the lights, and it was so overwhelming, but I worked it out, like in my own, like with myself, and I felt so much better and so much stronger after I left. And so I just kind of kept coming back to what it might feel like for someone who has more sensory challenges than my own and more symptoms that, you know, are more anxious feelings and tendencies. And it seems like wow, a music festival was an amazing place to work this out for myself, I bet this could be really beneficial for the people that I’m supporting in my professional life. So it was like this aha moment in my life. And then I was so thankful to meet Leah, and realized she had some similar ideas.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, so you were talking about you are able to work it out. But if people had more sensory issues, it might be like too much and an overload. So what are some of the things that you do at your events and festivals to make it sensory-friendly for all people? So everyone can enjoy it no matter what?

 

Leah Barron 

So I guess I’ll start with talking a little bit about Inclusion Festival, pre-COVID, because you know, some of the things that we had in place, we’re going to have to reimagine going forward. And you know, maybe it’ll be back to the way it was, but maybe not. So, obviously, everything’s kind of been shifting, but um, with Inclusion Festival specifically, sensory-friendly music. So basically, music is played at a lower volume than it might be at a typical event, probably, most likely. We are very mindful about the lights. So like very slow moving lights, no strobe lights, you know, muted colors, that kind of thing. We also are really proud of the sensory zones that we created. So we had different tents throughout the grounds that were spaced out really nicely. And they were all associated each of them with a different chakra. And so there were opportunities that people could go inside the tents. And you know, we had some workshops happening there. But it was basically opportunities for relaxation and play, which kind of ran like a whole gamut of different activities and offerings.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, so there’s these physical modifications that we made, like that Leah talked about, the things like the lights and the volume. And that’s not necessarily going to change at all, all shows, you know, no matter how much advocating we do for reducing the volume a little bit, which in my opinion, it really should be because it’s hurting our ears. It’s not… it really is. But without that changing, it’s the environment that we cultivated is what we got the most positive feedback on and what changed the possibility of being comfortable for long periods of time. And the space we created for people with autism and anxiety and sensory processing issues, there was just places to go, places to get away, and places to come back. And that’s still what I need at events. And I think it’s kind of maybe synonymous with what we all kind of need in life, like we need to go away, and we need to process and we need to decompress. And then we can come back. And you know, maybe we can learn a lot from those scary noises and those big lights. But there’s, you know, we need a safe place to go in and out of and maybe can learn that when it’s physically provided to you before you can like internalize that. So that’s kind of the direction we were going in with all of that, I think.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Do you also have people there to help people process that? Or is that something that they kind of do on their own, provided the environment?

 

Amy Pinder 

We had a really awesome security team who is very unique. Well, they changed their name to safety, not security, and that was kind of a neat thing that we worked through together. But the…

 

Leah Barron 

Grounded Roots Event Safety.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah. In addition to myself, and Leah, and some other volunteers that were well, that are well-versed in the special needs community, and we had that team. And you know, we didn’t have anything happen that required all that much attention from anybody that would have been able to support that kind of event. But I think it’s really important. And that’s something that we talked about, and that, you know, moving forward, we would offer more of. We’ve talked a lot about the intersection between what we’re doing and mental health in general.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, absolutely. I can see that. I mean, yeah, this is just bringing up so many things. I’m also thinking about, like, the people that I work with that experience pain, like because, you know, I know, for myself, and you guys do too, it sounds like obviously like live music is such a therapeutic experience. And, you know, I really see it as a mental health intervention, but for people, you know, who are experiencing chronic pain, like, it’s the same thing, like loud noises, bright lights, like that much stimulation just increases the pain. And so it’s not necessarily a place that they would be able to go. And I’ve often wondered, like, I think that it could be helpful for them. But then it also could activate, you know, their pain and their anxiety and their stress. And so that’s so awesome that you guys have noticed that and have even created these experiences to really help people to support them in being able to receive the medicine in a way that is more conducive to, you know, their experience.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

I actually never even like, I consciously didn’t realize this, but I’m realizing it now, when I go to shows that have the normal sound and lights and all the things I have my eyes closed most of the time. And I also wear earplugs to protect my ears. And so I kind of am like creating the sensory-friendly festival experience within myself, because it’s so much and then when I was at Inclusion Festival, I actually don’t remember that I ever closed my eyes. I don’t know that I was wearing earplugs either. I don’t think I was. And I was able to have this different experience because it was so safe for me. And so I could see why it’s so powerful for of what you’re doing.

 

Amy Pinder 

Thanks.

 

Leah Barron 

Yeah, I completely agree with you. And I’ll share… Amy was with me, but a couple years ago, we went to Lockn’ Festival, and I was having a challenging time. And I feel in part, like maybe I went through it to kind of get a sense of what it might feel like as a person who is having challenges mentally, like mental health challenges, being in the middle of this giant sea of people, and not really having a place to go. I mean, I felt it, it really impacted me a lot. And it was really hard. And so I think that creating these spaces, where people do feel safe, that they know where they can go, you know, whether they have autism, or they’re just having a challenging day, is really important. And also, like you said Taraleigh, like the strategies, like you’re, you know, you, these strategies you’ve probably picked up along the way because they help you to feel better when you’re in these environments. But I guess some people might might need a little help and support in learning what what works best for them.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah. And like, what you’re saying, too, is how sometimes we need to like, go through it. And then there’s like, something there, but also, knowing that there’s a safe space where you can like, get away and be taken care of, and that everything is okay there, I think is also important for being able to go through it like if you you might not need to use the space, but knowing it’s there will like help you take the risk to kind of like go to the place if that is somewhere where you need to go to be able to find healing.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah.

 

Leah Barron 

Absolutely.

 

Amy Pinder 

Definitely does. We’re talking about how hard being at a live music event can be, but it’s also so so beautiful. It’s so worth it to have those challenging experiences there. I’ve been listening to your podcast and learning more and more insights about why exactly that is. But you know, for me, it’s always been the vibe, there’s this incredibly loving vibe. And the music is almost like a simulation that can kind of mirror the ups and downs of life. And you can feel it in this way that like I can’t feel it when I’m not at a show. I mean, I can but it’s just much stronger. When you’ve got that whole, the resonance, the energy, it all combines. And it’s, it’s really good, good stuff. Yeah, live music, music shows are the best ever. Yeah, it’s funny, we’re talking about how hard it is. But it’s also like, the best ever.  Yeah.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

And I’ve definitely been someone who has like needed help. And people have helped me and I also am one who has offered help, and helped people. So it’s just a testament to our community and how amazing it is and that you can feel safe. And it’s so beautiful that you are a part of this community. And you’re like, how can I actually make this even safer and even better for people and then now you’re creating ways for that to happen.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, and I see live music too, as the opportunity to like create that self efficacy in ourselves because it’s like, oh my gosh, if I can survive in a sea of that many people and I can navigate myself to the bathroom, or I can be able to do this or I can be able to do that. It’s like it does provide that self efficacy that allows you know, that’s like in the world of positive psychology, it’s so important to be able to feel that we have that agency within ourselves to be able to do things and to show up in life and to navigate through life and I see live music as an opportunity for people to experience that within themselves. And also you guys are helping people who need extra support to be able to feel that and to experience that, and that’s really beautiful, because everybody should have the opportunity to be able to do that.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, you touching on self efficacy, and it makes me think about how… I’m a speech language therapist as well. So I focus on communication skills, but my entire career is explaining to parents all of the underlying skills that we need in order to be successful communicators. And it’s self regulation, and it’s self efficacy. And it’s like, being able to, like feel our bodies and make a decision and know what we need. And then you can say it, you know, it’s not, there’s just so many things that go into it. And that’s also a part of why I think music is so powerful. It’s this form of self expression that you don’t need to exactly find the words for, it can really help you feel what you’re feeling. And then finding the words come so much later, after all these other skills are, are kind of in place.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah. So in addition to the Inclusion Festival, do you also help to make other festivals and other places, like more accessible for people?

 

Leah Barron 

So we actually are just coming off of our first event that was outside of Inclusion Festival that we put together and Taraleigh was there. Ryan Montbleau performed, and I know you said that you had him or you’re having him on your podcast as well, which is…

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, he was our last guest.

 

Leah Barron 

Great timing. He was amazing. His music was so perfect. We were very lucky, in we developed this partnership with ArtsQuest, they put on MusikFest, which is a week long festival that happens, typically every year, aside from last year, in the town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. And they have all kinds of different programs. And they do concerts in different venues, they do a lot of free programming throughout the year. And they were totally open to this idea. We were able to kind of join together like another concept that we had been working on pre-COVID, which was Inclusion Dining. So creating sensory-friendly dinner experiences that anybody would feel really welcome and successful in participating in.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Within the festival, or is this separate, like just dining?

 

Leah Barron 

So the Inclusion Dining started, I was actually working at a restaurant in New Jersey. And it started there as an event that we tried out, we you know, I went to high school like in the same area. So I have a lot of connections like within the local community with the special needs population. So it kind of just made a lot of sense. And it started to grow and expand pre-COVID. So this was like our first event back, but we… it was like a dinner and a show, a dinner and a show experience. So Ryan montbleau performed, and, Amy, do you want to talk a little bit about the training that you gave?

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, we combined so many ideas. We gave inclusion community training to the staff. And we worked with the chefs to make the menu more inclusive and accommodate a wide range of dietary needs and preferences and there were just elements of our festival. Elements of playful mindfulness, and yoga, and creating that safe space. So dinner and a show. Those are two forms of recreation that you know, I think, transcend abilities. So that was kind of the other reason that we started with the dining and got to train the staff, got to demonstrate to the attendees, you know what, what inclusion and accessibility can look like. And it was a really supportive partnership, we really hope to stay on that path of partnering with other aligned organizations who could use our help with inclusion and accessibility. We need their help, too, because we can’t do every single thing alone. [laughs]

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, also, I was there. So I know all the things that you did to make it more accessible. And I thought it was so cool. And I learned so much. So would you be willing to share some of the things that you did to make the experience more accessible to everyone?

 

Leah Barron 

So we presented it like not only in house in the MusikFest Cafe, but we also presented a livestream, so it was kind of like a dual presentation. So with the livestream specifically, we had ASL interpreters, sign language interpreters, who were present. There was two of them, and they were amazing. They kind of stole the show.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

[laughs] Everyone was in love with them. They were amazing.

 

Leah Barron 

Yeah, that was… I mean, it was just the LVCIL, like they were like the local organization that supports individuals with special needs. And you know, we didn’t know them before, but they did amazing and people loved that. We also found a production service called AI media, and they actually had a live captioner captioning the entire show. And we were able to put the captions up on screens in the venue so people can see it on the screens in the venue, they had the option also, if you were viewing from home, that you could view the captions on the livestream like it was, you’re able to turn it on or off. And audio descriptions. Amy is kind of the expert about audio descriptions, if you want to talk a little bit about that.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, that’s honestly an accommodation that we learned about more recently. So and actually, we were trying something that apparently has never been tried before. Audio descriptions are meant to fill in the visual gaps for someone that is visually impaired with with no vision or low vision. And, you know, describe the scene what’s happening around the event. So, in a movie, you know, that would describe the actions of the people that couldn’t be inferred from just the dialogue only. But music is such an auditory experience, I connected with an organization that are experts in this and they told me, well, we do arts all the time, we do a lot of performances, we do plays, we do dance routine, like dance performances, but we’ve never done live music, because you can just listen to it. But you know, here we are talking about the vibe and all the other things that go into creating the feeling this warm, welcoming atmosphere that we all love. So we wanted to try describing that and giving more details. And we tried kind of building it into the show. And it went it went okay for the first time. But there’s definitely ways that we can improve.

 

Leah Barron 

So not to put you on the spot, Amy, but maybe since this is our first time on a podcast, you could audio describe or…

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yes!

 

Leah Barron 

Describe right now? Give a little example of what we’re doing right now. What you’re seeing?

 

Amy Pinder 

Right.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

I love that.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

I’m glad I took a shower today. [laughs] I’ve been in my jammies for three days, I finally changed. [laughs]

 

Amy Pinder 

I saw your jammies on Instagram. Hmm, well, I’m looking at a Zoom screen that’s divided into four equal squares. And there is a woman in each square with glowing eyes. We’re all wearing headphones. And we’re talking with one another with smiles on our faces. And you can see little details behind us that seem to represent something about the things that we like, in life. Taraleigh has pompoms on the pillow behind her, and Leah Taylor has a dreamcatcher in the background, and Leah Barron has a big sunshine on a tapestry behind her, and I have a spiral staircase that leads to a loft in my house, behind me.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Hmm.

 

Amy Pinder 

Something like that, you know, just kind of giving a picture of what’s going on which it wouldn’t be ordinary for podcast listeners, but…

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, now they know, we’re all sitting with headphones in our separate houses. Because when I listen to podcasts, a lot of times I think everyone’s together in one spot. So now they have an idea, right what that’s like, and you let me introduce Ryan, and describe him. And that was really fun.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, you did a great job.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

And then he was like, as I was introducing him, he started like twirling and dancing. And so then I was like, describing that too [laughs] so people really got a picture of his personality besides just hearing it from the music.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, exactly. I can imagine moving forward describing the audience as well like, the people dancing, what the differences might look like between the back row and the front row [laughs] Things like that.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

That’s so cool. I’d be interested in listening to that, too. [laughs] There’s so much I miss out on I’m sure when I’m at a show. I’m usually just like…

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, I think…

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

totally focused, in my own world.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

This could be a podcast in itself, like you audio describing shows. And like that’s a podcast like I would listen to that like hearing what the crowd, or like listening to what the crowd is like, and, and all the things that are happening and the energy and how the stage is set up. I would listen to that.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, that’s people watching is really great at shows. There’s never a dull moment. I think that Trey, of Phish, if I need to say it, I believe that he’s talked about looking out at the back. I can’t remember the details of why he said he does that. But he I think he said there was really good energy there, which I think is true, too.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Mmmhmm. Well, I love being in like an indoor show and looking, you know, when you can’t really see anything except for the light that’s coming in through the doors. And you can see everybody dancing, and it’s just like, it’s so cool to just watch the periphery and all of the shadows dancing around. That’s really fun. So I’m curious, as I was thinking about having this interview with you guys. One question that popped into my mind was just having you describe like, I don’t know, an inspiring moment that you’ve witnessed from providing access to people that might not be able to experience this. Does anything stand out to you about that?

 

Leah Barron 

For me, yes. I had… Taraleigh was there and Hayley Jane was there, it was at our second Inclusion Festival. And I had this moment where one of my favorite students who was in my classroom for six years he was arriving. It’s actually his birthday today.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Aww. Wait, what’s his name?

 

Leah Barron 

His name is Jaime.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Happy Birthday, Jamie!

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah.

 

Leah Barron 

So he was arriving at the same time that Hayley was starting this workshop where she was teaching a dance to this song that she was going to be performing on stage. And in the classroom, like many years before that we had, like, practiced and prepared talent show routine, and like, presented this to the whole school. So this is something that he was very familiar with doing, like just because of that. And he like, got right in and he like participated, and it was great. And I told Hayley that it was really meaningful to me, and she’s like, oh, what was his… what is his name? And later on, during her set, she actually like, at the beginning of the song said, “Hey, Jamie,” like calls him out and says, “Come on, come on up here.” And like he, you know, with the other people that had participated in the workshop, did the choreographed routine. And it was just like, it was this idea that I had that I thought would be awesome. Plus, like having him be a part of it. And like, just seeing it all play out was just, it just felt really, really magical and special for me. Because it was just, you know, like, everybody, just he was dancing. Amazing. And everybody was just being who they want it to be. And everybody was so welcome to everybody. And it didn’t matter, you know. So that was, that was really special for me.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

I remember that moment like it was yesterday, and I know who he is now. And he was amazing. And that was so much fun. Like we all felt like we were part of the show. And the people in the audience started doing the dance with us that weren’t at the workshop too. And were dancing. It was incredible. It was like everyone…

 

Leah Barron 

It was cool because people that that weren’t at the workshop were like what’s happened, you know, like, it was like, almost like an element of surprise that all these people knew what was going to be happening. So it was really cool.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Kind of like a flash dance.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, it was like a flash mob. [laughs]

 

Amy Pinder 

It was but because so many people joined in, it felt really, really inclusive. And it felt so representative of what we were doing, dancing in the same way. I think it really helped everyone feel connected in that moment, on a different level.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah. What about you, Amy?

 

Amy Pinder 

Well, one moment that comes to mind is actually from our Inclusion Festival Online this past summer. So we you know, in response to COVID, we tried moving the entire festival concept online. And we learned so much it was actually, I think it was a lot harder than having an in-person festival. There were so many unknowns and things that we couldn’t have foreseen because we just didn’t know enough about the tech aspects. And so it was a really, really difficult weekend, actually, we had a lot of things go wrong on the tech end of things. So Leah and I were like literally working next to each other around the clock like… the whole weekend, like we thought we were going to be able to relax and watch our festival that was the expectation that we thought, This is so cool. Like, normally we’re running around crazy managing this festival, we’re just gonna like sit on the couch, we’re gonna watch TV, we’re gonna dance… Anyway, it didn’t go anything like that. So just putting a picture of how hard it was, even though it ended up being really rewarding. We planned this Zoom dance party, like an after party, and we thought a lot of people were going to come, but not many people came. A student of mine came, and she was great, she was so happy to be there, we made her weekend. But what was more powerful to me was this one older woman came to our late night dance party. And she explained that she knew what the inclusion festival was, she had heard about it, she had no way to get there because she was disabled, and she didn’t have the transportation that she needed to be there. And she just was so thankful that she could participate online now. And it was so authentic and genuine. And so we had this dance party with like me and Leah. And I think there was maybe like three other people there. And she fell asleep on the couch [laughs] with her feet up. So by the end of the dance party, there’s just this woman, you couldn’t even see her face anymore. There’s the screen of a couch with a woman’s feet up. And it was just Oh, man, that moment was so funny, because this was the end of our dance party. And it couldn’t have been more perfect. But that meant a lot to me that that we were able to include her and it was an aha moment for how accessible livestreams are as an additional feature.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah. Do you think that’s something you’re going to like continue with?

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah.

 

Leah Barron 

Yeah, that’s one thing. I mean, that was a piece that came out of all this is that you know, anything that we do, we can present it online and then anybody can attend, anywhere in the world. And that makes it really accessible for anybody who wants to participate. So I do think that there’s a lot there, that we have a lot of opportunity in providing that.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, I’ve actually heard that from so many people that, like when this happened, and everyone was doing livestreams that they hadn’t done before, they were like, “Oh, I have like, five kids and I can’t leave my house.” Or like, “I am disabled, and I’m unable to leave my house.” And now the music is coming to my living room, and I’m able to watch it and it feels so special. So I’m, that’s like one of the silver linings, I feel like of COVID is people figured out how to do livestreams and do them really, really well. And bring really high quality music experiences to the people that can’t necessarily go out to a show.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Mmmhmm.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Leah Barron 

And, like with Inclusion Festival Online, everything was pre-recorded. And that’s how a lot of the festivals, you know, are presented, with all pre-recorded content. But in doing this most recent show, we kind of said like, let’s try it. Let’s go live and see how it goes. Because I think that there is a lot of possibility in, you know, being able to really make a livestream accessible in going forward for people because I, I don’t know, there’s something to being able to see it as it’s happening.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, you did it really well. Like my husband was watching because I was like, “Hey, I’m doing this thing, you should watch me in Pennsylvania,” and he was watching. And he’s like, this is one of the best livestreams I’ve ever seen. He said the quality was just amazing. And everything about it was so good.

 

Leah Barron 

We have to give props to the Production Manager from ArtsQuest, because that was that was all him and his team, Mike Liiro, they did a wonderful job. So we’re very grateful for all of that.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, if they want to do a training for other people. [laughs] That might be something that would be really useful, because it was so good.

 

Leah Barron 

Yeah, that’s a good idea. I will definitely put that in his in his head.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

So what do you guys have coming up next? It sounds like you always have a project that’s coming up. So what’s coming up next?

 

Leah Barron 

I actually just had a phone call today with the woman from ArtsQuest. We are hoping to move forward and have at least one but probably a couple more shows, you know, within this next year, next cycle, in partnership with them. You know, we felt really, really good about the venue and felt great, like really well supported. So yeah, it seems to make a lot of sense to be, you know, sharing responsibilities with regards to all this. So we don’t have anything official on the calendar yet. We haven’t announced anything. But we have some ideas.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, everyone should keep their July completely open. [laughs] Every day.

 

Amy Pinder 

Me too, I’ll cancel everything else.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

[laughs] Cancel everything. [laughs]

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

And how can like what if, you know, I’m just thinking about listeners who, like are listening to this, and they’re like God, you know, I never really thought about how much access I have as a fully able-bodied person and how many other people don’t have access to this kind of experience. And like, I want to learn more, I want to do more like what would you say to people that are kind of feeling that way right now?

 

Amy Pinder 

Well, you can check out our website, accessiblefestivals.org, and you can learn about what we do and how we help to make live music more accessible. We’ve done that in the past by working with large promoters. And our founder Austin Whitney has his story is that he was in a car crash that paralyzed him from the waist down. And he went to a music festival it was where he finally felt like happy again and hopeful. And so he was really instrumental in working with really large scale festivals, like Coachella, and getting accessibility programs in place. And he really made a phenomenal difference in what access means in the live music world for these big producers. So what we really hope to do next is to make more of a difference among the smaller, grassroots producers who would be really open to this idea and really want to bring accessible music to their communities, but don’t necessarily have the resources to do that. We want to work with those people. And we want to help them make their events more accessible. So if that’s a project that… if you have a project idea or something that you know might be a good fit for it for that goal, then reaching out to us is a great idea. And we’d would talk to anyone who wanted to learn more about this. I don’t know if it makes sense to plug for another nonprofit. But another thing that you can do is check out this nonprofit called Half Access. They review accessible music venues throughout the country. And it’s all user reviews, kind of like the Yelp of accessibility in the music world. And I think it’s really cool. We want to talk more to them about what they’re doing. They’re kind of on a hiatus right now it seems. But you can review and read reviews of how accessible or inaccessible most music venues are. And that’s called half access. Because it turns out, they’re mostly like, half accessible, like you can get in the door, but you can’t get to the bathroom kind of thing. So I think looking on that site, half access org, in addition to ours, accessiblefestivals.org would both be really eye-opening next steps.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, that’s great. And yeah, it’s like that awareness, I would imagine, you know, I’ll be looking around to be like, how accessible is this? It’s like, you have to have that awareness first. And then you begin to notice it, and then it begins to maybe even be important to you.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, I’m on the board of directors also for my yoga studio in Burlington, and we pride ourselves on being accessible. And then when we were like, really looking at it, we’re like, how accessible are we? And how can we be more so there, there are so many things that you don’t necessarily think of, and I’ve learned so much from the two of you, of like, what that means to make it accessible for everyone. And it’s like such important work, because everyone should have access to music. It’s the most amazing, powerful, incredible experience and medicine and you’re changing the world by making it accessible to every single person on this planet who wants to experience it.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, that’s really powerful.

 

Amy Pinder 

It is, it’s really powerful stuff. It’s like a, I didn’t say this, someone else said this, but it’s like a universal language. And that’s really true that I think about that all the time. And I see it at the shows that we create and just attend. And I see it in my clients on my caseload, like when I put on music, it’s everybody connects to it. It’s, it’s really amazing.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, it is. It’s that soul medicine that we all need. Well, anything else that you guys want to mention or feels important to talk about?

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

It’s okay, if there’s nothing because you did really good. [laughs]

 

Amy Pinder 

I don’t think so? I think we gave a nice, well-rounded picture of why we’re doing this, and what made us want to do this, and how you can learn more. And I really agree with what you said about awareness, that’s really the first step. And well, actually, now that I’m talking, sometimes people are really confused about what inclusion to us means or what an inclusion, why an Inclusion Festival should include people without disabilities has been a really confusing thing for us. And it’s, it’s kind of been hard to get the right messaging out there. Because what we want to do is create a space where people with and without disabilities, feel equally welcomed and share space together. Because when there’s diverse voices, and just you know, people with different worldviews all in one place, that it’s really good for everyone. So yeah, what we do is for everyone, it’s not just for people with disabilities. So I think that’s an important point. And we’re continually trying to get that message out in a way that it makes sense.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, right. It’s for people with all abilities, or from all abilities, right? I think that’s like your exact wording.

 

Amy Pinder 

Yes.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, that’s really helpful to highlight. And that is like ultimate inclusion. Anything else you want to add, Leah?

 

Leah Barron 

I don’t know. I think we hit a lot of the key points.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Oh, thank you guys so much for coming on. This has been such a pleasure to be here with you and have this conversation. And I’m certainly inspired by it. So I can’t wait to check more out and follow you guys. And I don’t know be involved in however I can.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

I love the two of you so much, and I’m so grateful that we are able to like have more people discover you and discover Inclusion Festival and Accessible Festivals and have more people be aware of making music more accessible to everyone because everyone who’s listening is a live music fan. And so now they’re more aware than they were before likely. And that’s really special and really great. And it’s because of you two, so thank you so much.

 

Amy Pinder 

Thank you.

 

Leah Barron 

Well, just very quickly, but the when we were in like the creation stage of Inclusion Festival, I was participating in one of Taraleigh’s programs “Rock Your Business,” I believe. So actually, Taraleigh, from the beginning, you’ve played a big part in this and how it’s all unfolded. So we’re really grateful, you know, for having you on board and that you know, you were on stage and did an amazing job at the last one and hopefully will be again, in the future.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Aww, well what an honor. I’m your biggest cheerleader and I’m so grateful to be a part of anything that you do and to help more people find out about what you both do.

 

Amy Pinder 

Thanks for creating this podcast and for all that you both do.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yay.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

All right. Well, I guess we’ll have to say goodbye to you guys,

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

I don’t wanna.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor  4

I can tell, we don’t want to say goodbye. All right, we’ll be right back.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Welcome back, everyone, what a lovely conversation that was, I learned so much. And I’m inspired a lot. And I’m looking forward to festivals even more now, what about you?

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Absolutely, yes. And I am also noticing that I am on a steep learning curve when it comes to accessibility at festivals and access, you know, at, at venues and other live music events. So I’m excited about just gaining more awareness and, and really noticing it while I’m out and about and hopefully, being able to partner in doing something about it, because I think this is a really, really, really important cause.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, like becoming aware of it. Now that you’ve all listened to this podcast, you’re all aware of it. And now that you, you know, you can look around and notice things which I’ll talk about more in a little bit. But you can also figure out ways that you can take action and, and speak up and make it better for everybody. So everyone has the same access.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, and even within yourself, you know, we mentioned this a little bit in the beginning, before the interview, but so often we think about people with disabilities, physical disabilities, or deaf, or blindness, needing special access, but we don’t often consider, like sensory disabilities as a cause for needing special access. So, you know, maybe this is an opportunity too, to just notice within yourself, like, do you feel overridden or like, overwhelmed by all of the things that are happening at a festival or even at a show and, you know, what might be a way within yourself that you could help yourself whether hopefully, you were wearing earplugs, because that is like, the really, the big kind of negative side effect of live music is hearing loss, but it can be prevented. So it’s important to wear earplugs, but whether you’re doing that or, you know, standing in a place in the venue so that it’s not as overwhelming, or just notice, like, how do you accommodate yourself? And maybe in a larger scheme, what could be done to help other people that might not have that awareness that you are right now?

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah. So I thought that for the [instrumental music] “Did you know?”, I could talk a little bit about some of the statistics. So since this is a new topic for myself, and something that we haven’t talked about on this podcast before, I wanted to see if I could find some statistics on accessibility. And what… the best thing that I could find was a state of access report from 2018 that came actually, out of the UK. And what they did is they polled over about 350 people. And they identified as deaf or disabled. The key findings from this report were that four out of five people had experienced problems booking access. So what that means, and I thought this was really interesting, too, and something that I didn’t really think about is that before a person who does need special access to a festival or to a show, they want to know that they’re going to be able to have that access, granted, because they’re not just going to show up, like I might show up, you know, without a ticket or without knowing, you know, having a plan just knowing that I want to be at that show and having trust and faith that everything is going to work out, they’re not going to do that, they’re not even going to get themselves to the venue if they are not going to be able to get into the door of the venue or if they’re not going to be able to be comfortable while they’re there. So knowing that they can have access while they’re there, in advance, is really important. But four out of five people experienced problems in booking this access. 79% had been put off buying tickets for a gig due to difficulty booking access, 73% of people had felt discriminated against when trying to book access. And 1 in 10 have considered taking legal action because of this. So this obviously is a problem. And again, this was about 350 people that were polled just within this report. But also, you know, what it showed me is that what Amy and Leah have done with their Inclusion Festival is that they have identified that this is a problem knowing having access but even knowing that access is going to be available before they get there, and so they’ve created this festival where it is inclusive to all, and any bodied person, whether they have some kind of sensory disorder or a physical disability or are completely able bodied and they want to go and have fun there too, anybody can attend and feel that they are going to be accommodated for. Yeah, that is why Inclusion Festival and Accessible Festivals are so amazing. And those statistics are just so sad to me. Because a lot of times it’s not even about just being comfortable, it’s having basic needs met, like are you able to go to the bathroom, and things like that. And see, that’s why you can’t just show up, you have to know that I’m going to be able to go to the bathroom when I’m at a show. And that should that should happen everywhere. And I’m so grateful that Accessible Festivals and Inclusion Festival and there’s people like Amy and Leah out there that are making such a difference in the world. So this is a thing that becomes normal and not something that people have to call and figure out it just should be. That’s right. So for my section

 

Computer Voice 

Daily Jam.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

if you are an able bodied person, I want you to notice when you go to the grocery store, the next time you’re able to go to a show, when you’re going to the bank, when you’re just running your every day, errands that you run or if you are bringing your kids to school, I just want you to really notice what the accessibility is like in all of those places and just become aware and try to think about what it would be like if you weren’t able to and what that is like, and then I want you to think about how can I make this situation better for those people and the world. And so maybe it’s speaking up to the place where you’re at and be like, “Hey, this could be better.” So just thinking of ways that you can make the things that you easily do every day more accessible to all so becoming aware of it and seeing if there’s any actions you can take to make it better.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, because we can all do our parts. And we don’t all have to create amazing festivals like Amy and Leah have. But there are little ways that we can use our awareness to make a difference.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yes, definitely.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yay. Yeah. Well, this was so insightful. I hope that we get to continue this conversation. And I’m certainly looking forward to learning more and continuing my growth curve. And this…yeah, it’s so interesting to just notice that like something that I take for granted is not possible for a lot of other people.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah. And you do your part to make the world a better place. And I would love to hear what it is about what you’re up to right now.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Hmm. Well, thanks, Taraleigh. That is one of my intentions in life. So thanks for asking. Yeah, so I am still doing the Shine Collective, it’s really awesome. We just had a new group of members that came in, I do only open membership twice a year. So it won’t happen again until the fall. But if you want to learn more about me, you can go to my website, which is right now embodiedgroove.com. I’d love it if you signed up for my newsletter. I will tell you all about all of the amazing things that I have going on. And I also send out a lot of free like meditations or just tips of things as to, you know, how to ride emotions, or how to be more mindful, and things like that. So I’d love for you to sign up for that. You can also follow me at Dr. Leah Taylor on Facebook, or Dr. Leah Taylor on Instagram. And I’d love to be connected.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yes, take out your phone and follow Leah and all the places right now. And so what I’m up to is I work with people that have ADHD and have a trillion ideas running through their head. And my superpower is to help people to take all of those trillion and billions and quadrillions ideas, I think I made up some words and figure out a way to put them into one amazing offer that utilizes many of your ideas and passions and so you can make money doing what you love and you have fun and you’ll never ever get bored because your business will always be exciting and it will help you feel free. And so if that is something that sounds interesting to you, I would love it if you head over to my Instagram it’s @rockinglife__ with two underscores since you have your phone out already, you can follow me right now. And you can send you can DM me the word “magic” and I will talk with you all about the program and see if I can even offer you a free session if that’s something you’re into to see how, if any of your trillion ideas are viable moneymakers, so I’d love to talk to you. You can also check out my website. It’s rockinglife.com.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah. So take Taraleigh up on that free session. That’s awesome and amazing. Yeah, so you can also find us, Groove Therapy, @GrooveTherapyPodcast on Instagram, you can find our Facebook group at Groove Therapy Podcast Community. And I will tell you, there are some videos that are going down there that are being released there that are not making it to the podcast episode. So if you want to get in the know about some special things, then come and join our community. And also, please make sure to follow us on all of the places that you follow your podcasts so that you can know when a new episode is released. And also, you know, the more people that are following us helps more people find out about us. If this is a topic that is a passion of yours, which I think that it probably is, if you’ve listened this far, then help other people find out about it.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yes. And leave us a review too, because we like it. Whenever you leave a review Leah and I do a happy dance. So if you want us to do a happy dance [laughs] Maybe we’ll video ourselves do reading the reviews and doing a happy dance for the next review that is a positive review. [laughs] We will…

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, don’t make us cry.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yes, we will read it and make a video of us dancing it and dancing to it and then we’ll post it on our social media places.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yes, we will do that.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

I hope that’s okay with you, because I didn’t ask, I kind of just volunteered your dancing skills.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yeah, well, luckily, we have. We have around the same interest and I’m totally fine. I love to dance. And obviously I’m okay with people watching me dance. I’ve been teaching Embodied Groove Online for over a year now.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Oh, and I heard that… doesn’t um, weed make dancing more fun or what?

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Weed makes music more fun. Yeah, so you guys have heard about “How to Do the Pot Podcast,” which we’ve been talking about. We’re kind of, you know, cross-promo’ing with them. And so they have a special episode that just got released on April 27. called “Why Weed Makes Music More Fun.” So that’s Episode 61. on “How to Do the Pot.” And if that is of interest to you, then go check out that podcast and specifically that episode.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Awesome. All right. I don’t know. I think we might be complete. Are you complete?

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

I’m feeling complete.

 

Taraleigh Weathers 

Yeah, so we’re part of the Osiris Podcast Network. And we’re so grateful for each and every one of you for listening to us and supporting us and loving us up and we hope you have the most amazing day ever.

 

Dr. Leah Taylor 

Yes, we do. Goodbye.

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