The heart of any prevalent issue or cause is often lost behind dry stats and dire infographics. Avoiding this is the idea behind the three-way club collaboration Duets for Diabetes at The Spoke on Nov. 17. Western University’s Guitar Club, the Western Piano Society and the Western Diabetes Association are planning a two-hour event filled with performances and messages of diabetes awareness.
Music has long been used as a means for advocacy — a way to amplify the conversation around issues that often go overlooked, from the 1985 Live Aid concert to the more recent We Are The World 25 for Haiti. A strong voice and a guitar can do more than a pamphlet full of statistics and warnings to get people off their seats and thinking about the world around them.
Mike Williams, the Guitar Club’s president and third-year management and organizational studies and psychology student, says the idea came when the Guitar Club shared a booth with the WDA during Clubs Week. The Piano Society reached out to them later and wanted in.
Williams says this intersection of advocacy and music is part of the Guitar Club’s vision for this year.
“We want a more wholesome purpose to our events,” Williams says. “We’re planning a different coffee house event every month. Last month was Alzheimer’s focused.”
This more holistic approach extends outside of the Western bubble as well. Jessie Orchin, the director of communications of the Guitar Club and second-year international relations student, says they’ve been reaching out to the London community to perform at smaller locations, like long-term care facilities. They have also reached out to other organizations on campus, like UNICEF at Western and Free the Children Western, to host similar events.
Orchin said the club also wants to give novice performers the chance to perform at small venues.
While the name “Duets for Diabetes” was chosen more for the alliteration, the performances will include musical acts as well as some vocal showcases. The majority of the songs will be covers, with a few originals sprinkled in.
For James Leung, a fourth-year medical science student and WDA president, this blend of community and concert can do a lot for awareness.
“I think it's kind of difficult for us to only just host a booth filled with information,” says Leung. “An event like this allows us to reach a larger audience we might not normally.”
Tuesday, Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day, so while the WDA will actually have a booth set up in the University Community Centre that day, the main outreach will be at The Spoke on Friday with the club as MCs for the night.
Everyone involved agrees that the Duets for Diabetes' one-two punch of singing and playing only makes the education aspect all the more palatable and effective.
Duets for Diabetes takes place at The Spoke on Friday, Nov. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free, but there will be a WDA donation box available.