What is ‘Cafemnee’? (Pronounced Ka’ fem’ nee)
Over the years I have noticed there are not many female instrumentalists in groups and bands although there are many vocalists. I have also observed that many girls learn instruments but very few continue into their adult life. There are many female singers but it seems to me that it is difficult to point to an equal number of female instrumentalists making great strides in music.
I also wondered if hurdles similar to those I have encountered – mental, emotional, social, musical hurdles – are reasons why some women do not excel or choose to go away from music. I spent some time locating and speaking to female musicians. There were some women who no longer play instruments or sing. The reasons for stopping included: raising a family, disappointments, lack of support or encouragement, developing interests in other areas outside of music. Those who continue to play be it as a hobby, part-time or full-time have similar hurdles but choose to continue playing in whatever way they can, in the hope of being taken seriously and making it as musicians. Some lack confidence in their musical ability and those who are making strides do so by figuring out the path, as they go it alone. I should add that I think it takes a particular type of determination to be the only female instrumentalist in a band.
I set up Cafemnee because I want to see more successful female musicians. I would like to see women achieving the goals they have for their own musicianship. Cafemnee is a space for female musicians, of various levels, to come together in an atmosphere of collegiality where the combination of experience, expertise and acceptance sponsor a revitalising of self belief, openness to ask niggling questions, and fuel-up for their onward musical journey.
Cafemnee started in 2014 and the meetings occur twice a year. I should say that the women are requesting more frequent meetings so watch this space!
What do the sessions include?
- ‘Open forum’, discussing relevant issues pertaining to being a female musician such as ‘Should I play it like a man?’ or ‘How to bring my ‘A’ Game’.
- ‘Masterclass Tips’ a bite size session to aid understanding on a particular aspects of music such as ‘Articulation’ and what should be in my ‘Improvisation Toolkit’.
- ‘Jam session’, to play as a band and create music, try out own ideas or tips gained in the session.
- ‘Vocal Masterclass’ newly added in 2016, singing tips for Singers
- ‘Networking’, a time to build new relationships, share ideas and contact details.
- ‘Reflection’, Cafemnee is a Christian based organisation and a time of prayer or reflection is included for those who would like the opportunity to do so. Those who are not Christians are under no obligation to participate in prayer.
Cafemnee also caught the eye of BBC1 Songs of Praise. You can watch the episode here.
Here are some of the comments from previous participants:
“I did my Grade 8 Classical Piano many years ago. I played in church but as I couldn’t understand the ways the guys speak and was put down by some of their comments I stopped playing. When I returned home after the Cafemnee meeting I was so inspired by what I had learnt. I removed all the junk that had covered my piano for years, dusted it off and just played!”
“I struggled to improvise in my Band. I just hated it when I was asked to solo. What do I do? How do I find the key? but I’ve learnt how to tackle it today. It was also good to have a go in the Jam session and now I feel more confident”
“I have so many songs to learn in a week that when I sit down to practise I don’t know where to start. I end up trying to do it all in one sitting and am not successful but now I realise I don’t have to do that. Having heard a different way of approaching practises, I now know how to restructure my practise sessions so I can achieve more in the time I have”
“It was good to hear I was not alone in those hinderances but at least now I know what to do about them”.
Reaching hobbyists and performing musicians, Cafemnee empowers female instrumentalists and singers on their musical journey. Cafemnee specialises in providing networking events where training, support and musical expression can be nurtured in a welcoming non-threatening environment. Cafemnee is a Christian based organisation.