• Meet Tom Doughty, Lap Slide Guitarist

    Tom Doughty is an accomplished lap slide guitarist, singer and songwriter. He has four critically acclaimed albums to his name, seamlessly blending pop, jazz, folk, and world music influences.

    Tom began playing as a child and was largely self-taught, playing by ear and following other guitar players with early influences including Renbourn and Jansch, Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, Big Bill Broonzy and Led Zeppelin.

    Tom Doughty hitching in India

    In 1974, Tom was injured in a road traffic accident which left him paralysed from the chest downwards and with impairments that also affected his fingers and prevented him from playing music. He recalls the frustration of creating music in his head but not being able to hear it in the air. In his own words “I was alive and life went on. An experience like being reborn, I commenced the rest of my life as a disabled person and started to get on with it.”.

    Once he was home from the hospital, his family adapted a guitar for him to play on his knee and he improvised a slide on his finger and began to practice. In 1999, he took the plunge into full-time musicianship taking early retirement from a social work job.

    If I can do it, anyone can do it.

    Since then, with persistence and hard work Tom has developed his own truly unique way of approaching and playing his instrument, he’s written and released four albums, toured nationally and internationally and teaches lap slide teacher.

    Commencing early in 2019, Tom will be undertaking a UK wide tour to each of the 12 Spinal Injuries Centres at London, Aylesbury, Salisbury, Cardiff, Oswestry, Southport, Sheffield, Wakefield, Middlesborough, Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast. The tour is funded primarily through the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and will be in partnership with Korg UK, The British Paraorchestra, Creative United (Take it away) and Music For All.

    “My disability forces me to be a more creative and resourceful musician. I think out of the box and, if anything, my disability strengthens my musicianship. When I play the guitar well, the experience feels emotional, sensual, technical, controlled yet spontaneous”.

    Between February and September 2019, Tom will spend a day at each centre bringing guitars and equipment for up to 10 participants to teach. There will also be a local concert which could be public or private depending upon the wishes of each hospital. A second guitar and equipment will be donated to each centre, and Tom has recorded several instructional videos which will be permanently accessible through the internet.

    This initiative will be the second such tour as Tom carried out something similar in 2012 which was funded by Arts Council England.

    Additional thanks
    With thanks to Alan White and the information provided in his interview with Tom.

    An old, white, masculine person with short, grey hair and wearing a grey jacket whos is playing an electric guitar.

    How accessible is music making for disabled people, and in particular disabled children?

    In September 2018, Creative United, in partnership with OHMIDrake MusicOpen Up Music and Youth Music, launched a major research project. The aim of the research was to capture a detailed, national picture of the experiences of disabled people regarding music making, and get a sense of the experiences and participation levels of disabled children and adults.

    No data of this nature previously existed, despite the fact that there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK –  that’s 8% of children, 19% of working age adults and 45% of pension age adults.

    Click here to see our Make Some Noise research key findings.