Making her mark with music

Published 12:00pm 7 April 2023

Making her mark with music
Words by Moreton Daily

Extra-sensitive hearing and an autism diagnosis are behind the inspiring music of Narangba’s JayBird Byrne, who lets her ‘Frankenstat’ electric guitar do the talking when words are hard to find.

At the tender age of 12, JayBird is blowing the minds of seasoned musicians with her amazing guitar skills.

JayBird lives with autism and ADHD and has been playing the guitar since she was eight.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant puts her amazing musical ability down to her disability.

|“I believe it’s my autism that gives me the ability to play the guitar,” JayBird says.|

“My guitar is like a translator of sorts. I find it hard to express myself through normal language.”

Team of supporters

JayBird has a rare type of autism known as Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), which results in extreme resistance to or avoidance of the expectations of daily life.

Her NDIS support includes fortnightly psychology appointments to manage her anxiety, regulate emotions and to develop social skills.

She also sees an occupational therapist each month to help her with sensory issues and personal care.

JayBird was enrolled in mainstream education for three years, before becoming a distance education student until last year.

This year, mum Samantha has been home-schooling JayBird in Year 8 subjects. She also lives with dad, Dominic, and her 2 dogs, Bosco and Eddie.

“JayBird has extra-sensitive hearing, which made school hard, and going out in general,” Samantha explains.

|“But it is this extra-sensitive hearing that makes playing music so easy.”|

EP on the way

Making her mark with music

When she’s not studying, she’s playing “Frankie”, an Eddie Van Halen signature series guitar dubbed the “Frankenstrat”, which was designed to be played loud and fast.

“I didn’t just get it because it was an Eddie Van Halen guitar,” JayBird says.

“I love Eddie, but I want to make the sound my own. It just connected with me.”

“It’s not my first guitar. I’ve got a Les Paul and a few others, and I’m planning to get a Charvel in the future.”

With an EP called Dog Tales on the way, JayBird practices three hours a day and takes weekly lessons from Brisbane guitar teacher Simon Gardner.

“Jaybird is such an intelligent, gracious and talented young person,” Simon says.

“Her playing technique continues to evolve at such a rapid rate, it would put many players her senior to shame.

“I always look forward to our sessions together and to see and hear the progress in her song writing each week.”

Hear JayBird play

NDIS provider Clontarf-based Team Musicare, which offers musical programs for people with a disability, took on JayBird as a client last year.

Owner and seasoned musician Dan Nebe says he was immediately impressed.

“Prodigy is probably the word that comes to mind,” he says.

“JayBird’s already written, recorded and co-produced her own song (Convergence). Her dedication to her craft is phenomenal.”

JayBird has a message for both neurodiverse and neurotypical people.

“It can be hard, but always remember there’s a silver lining,” she says.

|“There will be something that will spark your interest and that’s going to be your moment to shine.|

“Some people say autism is like a superpower. I do not believe autism is a superpower or a disability.

“People with autism are a bit like guitar amps.

“They’re going to be wired differently. They will have different abilities and disabilities but, at the end of the day, they’re all still amps. We’re all still humans.”

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