“We have seen a big transformation in the communication skills and personal demeanour of some of our service users with severe brain injuries. It has been humbling to see the joy and tears of happiness when a person with limited communication skills can sing a song, in some cases that they have written, expressing how they feel. Truly life changing."
Donna O'Reilly, Assistant Manager at Daniel Yorath House, on the impact of music therapy on service users.
Services across the Trust are regularly filled with the sound of music, and over the last month, service users have offered our social media followers an insight into all things musical; from music therapy sessions to choir practices to piano recitals. The opportunity to make some noise about music around the Trust (pun intended!) is thanks to this year’s theme for the annual Disability History Month – Disability and Music.
Music can create an opportunity for connection, creativity and self-expression. Although each service user is unique and has a different experience with music, it has been evident that throughout The Disabilities Trust’s autism, physical disabilities and Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) services, music has brought happiness to many service users.
Read on for some of the month’s highlights or watch our highlights video.
Music therapy aims to facilitate wellbeing and supports people to explore their potential and connect with the world around them. For those with a brain injury, music therapy can ease rehabilitation, offer them a way to be expressive and help with motivation, communication and anxiety.
Each week the service users at Tŷ Aberdafen are visited by Lucie, a music therapist from Nordoff Robbins, who provides both 1:1 and group sessions. Read an account of the group music therapy by Lucie here.
Lucie is able to support individual rehabilitation goals in her 1:1 sessions with service users. One service user Lucie works with is John. John sustained a traumatic brain injury eleven years ago, and as a result has non-functional use of his right limbs and uses a wheelchair. He also has difficulty communicating and finding the right words, so uses facial expressions and gestures to help him communicate.
John is extremely motivated in his rehabilitation activities, and particularly enjoys his music therapy sessions. Singing with Lucie has helped John with his speech, and he recently wrote a song with her based on one of the phrases he likes to use, “I’ll be back”. Watch John and Lucie in the video.
Benedict is a talented musician who lives in one of The Disabilities Trust’s community houses for people with autism. He loves music and takes lessons in both piano and violin, and recently played in a recital at a nearby care home.
Music brings Benedict much joy. He said “I enjoy music all the time and I like sight reading any piece of music. I like playing for pleasure, including duets with my piano and violin teachers."
Watch Benedict playing a piece on the piano in the video above.
Service users at Daniel Yorath House also enjoy weekly music therapy sessions provided by Nordoff Robbins, and one of the individuals who benefits from these sessions is Alicja*.
Alicja began music therapy as part of her rehabilitation for support around her memory, movement and language after sustaining a brain injury. Luke, her music therapist, noticed in her first sessions that she become distracted and that she had only a range of a few tones of voice, but has since seen her progress in connection, exploration of voice and experience of self. Read Alicja’s story here and listen to her explore her voice in the video above.
Disability History Month is an annual unofficial observance of the history of the disability rights movement. The month runs from 22nd November to 22nd December and in the UK a different theme is the focus each year.
If you would like to make a donation towards music therapy find out more here.