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Music Therapy – Why I do what I do within Diversiti UK

When I had interview to Music Therapy PGDip course, I was asked ad hoc to sing. I wasn’t expecting this. I panicked! I had practiced my piano piece and read lots to prepare for this interview/audition. I thought, “what will I sing?”. In that moment, with the nerves and the anticipation in the room, I knew I had to sing The Song I knew backwards and inside out. I only sang a few lines of it before they motioned me to stop. It was the song that I silently sang to myself as a 7-year-old child. I know now that it was like a comfort blanket for me back then.

During playtimes at primary and secondary school I often stood alone, watching the others play. I sang The Song to myself over and over until the bell rang to go inside. It passed the time. I knew all the words and it gave me great satisfaction to get through it all. Some of the words I sang, as children do, were wrong, I know that now. But that doesn’t matter.

I was an extremely quiet child. Too quiet for some. I found using words difficult when I wasn’t at home with my loving family. So, I just kept quiet.

Then I started piano lessons. I did well. I was very good at it even though I do say so myself. But somehow this did not fit with the culture I was living with. Certainly, it fitted in with my family. My Papa played the cornet in the miners’ band. My mum and dad played piano and guitar. Music was all around me. And I had “a good ear”. But it didn’t go down too well with my peers. I became the “snob” with the “scabby face”. You see, I had violent eczema. Yes, everywhere, and on my face. The more they teased, the more I scratched. I was let’s say ‘different’ to the other children.

Playing the piano was at times the only way I could externalise some difficulties I had. I loved it and lived for it. It gave me a voice. The better I became, the more assertive ‘my voice’ became.

And yes, later I was the child walking around wired to my Walkman. I was listening to ‘The Magic of Richard Clayderman’. I also knew this old 70s tape of my Mum’s inside out. It did something to me. I believe we should never be ashamed of what music we choose to listen to. This music in this tape mirrored and matched my aching for peer company and acceptance.

When I was 12, I read that there are people called music therapists. I wanted to be one. Why? Because I know first-hand how using music can help. I wanted to help others, yes, probably like me, who have had a difficult time expressing themselves, being heard, and being accepted. Perhaps I wanted to help that little girl standing silently singing That Song?

I have now been a Music Therapist for over 16 years. Music has been so important to me in the past and in the present; The Song, the Richard Clayderman. It ‘helped me through’ some negative times. This music mirrored what I was feeling inside and somehow brought it to the fore and helped me to keep going.

I know that this is all very sad and negative, but I empathise with those I work with. Some have experienced school and workplace bullying, some feel that they do not fit in to society, some just need that expression which music therapy can offer, within a safe and non-judgemental space.

Why am I telling you all of this? Partly because I want my voice to be heard. And partly because I agreed to do a blog for Diversiti UK. I thought, “Yes, I can do a blog”. I have never done a blog before, but I read Steve’s blog and thought “I can do that too”.

I am passionate about helping people who find words difficult to use. I empathise with how frustrating and self-destructive this can be. This may be due to illness, disability, mental or physical trauma.

Diversiti has many good values in its core. Music Therapy is quite new to Diversiti UK. I believe music therapy ‘fits in’ with the ethos by providing psychological therapy for those who perhaps cannot access talking therapies due to a variety of reasons.

The Song: yes, I won’t tell you what it is, that’s too personal. But it has stayed with me and always will.