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  • Support visit in Hyderabad

    It is great to be back with the teachers at Patashala and ARMS centers in Hyderabad, India. 

    It has been around 7 months since Alastair and I completed a 5 week Music as Therapy International (MasT) training project for 9 teachers here. It is so inspiring to witness that both the organization has done a great job sustaining the music as therapy sessions at their respective locations. They have been using the musical activities in the MasT frame work and the children have been benefiting significantly.

    At Patashala one boy who is a slow learner used be very shy, hesitant, and fearful in the class room. He used to sit at the last bench and would not communicate much with anyone. Teachers shared that he has changed so much. He is more open, confident, communicative and participating in class work. His focus and involvement in class activities have been increased. He is talking more with friends and teachers and now he has started sitting on the front bench as well. 

    At ARMS it was so heartening to know about these two Autistic boys who never used to sit in the sessions for more than 2-5 minutes and they used to go out, be distracted and not participate in the music sessions. They would disturb other children and dominate the group process.  Now they are not only sitting in the session for the whole 30 minutes but they are playing, singing and taking part in the activities just like any other member of the group. This change in their ability to function in a group with other children has been a significant step and teachers shared it with great enthusiasm and appreciation for MasT sessions.

    Hearing these stories, connecting with the teachers and noticing their enthusiasm, keenness and commitment for the Music as therapy process making me once again realize and reaffirm the power and potential of music in human wellbeing.

    Thank you all for your support, wishes and positive intentions in making all of this possible. Both of the organisation’s have repeatedly sent their big thanks and appreciation for everything the MasT team has done for them.  

    Music continues to work :-)

    Somesh Purey

  • Tubakunde Evaluation visit - end of week one

    Muraho from Rwanda! Una and I have been here just a week and we've already travelled more than 300km and have visited five different day centres for child and young people with learning and physical disabilities across Rwanda. For both of us, it is out first visit to the 'land of a thousand hills'. As well as visiting the centres we've also had the chance to sample some of the local cuisine, have learnt a handful of key phrases in Kinyarwandan and have got a feel for the distinctive Rwandan landscape - the rolling hills, the glistening lakes, the deep red earth and abundant green banana trees...

    Let me just give some context to our visit. In October last year, six members of the Tubakunde network, a Rwandan organisation working with care settings for children and adults with disabilities, travelled to Cyangugu in the south west of the country to take part in a two-day training programme led by two local partners from this area. This was a pilot project, an opportunity for the local partners to share the music as therapy skills they have developed since taking part in the very first six-week project in Rwanda in 2010, led by music therapists Nicky Haire and Caroline Anderson.

    In the two centres to take part in the original training project six years ago, music as therapy programmes are now well-established and the local partners have developed into highly skilled therapeutic music practitioners. For the members attending the two-day training in October, this was potentially their very first encounter with music as therapy techniques. The hope was that these members would each return to their different settings equipped with the basic skills to begin running their own therapeutic music sessions.

    We are half way through the two weeks we are spending in Rwanda during which will be visiting each of the six centres that participated in the training last year. We want to see how the staff members have been getting on since October, indeed whether they have been able to deliver music as therapy sessions in their individuals settings, and aim to identify any areas for further support and training. We will also be evaluating the overall impact and effectiveness of the two-day training model. Lots to do in only two weeks!

    We've already been lucky enough to travel the full breadth of the country (Rwanda is only about the size of Wales but still a lot of travel in only a few days!). We arrived in Kigali, the capital, on Sunday afternoon and made our first visit to a centre in Ngoma, the Eastern province of Rwanda, on Monday. On Tuesday we visited two centres in the Kigali area and on Wednesday morning continued on to a centre in Muhanga, around 50km west of Kigali. The main roads in Rwanda are pretty good but as you travel further out they become increasingly bumpy; when we arrived at the centre in Komera, situated in the far west of the country, on Wednesday afternoon, we were asked "Did you enjoy your African massage?"!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We've really appreciated the really warm welcome we have received in all of the five centres we've visited so far. In some, we've even been greeted by a traditional Rwandan song and drumming, quite a treat! We are impressed that some of the centres already have music as therapy sessions embedded in their timetables and that some of the staff members are already showing their potential as therapeutic music practitioners, which is exciting to see. We've also had some useful discussions about what further support they'd ideally like.

    We're now in Kamembe, in the south west of Rwanda, the district where the training took place last year. Kamembe is situated on the edge of the picturesque lake Kivu, the largest of Rwanda's 23 lakes. It is peaceful and beautiful here and we are enjoying having a weekend to recuperate, to catch up on work and to generally reflect on our experiences from our fascinating and full first week here.

    At the beginning of next week we are going to visit both Ngwino Nawe and Urugwiro, the two centres where the local partners who delivered the training last year are based. We hope to find out more about how the experience was for them. We will also visit the sixth and final centre that took part in the two-day training before returning to Kigali towards the end of the week.

    Isabel and Una 

  • BAMT Conference 2016

    Alexia recently attended an inspiring weekend at the British Association for Music Therapy’s Conference in Glasgow.  Together with Cathy Rowland, Alexia ran a workshop to encourage music therapists to share their skills just as we do on all our projects.  But it was exciting to hear from other independent music therapists who are doing this in growing numbers.  In fact, the winner of the Poster Display competition was Clare Gillespie, who presented the skill-sharing project she had undertaken with carers of adults with learning disabilities in Scotland.  It was a brilliant piece of work and we hope to stay in touch and compare notes on skill-sharing experiences in the UK.

  • Celebrating 20 years

    This year has been extraordinary for me, personally: It marks the twentieth anniversary of our pilot project in Romania.  It saw us deliver more projects (10) to more countries than ever before (Romania, England, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Georgia and India) and, unsurprisingly, saw us making some of the benefits of music therapy to more children and adults worldwide than I would ever have dreamt of all those years ago.  

    We have also made the time to stop and take stock.  We've developed a 3-year plan, which requires us to develop an accompanying fundraising strategy. To achieve this we had our first foray into the world of Major Donors and we've been so heartened by the willingness of some key loyal supporters who have stepped forward as Ambassadors for the charity to help us attract major donors and corporate partners.  After all that is what we will need if we are to be able to move from planning and undertaking our activities year by year to being an organisation that is robust enough to plan further ahead.  And we have just appointed our first dedicated fundraiser, who will be joining the team just as soon as we can finalise all the details of his appointment.

    I have been moved on many occasions which have reminded me how far we have come.  It's incredible.  The charity grew out of such a small idea held by a naive teenager:  I couldn't walk away from the children and friends I made when I first volunteered in a Romanian orphanage.  But I could see a teenage volunteer wasn't the solution to helping Romania recover its care system.  Every step of the way I have been joined by passionate music therapists, open and dedicated Local Partners, children and adults excited to show themselves to us in their music, and organisations and agencies responsible for improving the opportunities these people have to achieving their potential.  So whilst at first it was a journey I was taking on my own, there is now a significant body of people walking alongside me, leading me, pushing me from behind, in the name of Music as Therapy International.

    Our team is now working to decide where this journey will go next, informed by the ideas and wisdom of everyone who has participated in our projects this year and in the past.  We've done so much this year, we haven't left time or resources for our usual Christmas update and postal mailing.  But that is truly a good sign - in terms of how we have chanelled our resources into our projects, rather than shiney brochures!  Please bear with us as we overhaul our website at the start of 2016, and plan our activities for the next twelve months and beyond.  Trust that we are busy making sure that music therapy is more widely available to people whose lives it can be truly transform.  And we will be back in touch (with a shiney brouchure I'm sure) as soon as we can.  In the meantime you can view the 2014 Annual Report and Accounts which we have submitted to the Charity Commission by following the links here.

    Alexia Quin, Founder and Director

     

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