I first discovered singing and playing guitar as an extremely shy and unconfident teenager. I would sit in my room and teach myself how to play the folk and country songs I found in my parents' music books. John Denver, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Cat Stevens provided a window into another world. Then I began writing my own songs. This opened up my inner world in the most transformational and profound way. I had found my voice...physically and psychologically. I had a method of expressing myself; initially through writing, and later through performing my songs on stage.
This early personal experience of music is what ultimately lead me down the beautiful path of community music and into facilitating participatory group music-making for connection and health and wellbeing.
After 10 years of writing, recording and performing my music, alongside working in the corporate world of advertising & marketing - I found myself looking for meaningful ways to use my music to connect with and help other people. I discovered the renowned Music Workshop Leading Course at Goldsmiths University of London. Here I studied for two years alongside other like-minded musicians. We learnt about group dynamics, creative community music session planning, delivery and evaluation, music theory, music history and the all-important art of improvisation.
I have facilitated participatory group music-making in a variety of settings, including early years, community adult choirs and residential homes with adults with learning difficulties.
The majority of my work has been with older people both in the community and in care homes, having delivered regular music-making sessions in over 30 cares homes throughout East and West Sussex since 2013. I have worked extensively with people living with dementia both in the early and later stages of the illness, using music as a tool for connection and reminiscence.
In April of 2014, I stepped into a new role which took me behind the scenes of a community music organisation. I became Co-Director of Open Strings Music CIC, an inspiring organisation that run participatory music projects as a tool for connection and wellbeing within the community and in a variety of residential settings. I held this position until March 2017, and during this time I was also a regular sessional worker for the organisation, facilitating music making with people with dementia and adults with a learning disability.
Since early 2016 I have also been working as a 'Music for well-being practitioner' in healthcare settings as part of the Wishing Well program. This role has taken me to acute dementia wards, working alongside the Occupational Therapy team to deliver participatory group music-making opportunities for patients, as well as bedside music-making for patients and their families.