Music therapy improves rehabilitation

22 August 2017 
Glenside has offered a Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy student, Gillian Farkas-Blake, a one year placement to further her studies and to support our service users.
Gillian comes to the Glenside Salisbury site one day per week and spends time with our service users to evaluate and offer music therapy, either on a 1:2:1 basis or as a group.

Gillian has a personal interest in music, having previously achieved a distinction at Grade 8 in three instruments and a performer’s diploma. Initially, she gained a Degree in Psychology and first considered a career change thirteen years ago but only recently started the two year Nordoff Robbins Masters in Music Therapy degree.

Gillian enjoys using music to bring about positive effects to individuals, especially those who have lost their verbal communication skills. She believes that everyone has a form of musicality within them, regardless of whether they have ever been taught to play an instrument and music helps them to express themselves and connect with others.

Following an acquired brain injury, individuals may have problems with movement, language, sensation, thinking or emotion. Although clinical evidence is limited, it is widely accepted that music therapy may have beneficial effects on a person’s rehabilitation journey, post acquired brain injury.

There are a range of music therapy interventions that can help in different ways. For example, introducing rhythm can help with gait and walking, singing can help speaking or voice quality and listening to and creating music can help with mood and a general sense of well-being. There are also tremendous psychosocial benefits of playing music with another person or persons. All these aspects can lead to an improved quality of life.

Since being at Glenside, Gillian has worked with a number of patients at varying stages of their rehabilitation. This work can include singing together, playing tuned and untuned percussion instruments, piano, guitar and ukelele, the choice of which being largely dependent on the patient’s pathology. A session can vary in length, usually between ten and thirty minutes, and will typically involve saying hello in a musical way and some form of improvisation. It can be useful to know what genre of music a person enjoys as this can help Gillian “meet” the patient musically when they improvise together, but this is not always necessary.

Gillian says “Even when you have a plan, you have to be prepared to throw it out of the window because you never know what is going to happen in a session. That’s what I love about music therapy: no two sessions are ever the same!”

Nordoff Robbins is the largest independent music therapy charity in the UK, dedicated to changing the lives of vulnerable and isolated people. For more information, please go to www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk.