Our natural and inherent responses to music develop from the earliest stages of life. Even whilst still in the womb, the elements of music surround us; from the rhythm and pulse of our mothers heartbeat to the melody and musical flow of the voices we hear, and even the structure and cadence of our bodily movements and processes. As our lives progress, music is often credited with expressing the inexpressible, heightening moments of celebration and sorrow, affirming our relationships, our identities and our everyday practices.
Music therapy strives to harness these unique powers of music and our responses to them, to support vulnerable people living with a range of challenges. Central to this is the belief that despite illness, disability or trauma; the ability to connect and respond to and through music remains; and by using music strategically and flexibly, therapists can work towards clinical goals relating to psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative or social needs.
The range of people that can benefit from music therapy is broad and includes those with learning and physical disabilities, autism, mental health concerns, dementia and life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses. Music therapy sessions can include actively engaging in music making through improvisation, song writing, performing or recording, listening or talking about music; and can take place individually or within a group setting. Music therapists may also facilitate choirs, bands and other musical groups, and often work closely with parents, siblings, partners and staff depending on what is useful and appropriate.
After studying music at King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music, Jo worked as a freelance musician and music teacher before training as a music therapist on the Masters of Music Therapy: Music, Health, Society programme at Nordoff Robbins. Since qualifying she has worked in adult mental health in both inpatient and community settings, in special and mainstream schools and nurseries with children with profound and multiple learning difficulties, autism and social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and at the Nordoff Robbins London Centre where she worked with a range of adults and children and facilitated the Nordoff Robbins Community Choir.
Having returned to her native Wales in summer 2016, Jo is now developing a music therapy service within the ABMU Health Board in partnership with Nordoff Robbins, and is currently exploring opportunities within a range of departments including palliative care and traumatic brain injury. She is very excited to be contributing to the Arts in Health practice in Wales and to be reaching more communities, settings families and individuals through music therapy.