Resources: Thumbjam for iPad

In my work I make frequent use of an iPad because is offers such an intuitive interface for people with limited manual dexterity. The application that I use the most is called Thumbjam, a flexible musical instrument that has some very nice sounds.  The main reason that I use it so much is that is is so adaptable musically – I can easily select pentatonic or chord based scales and can quickly transpose the key so that the participant can play along with me while play the tenor guitar, a format for natural interaction that I have found to be very effective.  The older generation do not seem to be put off by an iPad in he same way that a computer may make them feel.  People tend to get stuck in and quickly enjoy the music making. More details for Thumbjam can be found here www.thumbjam.com

Resources: Auris Glockenspiel

This is the first post in a series about instruments and resources that I have found useful in my work.  My hope is that my experience can be of use to other practitioners. 
Auris makes some beautiful instruments that are very practical for my work.  This is a seven note glockenspiel that is tuned d,e,g,a,b,d,e which is good for playing in G major, E minor and D. It is very well tuned and makes a very clear tone. The wooden construction is very solid, aesthetically pleasing and feels more appropriate for giving to adults than many glockenspiels of this size that may be made for children.  For me it is very useful as it fits easily in my shoulder bag so I can carry it all the time.  For spontaneous musical interaction using a tuned instrument I will tend to introduce this instrument or the iPad. 
The glockenspiel cost me about £40 from www.knockonwood.co.uk. Other tuning are also available. 

Handchimes at Woodlands

Less Sass and I had an excellent session at woodlands MHU today. It was our first day working together in the unit and the first opportunity to try out the new set of handchimes.  We held a 45m session in the foyer space between the three wards and then invited patients and staff to join in.  After an exciting 10m of dancing and singing, I introduced the chimes and we played together.  By using a pentatonic scale I could let people play whenever they wished rather than try to teach a tune which would have been difficult for patients considering their level of health. The session was very well received as the comments below show:
 
“The session was absolutely fab, I can’t think of a better way to start the week” Gail, Occupational Therapist
“One patient is usually very shy but once he got up and danced he loved it and to see him smile like that was vey moving”

Hesley Village

On Thursdays I work at the Hesley Village, a residential village for adults with severe and complex learning disabilities mainly arising from autism. My remit is to work with the adults who are most difficult to reach and who tend not to access the other on-site activities. Each week I engage with about 8 adults in one-to-one sessions based around music-making, singing familiar songs and Intensive Interaction approaches. In the morning I lead a successful group music making and singing session along with the dance tutor Hilary Needham who engages some of the adults in movement.

Many of the people living at the Hesley establishments have severe autism and are often pre-verbal. Intensive Interaction is an effective approach for developing communication with people with severe learning disabilities and is an approach that I have used consistently since 2006. I began weekly work at the Hesley Group in 2009 and have since had the opportunity to explore many Intensive Interaction approaches (and experience many wonderful interaction) with the people that live there. My aim now is develop a language for Intensive Interaction to communicate this experience to other practitioners and to disseminate a model of good practice that can be of benefit to other professionals and parents. This is already beginning at Woolley Wood school where a major part of my role is to mentor staff on one-to-one Intensive Inteaction approaches to communication and language development.

Stocksbridge Neuro Rehabilitation Centre

First full session at the huntercombe brain injury rehabilitation centre in Stocksbridge near sheffield. Had a very successful day using the ipad to provide accessible interfaces for adults with limited motor skills.  One to one sessions gave me the time assess each residents needs and then appropriately engage them, creating new opportunities for self expression and communication. During the group session I encouraged staff and residents to move and dance to some rock and roll and everybody enjoyed singing familiar songs. 

Woolley Wood School

Started weekly work at Woolley wood school today.  Excellent planning meetings with staff generated a good plan for the forthcoming term of work. I will be collaborating with staff, working in the context of the classroom delivering group and individual music sessions and one to one intensive interaction. I will be mentoring staff in II in order to raise staff awareness of this effective approach to communication and social skill development. Effective evaluation will result in us all developing our practice. 

Woodlands Mental Health Unit for Older People, Rotherham

Myself and Lee Sass will begin a 10 week project for Action Space Mobile at Woodlands Acute Mental Health Unit for older people living with dementia and declining mental health. We have three objectives – to use creative, social improve the quality of life for the patients, to disseminate a model of good practice to staff and to create new opportunities for engagement between staff and residents. Over the course of the 10 weeks we will be evaluating the efficacy of our approach. I will be starting a hand chime choir using my new set of Malmark hand chimes bought recently with a kind donation made by Westfield Health. Should be a lot of fun!

Stocksbridge Neuro Rehabilitation

This month I have begun weekly work at Stocksbridge Neuro rehabilitation centre looking to use music and interaction to benefit the residents quality of life. I will be using group singing sessions and music making sessions using technology such as iPad and sound beam. Already we have seen positive developments using the iPad as it can be an excellent interface for people with reduced motor skills. I will keep this blog updated with further developments

Storytelling and Music Training

I recently delivered to workshops at a conference for residential care activity co-ordinators. The event was organised by the Derbyshire County Council Arts in Health team and was very successful. The workshops were developed to give activity co-ordinators the confidence to introduce more singing and storytelling into their care home through the delivery of group and one-to-one sessions. Here is some of the feedback from the day.

“Brilliant workshop – gave me the confidence and ideas to do singing activities as I have always avoided doing them” Sarah from Ashfields

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the hour session. I was apprehensive at singing. I join in at work but [had] no confidence to start the singing off, but now I feel I will be able to”

“The class showed how easy it is to engage in telling stories whether on a one to one basis or in groups. Storytelling can be brought into every other activity – making up a story or tell a memory”

“This has given me some great ideas for a regular music session. Well done, I really enjoyed this and would have liked another hour”