Errol and Oli – Music Therapy at Headway

By admin
Posted: 08/09/2022

Today we’re taking a closer look at our partnership with Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s largest music therapy charity. We’ve been working with them for the last 4 years and the last 3 years with music therapist Oli Kluczewski. Oli joins us at our day centre every Thursday, working with our members in lively groups and in one-to-one sessions. If you walk past our music room on one of these days, it’s hard not to smile at the high spirited sounds and singing that flow from the room.

We spoke to Oli about his work with Headway member Errol.

Thinking about my work with Errol, I am always asking myself, how is music helping here in this particular moment? In the work with Errol there is a desire to provide a sense of flow. Thinking of the context of the work, his injury, his life circumstance; his experience of flow has been severely disrupted: the flow of time, of structure, the flow of communication between people and a reduction in how the building blocks of communication (flexibility, adaptability) are experienced.

I work flexibly to meet and extend Errol’s song, listening for opportunities to mirror and match his music and work with space to provide Errol the experience of initiating the next musical phrase.

I am working holistically with all the musical elements Errol is presenting me with, engaging with body movements, eye contact and facial expressions to bring our interaction into to it’s fullest sense.

This was right at the end of the session. Errol was tired but there was a sense of intention and willingness to stay in music. As often is the case with Errol, he initiates short fragments of melodies and words from his vast repertoire of songs.

Here, I provide a sense of invitation and anticipation to lead Errol into singing. I’m listening for the spaces in our music, supporting the flow and Errol’s own experience of the song as it unfolds, with both of us encouraging each other to invest in the collaboration.

Errol’s music has a sense of theatre, humour and performance about it as we move through our music this becomes more expansive and expressive with a change in body language and movement.

As the song comes to a point of closure with both pause for a moment and at the time I thought the music had finished for the day. Errol initiates a return to singing there is something different in his energy this time, the touch and quality of his music has shifted and I change my accompaniment. The music moves in a different direction, one filled with a different harmonic language, more space and a different quality of melody and textural qualities.

The spareness and spaciousness of the music becomes more apparent, acknowledging a more fragile, reflective musical interaction.

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