Now, as a music lover, I would never pass up the opportunity to plug in my guitar and try to learn my newest favourite song or when I’m doing a bit of cleaning around the house, to get me going, a bit of lunchtime radio might just do the trick. But what happens when your head suddenly becomes a horrible place to be? When you think of everything except thoughts of things that make you happy? Food has lost its taste, scents have lost its smell and the world becomes a very dark place. There are many ways in which one can cope with such situations on their own or with medication, but most need just a bit of extra help. That’s where Music 24 comes in.
Music 24 is a not-for-profit establishment based in Luton. They offer Music Therapy and other music based activities in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. Graeme Davis and Teela Hughes are the co-founders of Music 24 which was established in 2014 in the month of April. Their main aim is to work with people who, let’s say, have been through and/or still going through tough circumstances in life such as, a learning disability, Dementia, mental illnesses and much more.
Upon my first encounter with Music 24, I was on a psychiatric ward (not for the first time mind you) and had been told by the nurses and support workers there that “Music Therapy” would be a regular thing for the next six months. Frankly, I was a tad sceptical about it because usually when people come in to keep patients occupied on the ward, they are not the happiest looking people on the planet. Sometimes they tend to be condescending by way of manner and speech. In relation to music, well some couldn’t even play an instrument so patients would show lack of interest in the activity resulting in the activity to be discontinued. Music 24 however, are so much more different. They speak to you like you are a human being, which sounds like an obvious thing, but I should point out that the opposite happens on a regular basis when people from the public come in to provide a service. They also can play instruments to a brilliant standard. That in itself is all they had to do really. Just play. And sure enough the other patients joined in. The best part is, you don’t have to be great at it. Just making sounds with an instrument is enough to stimulate the mind. Me being doubtful, it took me a while to get in the swing of things, but when I saw the guitar, I lit up with joy. Memories of teaching myself how to play this sweet instrument came flooding back and I was itching to play. A few weeks went by and not only was I excited about seeing all the instruments, but I was excited to see the people that had brought them in. struggling with depression, I would have been still stuck in bed. But it was the sheer simplicity of music that got me up, playing, singing and dancing.
This is where I ask the question to myself; clearly music is like a drug – so they say, but what’s more important here? Music activities and having fun or being highly dosed on medication and possibly becoming dependant on them for the rest of your life? Its about getting people their lives back or continuing it with their condition in the best way they possibly can. That, in my opinion, is what Music 24 is all about.
When asked what it’s like to work with people with mental health conditions, Graeme of Music 24 explains: “it’s a privilege to work with the people on the wards. They are so creative and the talent is virtually untapped and therefore quite raw. This is like fuel that feeds the energy that people bring to the sessions.
“It’s equally sad because of the pain they are experiencing. A double-edged sword. Whilst medication is highly important and clearly a priority, it does seem to deprived people of their uniqueness and spontaneous creativity.
“With regards to the future, we’re just fresh off the starting blocks for expanding into Hertfordshire, however with our Dementia work. Our mental health work is more about getting people to realise their ability and use it to increase self-worth, confidence and inspire ambition. We’d like to offer work to the talented people we come across, this gives people a sense of purpose and belonging but is very much for a select few rather than curing the masses…. We’d like to offer more creative opportunities and alternatives to creating lasting coping mechanisms to prevent relapse and such”
To simply put it, Music 24 made my stay as an inpatient, bearable and filled with enjoyment and laughter and has motivated me to keep banging away on my guitar in my spare time. Thank you for your time and the service you provide for people like me.
To make any enquires visit their website here
65-67 Bute Street