Thursday, 30 June 2011


In the poetry section, I've started publishing a series of poems I wrote as part of a writing group at University nearly 20 years ago. Lots more to come!

Zakheni Arts Therapy Foundation

Have added a link to this organisation, doing wonderful therapeutic and psychoeducational work in South Africa. I'm lucky enough to be able to support them in a small way.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tony Wigram

Just heard that Professor Tony Wigram has died, after battling with a brain tumour for some time. A blogpost cannot sufficiently express how devasted I am to hear this. Not only was he one of the world's foremost researchers in Music Therapy, in particular in relation to Autism, but in so many other areas too, he was a lovely guy. He made time to chat to people, he willingly gave of his time and expertise, and he has guided many Music Therapists along the path to their PhDs. I was hoping he would do the same for me one day, but this will never happen. The modern profession of Music Therapy has so much to thank Tony for - he was at the forefront of getting us state registration in the UK, and has been involved in the profession's development in Europe and beyond. He will be greatly missed.

clarinet recording

Here's a recording of me warming up the clarinet and charming some snakes this morning!
clarinet recording

Monday, 27 June 2011

Summary of a non-existent book

Found this recently - a proposal for a book I was thinking about a couple of years ago that I didn't have time to follow up!

      This book will aim to show how I have been developing my own identity as a Music Therapist, integrating my life experience and knowledge into the way I work. It will include reflections on what led me to train as a Music Therapist, what I brought with me to that training, and how the course affected me personally. This will include an overview of the more theoretical aspects of the course, looking at insights from psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry, child development, and other healthcare professions, along with the theory and practice of Music Therapy. Alongside this will be the impact of the training on me, challenging some of my preconceptions and taking me into uncharted territory. It will also incorporate insights from Theology and Philosophy, as my first degree was in Theology (with modules in Philosophy). I will be examining how, as a Music Therapist, I can address the needs of my clients on a physical, mental and spiritual level, showing how I seek to help my clients integrate these aspects of themselves. I will also explore the impact of my Christian faith on my work, and how appropriate it is to bring matters of faith into my professional life.
       On a more practical level, this book should act as a guide to Music Therapy to non-music therapists and those considering a career in Music Therapy. It will be helpful to those people whose work brings them into contact with Music Therapists, such as teachers in special education, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals. It may also encourage other Music Therapists to look at how they define themselves as therapists.
        Integration will be a major theme - on a personal level, looking at how I integrate all my knowledge, experience and personal qualities into a consistent approach; on a theoretical level, integrating insights from a variety of sources; on a clinical level, seeing how how I can help clients to integrate their experiences and disparate aspects of themselves, on  physical, mental and spiritual levels.

Perhaps I should just write the book on my blog, in installments. All comments and suggestions welcome!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Psychiatry and Spirituality

On Friday I went to a local meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Spirituality Interest Group. I'm not a psychiatrist, but nor were several of those attending. For example, there were several trainee counsellors. I was fascinated by the juxtaposition of these two words, as Psychiatrists have always had a reputation for being anti spiritual. This is clearly no longer true as their Spirituality Group is the largest of the college's interest groups. This local offshoot attracted about a dozen of us, of different religious and professional backgrounds.
We started by looking at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs which shows the different levels of need we have, from basic physiological needs, to those of self-actualization, becoming the person we want to be. Some of us argued that it shouldn't be hierarchical and that a holistic view would be better. Maslow's view can see spirituality and fulfilment as something that can only happen once all your basic needs have been met. This doesn't fit with the vibrant spirituality you often find in areas of poverty, or, conversely, with the lack of spirituality amongst many affluent societies. It was, however a useful starting point, and we thought about which area of the hierarchy we spent most time in - I like spending time in the higher areas, and am not so good at doing the practical stuff. My wife, who looks after the children while I go to work, is bogged down in the lower regions, rarely getting a chance to do something for herself.
We then looked at the influence of our parents on how we live - what elements we have taken from them, and what is new that has come out of this. This was in the context of looking at Trinities of different kinds, and Hegelian Dialectic The idea of two opposites (Thesis and Antithesis) coming together and being resolved in a Synthesis, that transcends both of them. This is also a theme in Jungian psychology See this article here for more on Jung's ideas about opposites. I won't divulge too much about my parents, but suffice to say that over the years I've realised that I'm not a carbon copy of my Dad, but that I have a lot of characteristics from my Mum, which I also give thanks for!
We also did some mindfulness exercises focusing on our breathing, making a note of the thoughts that arise, but then focusing back on the breathing. As a Christian, I have no particular problem with this, but prefer meditation to be focused on God. This could be a useful way to prepare for prayer and contemplation though, and I might try it! We also looked at the Grail Quest and the story of Parsifal as metaphors for the search for meaning in life. I made the point that the grails quest can be seen as illustrating our constant search for the unattainable - if only I had a bigger house, a better car, a better job etc, then I would be happy. True happiness surely comes from an acceptance of what we have, not seeking some mythical object. There was an interesting discussion about the grail being empty - it needs to be empty, so that it can be filled. This can be applied to how we should be - several religions talk about kenosis, or self-empyting. In Christianity this leaves us open to being filled by the Spirit.
All in all a very interesting day, and it's good to know that there is an acknowledgement of the spiritual in Psychiatry.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Diane Austin

Diane is a Vocal Psychotherapist working in New York, who led an inspiring workshop I attended once. She combines insights from Jung with vocal improvisation techniques, and I have used these techniques myself. There are audio samples on the website, as well as an interactive piano on the home page. I have just read her most recent book, "Songs of the Self: The Theory and Practice of Vocal Psychotherapy", and wholeheartedly recommend it. Make sure you check out the singing horses on her website!

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Swiss Trio

Have added a link for this brilliant jazz trio, who have kindly agreed to do a lunchtime concert for me at Wonford House Hospital, Exeter on Friday 19th November ,on their way to the Teignmouth Jazz Festival. Lots of free samples available on their website.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

My faith journey

Have started describing this process on My Faith page. More to come!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Rebecca Peyton

Have put a link to Vital Digression, the website of my actor friend, Rebecca Peyton. She has been touring her one woman show "Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister" an exploration of the impact of her sister's death five years ago, shot in Mogadishu while working for the BBC. Despite the tragic nature of this event, there is humour in the performance too. The tour has finished, but I'm sure she'd be open to further bookings!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Photos of Rose Verney's Exhibition

I've put lots of photos of the exhibition on My Photos page. Do take a look! Rose is happy to sell her work, so contact me if you're interested

Art display

One of our Art Psychotherapists, Rose Verney, has installed some fabulous artworks at our workplace. I have her permission to take photos and put them on my blog, though you really have to be able to reach out and touch them, something Rose is happy for people to do. I'm so lucky working here!
Photos will follow soon.

more music

Here's another track from that 2001 Intravenous Jazz gig!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Rachmaninov g#minor Prelude

Heres some Rachmaninov, complete with comedy pageturn - I don't put in enough hours practice to memorise pieces, though I did once perform the Sinding without music (when at school - my grey cells must have deteriorated since then)

New recording

Here's my attempt at Rustle of Spring by Christian Sinding!

alternate format

Here's my old band recording in wma if that helps anyone!

Charley Langer

Have added link to Charley's website. He a sax player I've been chatting to on Twitter. If you want "intelligent smooth jazz" he's your man!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Time to Change

This organisation campaigns, in very creative and thought provoking ways, to remove the stigma of suffering from mental illness.

Link to Play Therapy TV

This is the You Tube Channel for the World Congress of Play Therapy held in Marrakech last year, where I gave a paper. There are videos of Sir Richard Bowlby and Sue Gerhardt. Well worth watching!

Monday, 6 June 2011

New Link - School of Life

The School of Life is a wonderful organisation set up by Alain de Botton which aims to share ideas through articles, workshops and online sharing. It's a treasure trove of interesting thoughts!

New powerpoint link

Have shared a powerpoint of a talk given by Professor Tony Wigram about Music Therapy and Autism at a meeting I organised a couple of years ago. Tony is our leading expert in this field, has given decades of service to Music Therapy - this week is national Music Therapy week, so let's celebrate the foundations laid by people like Tony. Sadly he is very unwell at the moment - my thoughts and prayers go out to him.
Click on title of this post

Friday, 3 June 2011

Chronic Christian

Very pleased to have reciprocal links with Chronic Christians website - thanks Kevin! Please click on the link and have a look, it's a great website.

New Link - The Bush Technologists

Check out this band, set up by my friend Risenga Makondo, master percussionist. They're great!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

More photos

Have added photos from recent camping trip to My Photos. Show Dunster Castle and village

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Just returned from a slightly soggy camping trip to Exmoor. Went with large group from Church, which meant the more experienced campers could help us get the tent up for the first time. Very pleased with it - spacious, and most importantly, waterproof!
Bizarrely, a few miles down the road, at Dunster Castle, it was five degrees warmer and sunny. Returned to campsite, it had been cold and damp all day! Will post a few photos later.