Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lunchtime Concert - The Swiss Trio

On Friday 18th November The Swiss Trio came to Wonford House Hospital Chapel to perform the last in my series of concerts, and what a way to finish. The trio, consisting of Steve Down, guitar, Si Robinson, double bass, and David Hackett, drums, are one of the best I've heard in many a year. As a friend and psychiatrist working in Bristol said to me, this was the kind of concert you might expect at the Colston Hall in Bristol. I would go further and say that it would be worthy of any venue, anywhere. They combined melodic lines with inventive improvisation, and worked as a unit - in a trio there can be no weakest link. There is nowhere to hide. All three are exceptional musicians and combine with each other with amazing sensitivity. They have been playing together for some time now, and this can been seen in the way they communicate with each other, exploring their own compositions as on a joint voyage. The sound quality was great too - I was worried that the acoustics of the chapel might be too boomy, but the carpet deadens it a bit and meant that the drums were clear and well balanced with the other two. The guitar had a lovely tone that was enhanced by the acoustics, and the bass came through loud and clear. I made a recording which has turned out quite well, and may post some excerpts if the band are happy with that.
The only disappointment was that only about 15 people came. It was a surreal experience - here are one of the best bands on the jazz circuit, playing in a hospital where there are about 200 non-clinical staff, and three wards, playing for a ridiculously small fee, and hardly anyone turns up! The ones that did had a treat, and it was great to see a couple of my clients who have learning disabilities, and someone from one of the mental health wards. One of my clients use a wheelchair, and this exposed the awful accessibility of our hospital, an old Victorian institution. When he needed the toilet he had to go about 300 yards to the nearest disabled toilet, which happened to be in the corridor where all the most senior managers work! It was very gratifying to see him going into the inner sanctum of our trust, in a place where people with disabilities aren't often seen.
The guitarist, Steve, lives in Exeter, but the other two live in London. I hope to meet up with him more often, and exchange ideas.
Now I have to find funding for more concerts - about £500 a concert is usually enough - any suggestions/offers welcome!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Conference Thoughts - Part Seven

That evening, my last there, I joined a group heading off for a meal, some of whom I knew, some not. We had a very convivial meal, then popped back to the Real Collegio for some live music. This was provided by a band from a local psychiatric hospital, made up of inpatients. They played a mix of well known songs and their own compositions, and were brilliant, getting people up and dancing (including me - not photographic evidence fortunately!)
I then got taken out by a group of Dutch and German delegates who after my perfomance in the Robert Landy workshop, regarded me as some kind of mascot, parading me to their friends. This was very flattering and I went along with it, if only so that I could get some very nice free wine! I was taken to Vinarkia wine bar where we had some of the local wine, which was excellent. We chatted for ages, and eventually I rolled into my dormitory about 1am, having said earlier that I would have an early night due to giving a paper in the morning.
So, after another cafe breakfast, I head, along with fellow presenter Daniel Stolfi (see here) and our chair for the session Mitch Mitchelson We were determined to get to our venue, The Convent of San Micheletto  early, but were puzzled when we found no one there to let us into the lecture theatre. Then we realised that, because it was away from the main conference base, the papers started half an hour later, to give people time to walk there! Eventually a student helper came to let us in and we got set up. Despite the ancinet external appearance, the theatre turns out to be very modern with comfy chairs, a dais with several individual microphones, laptop, projector and big screen. However, if you went through the doorway at the back, it led to a beautiful little chapel with some pews and an altar. I spent some time in prayer there before giving may paper. I had about 25 people there I guess, enough to make me nervous. I went through the paper, and it all seemed to go ok (see my powerpoint here) . The only bad thing was that I then had to make a mad dash to the train station, missing Daniel's presentation and the closing party. This was so that I get home quicker and not try my wife's patience further by leaving her with the children all weekend as well as half the week! Many thanks to her for letting me go to this conference which,as you can gather from the seven blogposts on it, was very inspiring and enjoyable. Also, many thanks to any of you that have had the patience and interest to read all seven posts - I admire your stamina!

Friday, 11 November 2011

My online business card

I now have an online business card should you wish to contact me Click here

Friday, 4 November 2011

Conference Thoughts part six

After the Hero's Journey experience, it was time for something a bit different, so I went to a series of short case study presentations. The first was called "Music Therapy and the bodily experience: a case of infantile psychosis" This referred in particular to the ideas of Margaret Mahler and illustrated them with a case study about a young boy who found it easier to have his music therapy sessions in a tree house. One could speculate on the meaning of this - the protective nature of it for example - but it is also an example of how a therapist has to be flexible. We usually like to control the environment we work in, and don't like to be taken out of it, so congratulations to Marieke for having the courage to follow her client up a tree!
She was followed by Kathinka Poismans about Music Therapy with autistic children. She has developed a measure of synchrony in her sessions called INTIME. Before talking about this, she explained the innate musicality that we all have - our ability to share a pulse with others, to be rhythmical and the way that our communication occurs in phrases and narratives (Stephen Malloch 1999). She also referred to clock genes (Nicholas et al 2007), which might be seen as our internal sense of timing. Apparently these genes are missing in people with autism.
The INTIME measure involves analysing short sections of sessions and allocating them to three categories:
1. No shared time
2. Shared beat
3.Dialogical exchange
This seems very simple, but actually gives a very good picture of the quality of the interaction and how it can vary from moment to moment.
The last of the three presentations was by Art Therapist Frances Prokofiev, who is also a tutor on the Goldsmiths College Art Therapy course. This was about children who have suffered early maternal deprivation, resulting in disorganised attachments. She agreed with art therapist Caroline Case who said that, with these children, doing things together is more important than analysis. With a particular client, this involved making rackets and playing tennis together, as well as voicework - so not "pure" art therapy as such. This related to the theme of my paper, to be given the following day, about using different art forms in our work while retaining our identity in our own art form.
After lunch I headed off to the Palazzo Ducale and this splendid room for a workshop by my former colleague, Jeanette MacDonald, with the wonderful title of If you should meet a Crocodile. We had a lot of serious fun in this workshop, exploring the characteristics of crocodiles - fierce, but also very gentle to their offspring, covered in plating. We created images of crocodiles, and wrote words we associated with them, and explored how some aspects of crocodiles can be seen in our own natures (the most primitive part of our brain is the Reptilian Brain) We then did some movement worked associated with our images and words.
We were also each given prints of artwork designed to provoke a strong reaction. The odd thing is I liked mine! It was in grey pencils I think, abstract in form, but there appeared to be a knight in armour lurking within, and some musical notation. For some reason this struck a chord with me - the musical connection is obvious, but knight in rather dull armour? I can be very guarded and defensive when I feel under attack, criticised. Maybe that is what  made this picture resonate for me. We then moved around the room in response to these pictures, and I attempted to shape my body the way it appeared the knight was standing. Jeanette then played a mean trick on us, asking to move around the room while listening to a song performed in two very different styles - one very emotive with string backing (the kind I tend to hate) and a reggae infused version. Obviously we danced around in very different styles, the latter being more laid back. She then told us that she would never use music in her sessions, because it influences movement so strongly. It was lovely to see Jeanette again - she has had an awful few years, but seems to be finding some equilibrium in her life now.
The next post will describe my final, enjoyable, night in Lucca, and the experience of giving my presentation before dashing off to catch the train and plane.