People with acquired brain injuries in Wylde Green are being offered the opportunity to make music through a pioneering partnership between the brain injury charity, Headway, and the disabled music charity, OHMI.
Music-making has long been recognised as playing an important part in an individual’s journey to recovery from illness. The benefits are wide-ranging. At the very basic of levels, it is an activity that can be undertaken simply for enjoyment. There are, however, more complex reasons why playing an instrument has such a profound impact. It improves fine motor skills, as well as memory when it comes to learning the sequence of chords. Playing to the rhythm of particular beats of a bar is also a useful counting exercise.
They are all benefits well recognised by Headway, and the reason why it approached OHMI to work with the individuals it supports. The sessions have been taking place every week for the last five months.
Paula Ewer, a guitar teacher at Solihull Music Service with some 40 years’ experience, was commissioned by OHMI to lead the sessions.
“There was a group consensus that the guitar would be an interesting instrument to learn. However, some of our musicians are quite restricted in their movement – perhaps only being able to move one finger – so navigating the fingerboard would prove prohibitive.
“We therefore opted for the Artiphon Instrument 1 as an alternative to the guitar. It’s a midi-controller so it can be anything you want it to be – whether that be a drum kit, ukulele or guitar. At £350, it is also a relatively cheap instrument.
“We started off using the Artiphon Instrument 1's as drum machines, with the group playing rhythms alongside my playing and singing. ‘We Will Rock You!’ by Queen was an obvious choice as it has such a strong drumbeat. Now we’ve moved on to the guitar setting, and the group have chosen Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and Rihanna’s ‘Lift Me Up’. Regardless how severe the brain injury, everyone can participate – and that really is a joy to see and hear!”
The project necessitated the purchase of six Artiphon Instrument 1's, iPods, as well as the teaching provision. It was made possible by funding from the Boshier-Hinton Foundation, Edward and Dorothy Cadbury Trust, the Hopkins Sayer Charity, the Clothworkers' Foundation and Grimley Charity.