Caryl discovered the power of music therapy in her late 50s. She’d lived her life with cerebral palsy, a severe physical disability, but made the most of it. Caryl had been married, lived independently and enjoyed painting and crafts with her feet, but now her physical abilities were diminishing, necessitating a move into a care home.
Here she joined a singing group run by the resident Nordoff Robbins music therapist and discovered she had a voice that people enjoyed listening to. Before long she was singing publicly in the home, while in individual music therapy sessions she found a beautiful way of playing the piano, drum and cymbal with her right foot – the only part of her body that she could move. As her physical abilities diminished further, Caryl began to focus more on singing and with the help of her music therapist, she also began to compose songs. Perhaps surprisingly, these were full of love, gratitude and wonder at the world. It all became utterly absorbing for her and she would lie awake at night writing lyrics about her late husband, her dog, her childhood, and love of nature.
Caryl’s sister sang in a local choir which, when approached, were eager to perform some of Caryl’s songs. Her music therapist helped to rehearse the choir, and attending the performance of her work outside the restrictions of the home was a profound experience for Caryl. At the concert she was applauded for her bravery and the quality of her work.
Music for Caryl was a lifeline, bringing not only personal satisfaction but standing in the community. In her own words:
“It has given me strength to carry on and cope with what I’ve got.”
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