A photo of music therapist John Wallis playing a keyboard and singing

Friday Music Therapy group’s story

Barking & Dagenham Memory Service has been working with music therapist John Wallis since 2016. The Covid-19 pandemic led to the suspension of the much-loved Friday Music Therapy group at Broad Street Health Centre, so the group has moved online.

For many at the Barking & Dagenham Memory Service, online music therapy has provided connection and companionship since their Friday Music therapy group had been suspended due to Covid-19.

To combat the growing social isolation felt by so many of their groups members and carers during the Covid-19 pandemic, they decided to move their much-loved Friday Music Therapy group online after the face to face sessions were suspended.

Two online music therapy group members share their experience;

“We feel this is such a fantastic service! John who runs these sessions makes them so enjoyable and he is so patient and has a great sense of fun. He makes sure everyone is included and we are encouraged to give song choices. We feel very lucky to be able to have this service and also feel that music is so good for everyone and their mental health wellbeing.”

“Without my visits to the Memory Clinic sessions and self-isolating for most of the time it can become very isolating.  The music session just gives me a break and is a welcome relief”.

 

Their music therapist John Wallis shares his experience of taking the therapy group digital;

“To be honest, I was sceptical about the idea of making music online due to the inevitable technical hitches and audio delays. But, I’m glad to say we’ve found huge positives through doing the virtual sessions that make it worthwhile.

Music has a fantastic way of bringing people together, allowing a forum in which to be creative and playful. Singing in particular is a powerful way to have a joyful, collective, human experience that cuts through the technical limitations to foster social connections and personal wellbeing.

It’s often a bit chaotic at the start of the session while people are finding the ‘unmute’ button or turning their camera on, and I was concerned that this could cause anxiety or distress to people living with mental health difficulties. However, the group have shown such resilience and determination to make it work, and the sessions have found their own rhythm, flow and pace.

By moving the sessions online, we’ve been able to reach some people that have never been able to access the group in person and we have gained a sense of community that is needed more than ever.

For now, the online sessions will continue to bring people together virtually. We no longer need to finish with ‘Show Me the Way to Go Home’, but we part with ‘We’ll Meet Again…'”

Screenshot of a Zoom call with John Wallis and therapy group members singing

 

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