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Musical Memories – Chloe Buttery

We all have a connection to music. Music has the power to evoke memories, improve mood, and facilitate movement. At Touch Trust, music is a central part of all our sessions, whether it is playing in the background, or our guests are part of more active music-making in the percussion part of each session.

The Touch Trust session follows an energy curve, and the music we choose to play in the background for each part of the session fits with this too. We always start off our sessions with calm and gentle music, creating a peaceful atmosphere that allows our guests to settle and relax into the space. As we focus on our breathing, it is helpful to have gentle music that doesn’t dictate the speed of our breath. Similarly, at the end of our sessions we always allow space for relaxation, where we bring down the lights and enjoy listening to music together. Guests may like to close their eyes or look at the galaxy lights or projector on the ceiling whilst they focus on the sounds of the music.

As we move into the more energetic parts of our sessions, our guests have the opportunity to create their own music using both their voices and instruments, and there is always time for dancing too. Partners are encouraged to support our guests with this. We have a wide range of instruments to suit our guests’ different needs, and we encourage guests to express themselves authentically playing the instruments however they like. For example, some guests may use a beater to play a xylophone, or move their hands the push the cymbals or chimes. For others, music is a sensory experience and less focused around sound. For example, guests may enjoy observing the beads inside the ocean drum as they move around, or feeling the cool metal of the cymbals on their skin. Others may prefer to stand up and dance along to the music, or explore throwing sensory balls.

Using an upbeat and rhythmic piece of music in the background that our guests can play along to can be helpful to stimulate rhythm and movement during percussion and dancing. For other guests, music can be enlivening and motivating, and familiar songs may also encourage singing or vocalisations. We are lucky at Touch Trust to also have connections with many other brilliant organisations, and our guests are often able to participate in projects which explore music in different ways within the sessions, including creating music around a theme such as the weather. This can be an enjoyable, empowering and creative experience.

Throughout the whole of each session we take a person-centred approach, adjusting to suit each guest’s needs. Choosing the music for our sessions is an important part of this too. As we get to know our guests, we learn more about them and the music they may like or dislike. For guests who may not be able to tell us verbally about the music they like, we can observe their reactions to the music to gain insight into the styles they enjoy. Additionally, it is always great when our guests come with a partner who works with them regularly, as often their partner will be able to advise us on the musical likes and dislikes of the guest, even within the first session. This can support a guest to settle into their session much more quickly!

25 September 2023