Louise Neale is a fine flautist and a prominent, valued member of the Havant Symphony Orchestra. A busy working mother from Bishop’s Waltham, she’s also a music therapist practising in secondary, special needs schools in Hampshire. It’s a noble profession requiring a high level of education, skill, patience and a caring nature. Louise has plenty of all of these qualities. She sees young people who have learning disabilities, emotional problems and/or mental health needs.
Louise firmly believes that because everyone can respond to the sound of music. It can, and does promote emotional wellbeing. The music therapist can help people interact with each other better and communicate better. Live interaction between therapist and client can also improve self-confidence, self-awareness and lead to better concentration and attention skills.
It’s long been known that music can lift our spirits, reduce anxiety and help us overcome our frustrations and fears. All this can give us an improved quality of life. Louise engages in live musical interaction and play between herself and her clients. She can use a variety of musical styles and instruments including the voice to help bring people out of their shells and express themselves better. From the cradle to the grave, music can play a part in enriching our lives. Newborn babies can develop healthier bonds with their parents. It can soothe and comfort those approaching the end of life too. As experienced at funerals, music can also help release pent-up sadness.
As seen on television, music and singing can have a tremendously beneficial effect on those suffering from dementia. There is no cure for this awful condition and around 850,000 people are suffering from it in the UK.
Actress Vicky McClure (Star of the police thriller, Line of Duty) stumbled on the benefits of music while caring for her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. She immediately saw the good it was doing. She set up a choir in her home for dementia patients and this led to her teaming up with some very tenacious neuroscientists.
Vicky joined forces with researchers at the Open University, the University of Nottingham and University College London to help with an ongoing study into the impact of music on the brains of dementia sufferers. Scientific study is now providing an anchor of understanding, exploring how music activates linked areas of the brain dealing with memory, emotion and language. The scientists are seeing how these areas interact anew when they are stimulated simultaneously.
At differing ends of the spectrum, both Louise Neale and Vicky McClure are doing vital work in using music to give hope and joy to the less fortunate. They deserve a round of applause, don’t you think?