Meet Bertie and Harry – the Music Therapists working with CRAM Foundation clients for 2023.
A new partnership between the CRAM foundation and WollCon will see two highly qualified and experienced music therapists bring creative music opportunities into the lives of people whose physical and mental challenges prevent them from accessing musical activities.
Both hope the year-long project with CRAM Foundation will be fun and fulfilling for their new clients, as well as showing the world – their world – through music and song.
While Bertie has been officially working as a Music Therapist for the last 5 years, he has been running music programs and workshops based on his experience as a teacher and support worker over many years.
“Once I realised I wasn’t going to be a rock star – I was 25 then – I got more into community based practices. While studying community theatre in the Philippines, I witnessed how music was used for community empowerment, social justice and health education. The folk music scene has its own emphasis on participation and inclusivity. Even teaching ChiME classes at WollCon or running recycled instrument-making workshops – these were all ways in which music is not just entertainment, but ‘positive change through music’, music for social and personal empowerment.” Said Bertie.
Along the way, Bertie found himself drawn to working with people with disabilities.
“I have a brother with profound disabilities, this may explain why.”
Then one day he heard about music therapy and decided to complete a Masters in Creative Music Therapy. Bertie is dedicated to his work as a WollCon Music Therapist, and says that he is absolutely doing what he loves.
“It is so rewarding to see how banging a drum or making up a song could allow people to express themselves, to ‘bring them out of themselves’. Music opens up other ways of communicating and connecting, it can motivate movement or dance, or even just help someone find some moments of calm amongst life’s difficulties.”
“Music opens up other ways of communicating and connecting, it can motivate movement or dance, or even just help someone find some moments of calm amongst life’s difficulties.”
“I really enjoy that I get to play music and write songs with people all day! I love how every client is unique, and you learn so much getting to know them, finding that spark and musical interest that works for them.”
He agrees the challenges can be around communication or limited mobilities, or even taking a while to build trust and rapport with a new client.
“It will be exciting to see the innovative ways we can use modified instruments, sensory objects and maybe a bit of technology to make music with clients at CRAM.” said Bertie.
HARRY TREGILGAS (pictured above left)
Harry’s journey into Music Therapy began when he volunteered for an Arts in Health Program at Flinders Medical Centre, where he had the opportunity to play music with his guitar and voice to patients in a variety of wards including Acute and Palliative Care.
“I gained an eye opening insight into the way music can be used in a therapeutic way to support quality of life, health, function and well-being.” Said Harry.
During that time he also completed an Honours in Screen and Media and even created a short documentary about the effect of sound and music as therapy. Harry then wanted to find a career that combined his music, creativity, and working with people face-to-face.
“I’d heard about Music Therapy and I thought being able to use creativity and improvisation to support people seemed like an awesome fit.”
Harry has 5 years previous experience running individual and group music therapy sessions with a variety of clients with varying physical and intellectual neurodevelopmental disabilities. He was based at disability group homes such as AFFORD, and a CRAM centre in the Illawarra, and was already adapting instruments to support client’s self-expression.
He’s been working at WollCon since 2019 and finds a lot of satisfaction in working as a Music Therapist, with clients with varying and complex needs.
“My favourite part of this work is seeing the way music lights people up. We also know that music lights up the brain – especially playing musical instruments which taps into both left and right sides of the brain.”
“Finding creative ways that we can support clients to access music and help them to self-express through music, like finding their unique innate musicality and drawing that out of them, will be a challenge, however it will be great to find ways we can overcome and adapt to these challenges.”
It is anticipated that the resulting work of this year-long project between WollCon and CRAM will showcase the creativity of people within our community who are under-represented to a mainstream audience.
The outcomes will be publicly available for all to enjoy.