"At first I was very nervous about starting work with my mum; I knew she worked with adults who have learning disabilities and that was so 'foreign' that I was rather scared of the idea. My attitude changed 5 minutes into the first session I had, which was on Monday morning. We had arranged to work at a care home with two clients for half an hour each. I had a weird feeling as we pulled up into the drive and my face wasn't exactly the happiest, but as soon as we'd gotten all the instruments in and the music making started, my frown of confusion soon turned into a smile that has stayed with me ever since.
I watched videos about a local senior living facility and a video on a Lifemusic session. I enjoyed the Lifemusic session the most because I realised you can use your voice for so much more than just singing. You can make noises of all different kinds and when put together with other people's versions it can actually make music. The second day of the work experience consisted of starting with a Psychology A-Level class, of all things! Mum and I both agreed that her taking part in a Psychology class has influenced her work and helped her greatly with her job. So as a paired decision we arrived nice and early to the class. The class lasted about 2 hours and within that time period I learnt a lot of interesting and useful things such as conformity and what factors effecting conformity are, why people conform etc.
Bright and early Wednesday morning and we were already in the car again on the way to another client. This session I joined in more because the previous two sessions I had only been observing what my mum does. Maybe you haven't had the privilege to bash a drum or shake a shaker but I can tell you now it puts a broad smile on my face. Music-making really can just make you feel good inside. The best part is you create the music yourself and it belongs to you. The two clients we had on Wednesday were rather contrasting, for the first one was lively and rather noisy where as the second client prefers peaceful singing. This again shows that each client has their own choice to what type of music is produced. It isn't always loud and riveting, sometimes it's quiet and peaceful and sometimes it's a bit of both!
Thursday morning we visited another house with two fellows that are both in wheelchairs, the nervous feeling of not knowing what to expect had returned but I kept a smile on my face as we unloaded the car and stepped inside the warm house. To my surprise (and by now I don't even know why it was such a surprise to me!) the environment was more than friendly, I was greeted with friendly smiles and hellos as my mum introduced me as her 'work experience student'. We settled down and in this session I really got to join in with the fun of improvisational music making. I also admiringly watched as I saw my mum work with a man who isn't able to move his body a lot; she used what's well known as the 'iPad' and had an application on there that produced all sorts of weird noises when you dragged your fingers along the touch screen. It fascinated me how easily you can find solutions to things such as a client who is unable to move a lot (enough to play a drum) and a client who doesn't always open his eyes so isn't really aware of their surroundings.
We then went and worked with a man who has down syndrome and the session went very fluently; I practised more with the flute and me and mum did an excellent improvisation composition. Towards the end of this I was invited to play the keyboard with the clients, it was a lovely moment although it didn't last for long and afterwards I was told by mum that he wouldn't often do that with anyone else; which, if I'm honest, made me feel quite privileged.
After a lovely weekend it was back to work bright and early on Monday morning. Just like last week we started off by seeing two clients who live in a care home. It was lovely to see familiar faces again; although the pouring of the rain seemed to be putting a damper on everyone's moods. It didn't surprise me this time that the experience was completely different YET AGAIN. When we arrived home we had a quick visit from my form teacher to see how I was getting on. I was finally able to boast to someone else about how much I was enjoying work experience with my mum. On Tuesday it was my second (but last!) psychology A level class. The thought of this saddened me a lot because I find the lesson so utterly fascinating, I'm really hoping to take it in A Level; even if it doesn't crop up as something I need to apply for a job. I'll take it just because I love it!
We got our lunches and went to the day centre in which we were to work with the same group of people as last Tuesday afternoon; I was excited to see the familiar happy faces from last week. I even met new people! There was lots of progression in the session and we did more singing and more improvisation. By the end of the day my throat hurt from all the singing and talking I had been doing and my cheeks ached from the amount of smiling. I think working with the music group was probably my favourite thing of the two weeks... but the rest weren't far off! Wednesday was spent at home because some of mum's clients are only seen every other week so we decided it'd be best if we got some office work out of the way. I also phoned the Lighthouse to thank the lady there for allowing me to stay with mum for the whole two weeks. I hate calling unknown people but with after a bit of persuasion I got over my so-called fear and dialled the number. Unexpectedly the phone call was short and simple and very very easy. I don't see why I'd made such a fuss about it in the first place. In the afternoon of the Wednesday, me and mum set out to work on what's called 'music maintenance' where we check over all the instruments to see that they're still in good shape. We also cleared out the music room and re-arranged it all so it was more accessible.
Thursday morning we visited the same two men that we did the last Thursday morning. At first there was a bit of a kerfuffle with whether or not one of the men actually wanted to play music that day. My mum's policy is it is ALWAYS up to the client whether or not they want to make music that day, if they're not feeling up to it or are just not in the mood then she can definitely understand. After a lot of discussion it turned out we all wanted eagerly to play music. Even the workers at the home wanted to join in.
That afternoon was a scheduled 'trial session' at two potential new clients' home. Last week we had popped by to say hello and talk about whether or not the service my mum provides was right for the two men. Mum and I were both nervous about what was going to happen because neither of us had any idea! To our surprise the session went positively fantastic, well I thought it did. I wrote down which instruments and techniques worked with which client whilst mum scooted around following one of the men with her guitar. It was relaxing to listen to and watch and it put a broad smile on my face. It was a reassuring end to the day.
Unfortunately, Friday had come and it was the end of my work experience with mum. I don't think she realised how much I had enjoyed working with her. I really do enjoy seeing how she interacts with people and how amazing she is at doing that. It's made me proud to say that I worked with her for work experience. I still haven't stopped telling stories of what happened over my two weeks away from school; I haven't stopped telling people how much it opened my eyes to the wonders of music and how there isn't just a few ways of communication but hundreds of ways. Whether it's through singing with a guitar to a steady beat on a drum; music really does help people through problems they may have. I can't really explain how much I enjoyed seeing smiling faces of clients that had made their own music. Those two weeks will stay with me forever and they'll always be my first insight to the wonders of the world."