OPUS Music CIC Logo in White

Molly Davies

OPUS Community Music Sessions

Transforming lives through music

OPUS Expands Wellbeing Groups with Arts Council England Funding

Thanks to the generous support from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Community Fund, OPUS has been able to extend its reach, creating three music for wellbeing groups in Bolsover, Ashfield, and Nottingham. These sessions provide a supportive space for participants to delve into the therapeutic benefits of music, specifically designed to cater to those with acquired brain injury, children experiencing anxiety, and families coping with dementia.

These community-based projects originated from the growing demand within healthcare and local communities. With the current spotlight on social prescribing and activities for wellbeing at the forefront, OPUS recognised the need to carve out a space for group music making sessions. OPUS wanted to empower local music makers to lead these sessions, to share their expertise in their communities, with the additional benefit of reducing the OPUS Carbon footprint. Six local musicians were invited to lead the groups, and OPUS proudly supported them in honing their skills and gaining practical experience.

Chris Doyle, a community musician, noted the unique atmosphere created in the sessions “The community music sessions give space for the participants to relax, socialise, and engage at a nearly unconscious level with sounds, songs, and beats.”

Diane, another music-maker, highlighted the success observed among young participants “It is satisfying to see the young people enjoy the sessions – their excitement, enthusiasm, and engagement is a great success week-to-week.”

The impact on community musicians has been profound, leading to improved self-esteem and some now considering a career in music in healthcare.

Over the past fifteen weeks, participants consistently expressed their enjoyment, with some describing the experience as transformative. A Social Prescribing Link Worker shared positive feedback from patients who felt the music session brought a sense of vitality.

“I just wanted to feed back that two of my patients attended the session and said it was excellent! They thoroughly enjoyed it and the carer of the gentleman I am supporting mentioned that he ‘came alive’ with the music, which she found wonderful to see.”

Participants praised the relaxed atmosphere, and older music makers found solace reminiscing about old times.

Inspired by these positive outcomes, OPUS is eager to expand its impact. Plans include increasing participant numbers, collaborating with various sectors to ensure sustainability, and utilising the expertise of the community and network of healthcare musicians.

Financial support from Derbyshire MIND charity further enables the development of a community music-making group in Bolsover. Sessions, starting in April, will focus on music-making for wellbeing, promoting social interaction to benefit mental health and support diverse needs such as loneliness and dementia.

For more information, please get in touch contact@opusmusic.org

Community Music Sessions

OPUS Music and the Impact on Parent Mental Health

Parent Mental Health Day

OPUS Music and the Impact on Parent Mental Health

Parenting is a rewarding yet challenging journey, and the demands of caring for a child can be particularly daunting for those navigating the complexities of hospital stays, illness, and mental health challenges. This Parent Mental Health Day, we feel it is important to highlight the transformative impact of music, on parents in hospital settings and in the community.

In the words of a grateful parent whose child participated in one of the OPUS community music sessions:

“I just wanted to say an enormous thank you to the fantastic team at OPUS for the care and support you gave P in the autumn music sessions. She loved it and was always so happy about returning. It had been a very difficult year for us, but we really feel we’ve got her back. We can’t thank you enough. What a fantastic group of people P was lucky enough to be a part of.” 

A nurse, witnessing the direct impact of music in hospital environments, attests to its positive effects:

“It contributes to positive developmental care for infants and provides wonderful moments for bonding between infants and families. Thank you so much for providing this service. As a nurse, I can see the positive impact this is having for patients and their families.”

The stress of a hospital stay can be overwhelming for parents, but OPUS music sessions shine a bright light even in the darkest times. A relieved parent shares their experience:

“Their session made an otherwise stressful hospital stay much brighter. As a parent, at a time when you’re feeling exhausted and worried, they really do make things feel better. To see my daughter join in and enjoy the music and singing was so refreshing after seeing so much upset from being unwell. They take pressure off parents to entertain, relieve staff, patients and parents, and they genuinely make the ward a lovely place to be when they’re there.”

This Parent Mental Health Day, we celebrate the impact of OPUS music on parents, both in hospital and in the community. These quotes illustrate the tangible difference music can make in the lives of families facing challenges. OPUS creates space for musical expression for communities, parents, and children, to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Parent Mental Health Day-2

Free Music Care Training

FREE Music Care Training

We are offering a FREE one day OPUS Music Care training course.

Whether you care: at home, in the community, in an education setting, or as part of your job, this course is designed for you. 

We are running three, day long workshops in February 2024 to equip carers with the skills to use Music Care in their everyday care. Carers are invited to attend one of the days to gain confidence and new techniques to use Music Care in their practice.

You don’t need to be musical to attend the course, just the interest and openness to find new ways to connect and communicate.

6/2/24: 10am – 3pm – Assembly Rooms, Bolsover
7/2/24: 10am – 3pm – Community Hub, Idlewells Shopping Centre, Sutton-in-Ashfield
9/2/24: 10am – 3pm – The Radford Care Group, Nottingham

You will need to register to confirm your interest and we will get back to you to confirm your place.

Music Making in Bolsover

Community Music Making Group

Music Making in Bolsover

In the serene surroundings of Hillstown Village Hall in Bolsover, something truly special is happening every Friday afternoon. Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, a community music group led by OPUS Music has emerged as a source of inspiration and support for individuals living with Dementia, as well as their dedicated caregivers. Through music making, participants come together to create a nurturing and joyful environment.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Types of Dementia include: Alzheimer’s, Vascular, Lewy body, Frontotemporal, Huntington’s, and more.

Sarah’s Perspective

 

Sarah Matthews, one of our OPUS Musicians, involved in facilitating these sessions, captures the essence of the group beautifully. She describes it as a “wonderful group of local people caring and supporting one another through music-making and laughter.” The sessions are not just about music; they are about human connections and shared experiences. Participants engage in conversations about everyday topics, including the weather, transportation, and reciting poetry. They explore a diverse range of musical elements, from historical industrial songs to Scottish love songs and even the creation of beautiful soundscapes using various instruments. This diverse and engaging atmosphere is a testament to the power of music to bring people together and create lasting memories.

Chris’ Experience

Chris Doyle, one of the local community musicians leading the group, shares his experience. He describes the participants as a “pleasant, relaxed, interesting, and joyful group of people.” This atmosphere of positivity and relaxation sets the stage for engaging and spontaneous music sessions.

Chris finds inspiration from the participants’ life stories and memories. The sessions highlight the importance of being passionate about what you do and inspiring others. Through this musical journey, Chris has gained confidence in his own musicianship and enhanced adaptability. More than anything, he emphasises the sheer enjoyment of creating music in an uninhibited and inclusive environment. His initial expectations of participants not being very engaged were pleasantly disproved, as people embraced the opportunity to be open and try something new. The group provided a space for relaxation, socialisation, and engagement with sounds, songs, and beats.

Notably, the group has proven to be inclusive and accommodating, allowing those with decreased coordination and dexterity to participate and potentially stimulate improvements in these areas. It provides a platform for individuals to simply be present in the moment, fostering relaxation and sociability. The creativity within the group naturally evokes memories and stories, touching participants and their caregivers alike.

Harvey’s thoughts 

 

Harvey Holmshaw, another of the Bolsover-based community musicians leading the group, reflects on his positive experience with the group. He highlights how the sessions have enhanced his understanding of social care and boosted his musical confidence. The group’s benefits are all-encompassing, moving not only the participants but also the individuals leading the sessions. Harvey points out how the music deeply affects the group, often rekindling deep-rooted memories that might have been temporarily forgotten.

One of the remarkable aspects of the sessions is the power of conversation. “It positively affects the whole group, participants personalities come out… the simplicity of making and enjoying music, while sharing and stimulating memories as well as being sociable”. The group members engage in discussions, and the music created during the sessions often resonates with the thoughts and feelings shared by participants. This approach amplifies the effectiveness of the sessions and reinforces the sense of community and connection.

These music making sessions in Bolsover allow those with Dementia and their caregivers the freedom to experience music in a way they chose, offering autonomy and creative expression. It can become a source of solace, engagement, and inspiration for participants and their caregivers. Through the magic of music, memories are rekindled, and connections are formed, offering a ray of light in the lives of those facing the challenges of Dementia.

These sessions run every Friday at Hillstown Village Hall in Bolsover from 1pm – 3pm. Please get in touch if you are interested in taking part ben@opusmusic.org

OPUS Music’s Compassionate Contribution to End-of-Life Care

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

OPUS Music’s Compassionate Contribution to End-of-Life Care

 

This October the 14th the world comes together to observe World Palliative Care and Hospice Day, and we shine a spotlight on the transformative role of music in providing solace and comfort during the most delicate moments of life.

At OPUS our ethos is to make music with all to promote positive health and wellbeing. These music-making sessions explore connection, remove communication boundaries, and promote the health benefits that music brings. Supporting not only the patient, but the family, and healthcare staff that surround them at these significant times. Music offers the space for emotional release, to soothe, and to support connection, which is vital in these last moments.

“I want to thank you OPUS for yesterday. You played beautiful songs, and my Mum sang, smiled, and loved it. Mum passed away early this morning. We are devastated, but remembering the smile on her face whilst watching you will stay with me always!” – Daughter of a patient

As well as working in hospitals across the East Midlands, we also make music in community settings, in hospices, and care homes, bringing music to individuals. The feedback we have received from family testimonials highlights the significance of music in end-of-life care.

We believe that compassion in action within the realm of end-of-life care is vital, and we understand the important role that music can play in these final moments. Our healthcare musicians enter patient rooms with sensitivity and grace, crafting musical moments that transcend the ordinary. Our aim is to facilitate solace and connection to patients and their families during a challenging time.

“Thank you for playing to my mum while she was a patient. You came into her room and played beautifully, such a magical moment we will never forget, thank you.” – Son of a patient

In the hushed corridors of hospices and hospitals worldwide, where the journey of life meets its final notes, music resounds as a healer and the bridge to connection, creates lasting final memories. As we celebrate World Palliative Care and Hospice Day, we join the conversation and champion the transformative power of music in end-of-life care. Our impact extends beyond hospices and hospitals; it reaches into the hearts of patients and their families, creating lasting memories.

The profound impact of music emerges as a universal language that transcends words, easing pain, offering solace and leaving an enduring legacy of compassion and connection.

Find out more about what we've been up to...

Play in Hospital Week

Play in Hospital Week

Celebrating Play in Hospital Week 2023: Nurturing Creativity and Innovation in Play

 

As October rolls around, we at OPUS Music CIC are thrilled to join hands with hospitals, play teams, and compassionate individuals across the East Midlands and beyond in celebrating Play in Hospital Week. This annual event, taking place from the 9th to the 15th of October, is more than just a reminder—it’s a celebration of the healing power of play.

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul. It gives joy, freedom, contentment, inner and outer rest and peace with the world” – Friedrich Frobel

This year’s theme, ‘Creativity and Innovation in Play,’ is a testament to the resilience of both healthcare providers and children facing daunting challenges. At times, hospitals can be intimidating and overwhelming, and for children the experience and these feelings can be magnified by their vulnerability and a lack of control over their surroundings.

The significance of play in a hospital setting cannot be overstated. Play serves as a powerful escape. It has the remarkable ability to lift a child’s spirits, improve their mental health, and even help babies reach crucial developmental milestones.

Despite its proven benefits, play in hospitals remains a challenge for many institutions across the UK. Children benefit from the therapeutic effects of play, but due to constraints and resource limitations, not all are able to access it. 

This week we are joining the conversation and celebrating the importance of supporting children in hospitals through play and praise the remarkable efforts of the dedicated play teams in hospitals across the East Midlands that we are lucky to work alongside.

Together, we can make sure every child’s hospital journey is filled with creativity, innovation, and the joy of play.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old... we grow old because we stop playing"

George Bernard Shaw

Find out more about what we've been up to...

World Alzheimers Day

The Healing Power Of Music

Transforming Lives During Alzheimer’s Awareness Week

It’s World Alzheimer’s Day and we are joining the conversation sharing stories of resilience, connection, and wellbeing.

Stories of people like Jean, an older lady living with vascular dementia, who found solace in the soothing power of music.


The Impact of Music: Transforming Care Environments

Jean's Story: A Remarkable Encounter with Music

Jean’s story is a testament to the incredible impact that music can have on individuals living with dementia. She would often call out in distress, searching for a connection with her loved ones. However, her story took a heartwarming turn when Mary (our Associate Musician) sat down beside her and offered the gift of music-making.

As Mary played, Jean’s cries of distress gradually softened. The calling out became less agitated, and moments of serenity emerged. What made this experience truly remarkable was the power of a shared voice. When Jean cried out, “God help me!” Mary transitioned the piece into the soothing melody of “Amazing Grace.” As Mary played, Jean began to join in. Singing the last line with clarity, bringing a smile to her face.

Mary played other hymns which provided a welcome distraction as the nurses administered Jean’s medication. A close friend of Jean’s visited, and joined in as they all sang “Amazing Grace” together. Jean mouthed the words along with them, relishing the moment of connection and joy.

The story of Jean is just one example of the profound impact of music on individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. As caregivers and healthcare professionals have observed, music can bring remarkable changes to care environments. 

Music offers the space for connection, it can create a communication without words, reaching neural pathways that fire subconsciously and can ignite memories once forgot.

"A long-standing patient has got great comfort from the music and singing. The patient who has dementia usually gives no eye contact and will just shout out and screw up her face. Today this patient has her eyes open, the most beautiful smile and is humming along to the music. We need more of this on the wards. Today our ward is so calm due to the music. Seeing the positive response by patients has brought a tear to my eye."
Nurse
University Hospital


Take Me As You Find Me: A Song by OPUS Music

In our quest to raise awareness on World Alzheimer’s Day,  we wanted to share our song “Take Me As You Find Me.” You can listen to it here. This song portrays the experiences and emotions of the response to our practice within dementia care. It reminds us of the importance of empathy and understanding.

"It really changes the atmosphere; while they're playing you don't hear all the coughing and beeping; it makes the patients more comfortable. We deal with lots of patients with dementia, and you often see them dancing to the music and playing along. You can learn a lot about a patient's history and find out more about them. It's so important when it comes to individualising care. How can you care for a patient holistically if you don't really know them?"
Nurse
University Hospital


OPUS Music's Commitment to Dementia Care

In addition to our musical contributions in health and care settings, here at OPUS Music we are making a meaningful impact in the community. Thanks to Arts Council Funding, we are running a series of workshops in Bolsover for families living with dementia. Our new team of community musicians are bringing music to families and facilitating music-making sessions that support their health and wellbeing. This initiative exemplifies the positive change that can be achieved through the healing power of music.

As we commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day, let us be inspired by stories like Jean’s, where the simple act of sharing music can bring comfort, connection, and joy to those living with dementia. Music is a powerful tool for transforming care environments and enhancing the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Join us as we continue to explore the healing power of music and work towards a more inclusive and compassionate world for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and the broader initiatives to support individuals with dementia, you can refer to the following resources:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/world-alzheimers-day

https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources

https://www.alzheimers.gov/life-with-dementia/resources-caregivers

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-dementia-resources-for-professionals

Together, we can make a difference and create a more supportive and understanding society for those living with Alzheimer's and dementia.

Calling Ashfield and Bolsover!

Calling Ashfield and Bolsover!

A series of photographs showing a variety of people taking part in music making

We are offering part-time paid roles to two music makers from Bolsover and Ashfield to work alongside the OPUS team to develop music in the community. 

 

We are offering these roles to support a new project from September – December. You could be a singer, play the guitar, drums, or just have good rhythm. No matter your instrument or level of skill, we want to hear from you. 

 

There will be up to five days of development before the project starts in September. You will be required for a series of fifteen two-hour community based sessions from September to December.  Sessions may include music-making in any form, conversations about music, listening to music together, and whatever else the group want or need. 

 

We are looking to work with musicians who feel they may have something to offer to their communities, particularly musicians from communities currently under-represented in their work, including those identifying as from The Global Majority, Disabled or LGBTQIA+ communities, or people who have experienced socio-economic disadvantage. 

 

If you’re interested in finding out more and would like to apply then please get in touch email nick@opusmusic.org or call 07786 157 515

Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2023

Creativity and Wellbeing Week

The 15th to the 21st of May 2023 hosts Creativity and Wellbeing week, and Mental Health Awareness week. We are joining the conversation on mental health and sharing ways in which we support our own mental wellbeing.


For many of us creativity can be a way to express our feelings and boost our mood. This may be through music making, singing, dancing, painting, and a host of other practices. Sometimes it can be the creativity in the world around us that inspires us and offers a space for calm reflection. This week we’re asking, ‘What do you do to support your mental health?’

How are you mindful of your mental health?

Nick

I’m lucky that I live in a place that is surrounded by countryside. From trails cutting through the countryside, often relics of now disused railway lines, to parklands, once open-cast industrial sites now abundant with developing flora and fauna. I’m also lucky that our family includes a walk and water-loving Labrador who gives us the ‘excuse’ to explore these places frequently.

I often find snippets of songs and melodies in my head as I walk. Sometimes I think set off by the rhythmic motion of walking, but often inspired by the surroundings. As those who know me well, I love to make up a lyric about the situation at the drop of a hat, something very useful in our Healthcare Musician practice. The melodies that come into my head usually stay in there for a while, inspired knowingly or sub-consciously by something seen or heard. They are often forgotten by the end of the walk as the next thing becomes more ‘important’, and that’s OK with me. It’s not about any kind of artistic end-result, but the impact of the journey (or the walk in this case). These moments of calm and creative solitude are really important, and often leave me ready to tackle the next challenge, to complete that piece of work that’s been weighing heavily on my mind, or to continue in the creative vein with some music-making. I think our work often creates a space for people to escape into that moment of creative ‘calmness’, so important for our health and wellbeing.

Take One Day

This video, created for our Take One A Day programme towards the end of 2020 was an attempt at capturing the results of this creative inspiration during a walk, before it was lost.  It was inspired by a White Egret who’s rock I borrowed to sit and play out the tune that followed.

Molly

Similarly to Nick, I find music can transport me, and help get my feelings out. I often find myself creatively inspired when I am frustrated, sad, or something eventful has happened. Creating music helps me to work through these emotions and events and make sense of them. I also love putting on my favourite songs in the car, or when I am at home and sing and dance (not in the car!) to boost my mood, and get all that energy out.

Last week I was delighted to receive a video from a patient showing Nick and Rich singing to a newborn. That sharing of music not only supported that family in that moment, but came to me at a time when I really needed it, and totally changed my day. The effect music has on us is amazing. To me, the sharing of music is such a generous and special experience. Although we talk everyday, we forget we can use our voices to sing, and express words with more meaning.

As a sociable person, I love spending time with my friends and family and find that talking through things that are on your mind always helps. Even if it is something very trivial, if you are a happy listening ear, others will often reciprocate. It can be useful to go for a walk and have a chat with a friend. By walking you are mirroring the conversation moving forward, working things out step by step, and hopefully coming to a conclusion by the end. I always try to check in on my friends and family and drop them a text or call to see how they are doing and remind them that someone is thinking about them. Sometimes it is just the acknowledgement that you are there that can help someone when they feel isolated.

Take a Breath

I created this video to help us all take a minute, breathe and be mindful of ourselves and our surroundings in this moment.

 

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness in the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It is often used as a therapeutic technique, and helps calm and reduce stress.

 

Watch the video and find out more about Mindfulness and the ‘STOP’ technique.

Oli

Our mental health today feels more important than ever before to look after, care and nurture it regularly, similar to our practical health considerations. For many of us, the pandemic really challenged our mental health and the stability of wellbeing, with everyone of us navigating a different route through the lockdowns. Whether it be connecting over Zoom or Teams or simply meeting up with our chosen 1 person in which to chat and refresh that sense of belonging. 

For me, as a Healthcare Musician, I really lost that sense of playing for and with patients in real time and in person. However I felt very lucky, being a musician, having the ability to channel my loss of interacting with others into a more creative output of writing pieces of music with different intentions, to share online and hopefully aid someone else’s wellbeing that day. This in turn supported my own wellbeing and mental health too, giving me a sense of purpose again.

I think sometimes it is easy to forget the power music can have on peoples lives everywhere, regardless of whether they are a musician or not. Music can act as a wonderful blanket of comfort in that time of need, whether it be a particular song with powerful lyrics that speaks to you or a particular ear worm tune that you just can’t help but hum or sing. So if there is a particular pressing thought that is pressing on your mind, its always worth turning to your musical blanket to seek some comfort in your own wellbeing and mental health.

Sarah

This musical video was created as part of our work at Hopewood CAMHS unit in Nottingham in Dec 2022, creating online resources for young people to listen to, engage with and perhaps play along to.

I decided to put together a very simple chill-out piece using the instruments (Ukulele, HAPI drum, Xylophone, and Tar Drum) that we usually use in our practice in hospital settings, and also wanted to include soft vocal textures.

The visuals were collected throughout lockdown, as I, like so many, found new things and places to focus my time on, and found great comfort in the natural landscape around me.  Most of them are of outdoor scenes on walks around Derbyshire – some a little further afield when we were allowed to.

I hope the end result is a trance-like piece of music with accompanying scenes that will draw you in. Watch and listen out for the stars of the show – the grouse and the robin! Both the relaxing feel of the music and the chilled pace of nature in the videos is designed to soothe the soul and give you time out for about 6 minutes.  I really hope you enjoy it…

Ben

For me, maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing means knowing when to pause, redirect or stop. Being able to spot the signs of overwhelm, anxiety or stress within yourself and then having something purposeful to do until the feelings pass is essential. I enjoy going for a walk at those times – what works for you?