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Fish, Chips and Heavy Metal Music

I was browsing on-line recently when I came across an article which claimed that the number of community choirs in the UK is now greater than the number of Fish and Chip shops. I was amused to read this because as all my friends know, I like food almost as much as I love music and ‘Fish and Chips’ just happens to be my favourite takeaway treat.

fishchips1This comparison between numbers of choirs and ‘chippies’ can of course be taken one of two ways. I was pretty certain that the point being made was that more and more choirs are being formed following a spate of popular singing-related TV programmes such as ‘The Choir that Rocks’ and ‘Last Choir Standing’, but there was a part of me that wondered whether it was implying that the good old British Chip Shop was fast disappearing from our streets. Taking this as a good excuse to do my own market research, I visited my local ‘Friendly Fisheries’ and in no time my concerns had vanished, along with the portion of fish, chips and mushy peas that I’d bought for my lunch.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that I have a passion for both music and food. After all, whilst food nourishes the body, music is often said to nourish the soul. In the words of Beethoven, ‘Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.’ This similarity appears to extend even further, especially if we look at recent trends in food and music.

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Lenny the Lego King

Lego_ManLenny was a ten year old boy who was the oldest of four children. The family’s Health Visitor noted his delayed development and communication impairment when he was two years old and Lenny was subsequently seen by a variety of professionals and submitted to repeated episodes of intervention in an endeavour to effect some improvement with limited success. Hopeful beginnings rapidly deteriorated into disillusionment and non cooperation.

Lenny’s negative behaviour had escalated until school became a place of containment rather than learning. This negative spiralling eventually resulted in his exclusion from school at the age of ten and a home tutor was appointed for ten hours a week. At the time of Lenny’s referral to me, the home tutor had established a good and trusting relationship with Lenny’s parents but her pre planned structured teaching approach with Lenny was failing miserably. His speech was virtually unintelligible; he continued to explore objects by putting them in his mouth and chewed pencils and other inedible items. Lenny’s home tutor was endeavouring to establish a relationship with him through play but needed help and advice to do this. She readily agreed to my offer of training and supervision, which included a joint hour with Lenny every three weeks.

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Keeping It Simple!

Candle

There are aids to meditation, which may help people to relax and find a calm place within. Candles, incense, a special corner of a room, music, lighting and aromatherapy oils can all help to create a space and a mood for meditation.  Flowers, pictures, objects and crystals are often used to good effect.

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Lyre Playing to the Animals

I often have my lyre with me when travelling around Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England and enjoy playing music to the animals I meet on the journey.

One day, I approached a field of horses with their young foals.

Horses and foals 1

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Forget about your voice – just sing!

boys-choir-singing-_667785c1

Birds do it!  Angels do it!
Even dolphins and whales do it!
Let’s do it, let’s SING A SONG!

Forgive me for taking liberties with a classic Cole Porter lyric but I had a sudden realisation a few days ago. I was listening to a Todd Rundgren song from the 1970’s which I often used to sing along to in my younger days. As those memories came back, it gradually dawned upon me that I couldn’t remember the last time that I‘d sung out loud. It certainly wasn’t just a few days before and could even have been several weeks – I had no idea when I last took a breath, filled my lungs and sang!

I found this realisation to be quite disturbing because for so much of my life, singing was something of a habit for me. Indeed my earliest memory is of singing “Champion the Wonder Horse” in a packed church. Actually, that’s not quite correct. What I really sang was “Champion the Wonder…. OW!!” as my performance was interrupted by a slap across the knees from my Mum; it was her way of letting me know that Sunday Mass at St. Bernard’s church was neither the time nor the place to sing TV theme tunes.

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The Three Noble Strains of Irish Harp Music

Irish HarpThe Harp
Healer of each wounded warrior,
Comforter of each fine woman,
Guiding refrain over the blue water,
Image-laden, sweet-sounding music!

From The Book of the O’Connor Don

In Celtic mythology, we’re told about The Dagda (the Good god of the Gaelic gods) who was a king within the fairy race known as the Tuatha de Danann.  The Dagda had a magical and enchanting harp, which he took everywhere and which would come to him when he called.

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A Midsummer Meditation

Mid SummerAn Irish Blessing

 

When the first light of sun – Bless you.
When the long day is done – Bless you.
In your smiles and your tears – Bless you.
Through each day of your years – Bless you.

 

 

The Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is known by many names, including Midsummer and Litha in the Celtic tradition.  It occurs on or around 21st June in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is the longest day and shortest night and occurs when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23°26’.  In the Northern Hemisphere, this is when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer.

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Ribbons of Light ~ Global Peace Meditation

Ribbons-of-Light“Nothing happens until something moves.”
Albert Einstein

Ribbons of Light is a project which connects individuals all over the globe to a weekly meditation focus, providing an opportunity for people to come together, wherever they may be and to focus a collective energy of peace through meditation. Science now confirms that positive thought affects environment. The effect is magnified when this is done with a collective focus and repeated.

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Creative Play with Finbar

DragonMy work in Ireland introduced me to some amazingly creative children. One of them was a little boy called Finbar. I only saw him twice but he taught me that children are able to quickly gain what they need in a space free from judgement and expectation with a variety of versatile props to allow them to express themselves creatively.

Finbar was seven years old, the only child of parents who lived in a cottage deep in the Irish countryside.  Finbar’s mother was a healer who used alternative therapies and astrology to solve her difficulties in life. She was warmly expressive and colourfully dressed with long dark hair and olive skin. Finbar’s father was gentle voiced of slight build with long wispy hair which fell onto his collar. At home and school, Finbar refused to sit on the toilet and refused to have his hair cut. In a previous interview his mother told me that she was concerned about Finbar’s preference for girlish things and desire to play the female role and he had difficulty maintaining friendships because of his toilet phobia and soiling.

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Yellow for Hope: Working with Jim

Dandelion 1Jim had learning disabilities and lived in a Residential Home with five other men. He was in his early fifties and was referred to me with anxiety and depression in the hope that I could discover what was causing his unhappiness. Jim had a very limited vocabulary of single words.  A word he used continuously was Tuesday and to Jim everyday was Tuesday.

His care-staff were concerned because he was exhibiting what they termed ‘bizarre behaviour’. They told me that when no one was watching, Jim would slip out into the back garden, pull the heads off the weeds and put them into a plastic carrier bag. He would then thrust his head into the bag to seemingly examine them more closely.

I decided to observe this behaviour first hand, in an attempt to gain some understanding of what was going on. Observation revealed that the weeds Jim was selecting were dandelions.  When he had gathered enough dandelion heads, he put his head into the bag and kept it there for about ten seconds.

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