18 November 2008

Vital: Music therapy changes Beth's life

WHEN doctors told Angela Campbell and David Fargher their daughter had cerebral palsy, they were devastated.

But there was another shock to come as a result of her brain injury-which is thought to have been caused by complications at birth - because Beth also had epilepsy.

At first the couple from Hillington, in Glasgow, struggled with Beth's conditions. She used to have up to 100 seizures a day.

Mum Angela, 37, said: "Beth can't sit up, stand, walk or feed herself. She's totally dependent on us. It can be really challenging and difficult at times.

"We go through good and bad spells. When Beth has a seizure it can last several minutes, but fortunately she doesn't know what's happening. I talk to her until she comes round."

But recently Angela, a former employee of Glasgow city council, and David, who works in construction, have seen a big improvement in their daughter.

And that's largely down to her regular music therapy sessions run by Nordoff-Robbins, recommended to them by a friend.

Angela describes the programme as "life-changing".

Both she and David have seen five-year-old Beth develop beyond their expectations since she first started weekly classes in February 2007.

And it is not just wheelchair bound Beth - who now has up to 12 seizures a day - who has benefited. Mum Angela has too.

Under the direction of the charity's music therapist Mary Veal, Beth and Angela play songs together using instruments including guitars and banjos. The mum-of-one, who has given up work to become her daughter's full-time carer, added: "Beth loves listening to music.

"When she's really upset, we play her a song and it calms her down. Her whole face lights up "So we gave Nordoff-Robbins music therapy a try and it really works for her.

"I have noticed a huge difference in Beth, particularly with sensory issues. She didn't used to like to touch or be touched. Now she does, she's focusing more and she follows you around the room.

"She wasn't able to do that before. There is still so much she can't do but she has progressed.

She has come on in leaps and bounds and it's down to the music therapy sessions.

"They have changed the way Beth is and I'd like to thank them for all their help."

One woman partly responsible for Beth's development over the last 20 months is Nordoff-Robbins' music therapist Mary Veal. Angela and David are indebted to Mary for her "patience and perseverance".

Angela added: "Mary has helped us immensely with Beth. She's brilliant at her job and has made a huge difference.

"I owe her a lot. Before we went to the sessions, Beth was upset all the time and wouldn't settle. It was so tiring, but the music sessions have made her a lot calmer.

"To see Beth enjoy something so much has been great."

Mary, head of region for Nordoff-Robbins, said: "We are not there to improve a child's ability to play a musical instrument, we are there to improve their movement and encourage them to have fun.

"Everyone has an inherent ability to respond to music. It motivates and sustains concentration.

"We create an environment so it empowers the parents. They have an opportunity to play with their children and engage with them.

"The best thing is becoming less needed in the sessions, but having the opportunity to share this unique experience."

Nordoff-Robbins, which receives no statutory funding, is to receive a boost this weekend as all proceeds from Saturday's Tartan Clef Awards will go to towards the children's charity's running costs, which top £400,000 each year.

Last year the Awards generated aquarter of that total, and this time organisers are hoping they can smash the £100,000 target.

For more information on Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland and the Tartan Clef Music Awards, log on to www.nordoff-robbins.co.uk or www.tartanclef.org. Donations to the charity can be made by logging on to the website and clicking on 'donations'.

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