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Brass on the Mind

By modefor, Jan 29 2020 11:59AM

Mental Health is coming to the forefront of conversations in bandrooms across the UK thanks to an overwhelming response to the ‘Brass on the Mind… in the Bandroom’ project which I have launched.

The project, is allowing me to visit bandrooms across the UK to raise awareness of mental health, address the language, resilience and support of mental health and wellbeing for our brass band musicians and help bands incorporate better communication, support structures and mental health policies in their organisations.

These sessions are designed as a stepping-stone to mental health awareness courses or the full Mental Health First Aid training and offer an opportunity for the whole band, conductor and non-musical supports to work together in a mental and musical development session which fits in to band’s usual rehearsal time.

Over the course of the two-hour session we work together to look at what mental health is and it’s importance, how to build a strong, resilient, supportive, fun, musical and social environment and how everyone can be a contribution in order to strengthen mental health of ourselves and those around us. I focus on areas such as language, confidence and anxiety through a mixture of conversation, playing music and expert research from mental health professionals, musical, business and sporting philosophers and psychologists.

I’m so delighted that the uptake on the sessions has been overwhelming and the response to me bringing mental health to the forefront of our attention in the brass band movement has been very positive at every level of banding. There has, of course, been some scepticism but this is a good thing as scepticism leads to conversations, awareness and education for all of us and that is what this is about; making more people aware of the benefits of good mental health, after all, we all have mental health.

I tailor the sessions for each band and they work as a stand-alone session or as part of pre-competition development. Contests have a massive impact on mental health so in the sessions we focus not just on the music the band is preparing, but how to prepare our minds for better confidence and performance skills. Just like athletes who spend a lot of time strengthening their mental fitness as well as physical fitness, in bands we need to focus not on just what we’re performing but how we perform. As such, I’m really looking forward to working with some bands ahead of the Regional Brass Band Championships to bring a different approach and perspective to their competitive development.

With no official funding in place yet for mental health support in brass bands, Mode for… is subsiding many sessions in order to bring this valuable information bandrooms across the UK so drop me a message to find out more and let’s create something great in your bandroom, whatever ‘section’ you are in. This is vital for everyone.

Bookings are available throughout the year, with some sessions still available ahead of the Regional Brass Band Championships, so why not try something different for your Area prep?

Much Love

Tabby xxx

By modefor, Dec 18 2019 10:27AM

I'm totally delighted to let you know that our first ever CD on the Mode for... label, 'Lago - The Music of Simon Kerwin' has made the shortlist of nominations for the 4barsrest CD of the Year.

It's listed alongside some amazing other recordings, but the CD that honours Simon's musical legacy and supports cancer patients at The Bexley Wing at St. James' Hospital Leeds, brilliantly performed by the Rothwell Temperance Band under the guidance of David Roberts and expertly recorded by KMJ Recordings as found favour from the hundreds of albums recorded this year.

The results will be revealed on Christmas Day so fingers crossed, but I'm truly humbled and delighted for the nomination.

You can check out the full list of nominations at https://4barsrest.com/articles/2019/1844.asp

By modefor, Nov 5 2019 11:23AM

*** 𝟚 𝔻𝕒𝕪𝕤 𝕋𝕠 𝔾𝕠 *** 𝕄𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕔 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕒𝕡𝕪 ***

… until the release of the new CD ‘Lago – The Music of Simon Kerwin’

As well as being a great way to honour and celebrate the musical legacy of my husband Simon, this album of music has a much greater and wider purpose.

‘Lago’ is Italian for Lake. In 2012 Simon and I bought our Italian home, a houseboat called ‘Canto del Lago’ on Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Italy. It was our very happy place and still is. It is home. It is a large, impressive, calming pool of water that has beauty, peace and inspiration. Simon and I were at our most creative there and it is the resting place of his heart and soul and where I can recalibrate my own mental health and creativity.

Track 2 on the album shares the same name of our house ‘Canto del Lago’ and as you have a listen to this preview HERE and look at the album cover image of the lake itself, you get a sense of this calm.

That is the power of music. It can be a healing and powerful force on our mental wellbeing and mental and physical health and making our mental heath a priority is vital.

This album is designed to bring you a sense of mindfulness, wellbeing and reflection. To enjoy the music in a way that calms your mind and reaches your heart through many emotions.

This album is also for the cancer patients who walk in to the Bexley Wing, Leeds Cancer Centre at St. James’ Hospital where Simon was treated and died. Not only can you use the music as an emotional release and use the cover image to visualise a calming, happy place where troubles drift away on the breeze, you can rest assured that from the sale of this recording, a donation has been made via Jacqui’s Million fund directly for the welfare of the patients to make your experience as comfortable as it can be.

I’m also delighted that on 7th November, the official launch of the CD, we will be presenting the Bexley Wing with 9 personal CD players and copies of the CD to be used on three of the chemotherapy wards where Simon and Jacqui of Jacqui’s Million received and continue to receive treatment.

This is so the music of Simon and the fabulous playing of Rothwell Temperance Band can be used as a therapy for patients to enjoy as they receive treatment; to hopefully be a calming distraction as the chemotherapy does its work.

This is more than just a brass band CD; this is music doing its thing in the powerful way that it can for a good cause, therapy and better mental health.

To purchase your copy go to www.modeforpublishing.com

A donation from sales goes to the Leeds Cancer Centre, St. James’ Hospital via Jacqui’s Million Fund.

No single one of us can make cancer go away, but together, we can be a contribution to making a difference.

Much Love

Tabby xxx

For more information on mental health in brass bands check out the section on this website.

By modefor, Oct 23 2019 05:36AM

by Ben Roberts

Knowing that someone is there to provide emotional support during exam season is beyond valuable.

Unfortunately, in the modern world, social restraints are commonplace. 95% of children aged 13-18 use social media. Riddled with pressures and expectations to meet, it can often be a cause of anxiety and depression.

With parents habitually using the different platforms, it would be condescending of me to identify the dangers of social media, as I’m sure all parents are aware of such risks and are proactive in warning their children about them, or at least I hope so.

Of course, I use social media. As an 18-year-old school leaver it is almost unavoidable which does beg the question; is experiencing anxiety from social media inevitable?

This is why the social restraints surrounding the younger generation, who ultimately are uneducated about social media, are harrowing. The pressures from school on top of this can often leave students feeling inconsequential. Maintaining their wellbeing is paramount. But, here are some reasons why it is so difficult to balance a positive mind with relentless studies:

- Fear

- Anxiety

- Stress

- School expectations

‘I can’t go in there, I’ve forgotten everything’.

Don’t get me wrong, it is normal to feel anxious and stressed when exam season comes around. As a GCSE student in 2017, and an A-level student in 2019, I am aware of the immense fear that is instilled in students across the country when the term, ‘exam’, is even mentioned.

The exam hall is a terrifying place. I am sure it has been that way for many years, even spanning back to when O-levels were introduced in the 1950s. Yet, the desire to succeed within the students of this generation can sometimes allow them to overcome the fear of the exam hall. But it can also break them.

It is often argued whether the stress of carrying the pressures of making your parents proud, getting a job and achieving your target grades are worth it for a single letter or number on a piece of paper. Dedicating so much of your time and effort to make the school look better so their intake of pupils will increase, and to ultimately increase their position on the league table of schools in your area. Teachers feel pressured too. A senior body monitors them so they achieve certain grades within their class. With no intention to transfer such stress over to their students, they do all they can to mask the fear of losing their job. But, sometimes it is impossible to prevent fear from spreading.

Because of this, students are left feeling helpless minutes before sitting their exam. Echoing down school corridors is the age-old phrase of, ‘I can’t go in there, I’ve forgotten everything’. This shouldn’t be the case.

The anxiety and fear of failure takes over all the knowledge of the subject the student possesses. Having experienced the stress of exams myself, and witnessed it amid my peers, more than ever, I feel the mental health of students needs to be monitored to try and prevent many students feeling this way. A correlation with positive mental health and high achieving students is evident and supported by a recent study by ‘The Guardian’, it is clear that a healthy mind ultimately gives a child a better chance of a stronger academic performance. In other words, controlling the pressures in life is beneficial for a student’s education. But how do we do that?

I am in no position to offer psychological advice. However, I do hope I can provide an insight into the life of a student during exams and hopefully help at least one student feel a little more confident when walking towards that exam hall with their pencil case in hand.

Tips for students

- Sleep. Staying up late revising is not productive. It is crucial to have at least 8 hours sleep throughout school, not just exam season. Peak performance capability is increased because of this, and ultimately you feel replenished.

- Manage your time. Never leave it until the night before. From experience, this causes more worry and you can never work to your full capability when you are rushing.

- Listen to your teachers. As students, as much as we may think teachers are there to give us a hard time and ruin our lives, it’s not the case. Their job is to help us, even though they do set a lot of homework! The positives of homework regarding self-initiative and time management are overshadowed by the nationwide ‘sigh’ when the work is set.

- It’s not the time spent on revision, it’s how effective the time is used. Ensure plenty of breaks; make revision productive and as fun as possible! It’s often easy to listen to the teacher’s proposed revision techniques and run with it. But I recommend experimenting with different methods; find what works for you.

- Relax. Try your hardest, and of course complete all work set by teachers. However, running yourself into the ground with complicated revision schedules and consuming a countless number of energy drinks is not healthy.

Do not be afraid to talk about feeling low or stressed. Support is there whenever you need it. Whether it is a friend, a teacher or even a family member, someone will listen to you. Do not suffer in silence.

I guess I was lucky in the sense that I have supportive parents who were able to identify when I was feeling the pressure from school. They were able to talk to me and help me overcome the stress which I was experiencing.

As a parent, do not be overwhelmed by a mass of post-it notes scattered across the bedroom and even in the downstairs loo during exam season.

This is the norm! In other words, resist from tidying!

Encouragement is welcome, but persistence can irritate.

Encouraging healthy eating is vital, but a few treats motivate.

Celebrations should commence once exams are over, they deserve it!

In no way do I want to patronise parents out there, but these are just a few signs to look out for regarding stress in students according to the NHS:

- Immense worry, regardless of the situation.

- Headaches and stomach pains.

- Loss of appetite.

- Becoming irritable.

A harrowing study by the NHS stated that as of 2018 39% of UK students suffer from at least one mental illness.

Parents and carers who are able to encourage their child to talk about their mental health are more likely to be a continuous support system for their child, meaning they will be less likely to isolate their feelings to the solitude of their bedroom. Knowing that someone is there to provide emotional support during exam season is beyond valuable.

Whether you are a parent, teacher or a student, school is tough! Believe me. However, controlling the pressures and learning how to deal with the intensity of school whilst not being afraid to talk about it, will leave you feeling equipped to take on the challenges you inevitably will face. You’ve got this!

Credit: Gov.uk – A levels and GCSEs
Credit: Gov.uk – A levels and GCSEs

By modefor, Jul 12 2019 01:34PM

On Saturday 20th July, Mode for's... Tabby, will present the findings of a new report into the current state of mental health in brass bands at the esteemed Brass International Festival in Durham.

The report, published by Mode for… is based on a survey instigated by Tabby earlier this year which was designed to give an overview of the effect that being in brass bands can have on mental health.

Tabby explained: “There is no doubt and plenty of evidence which shows that music and making music in groups can be incredibly good for wellbeing, however, with the statistics according to the charity ‘Mind’ that 1 in 4 adults are suffering from mental health issues and based on my own personal experiences of mental health I wanted to look further into the direct connection that playing in brass bands has on mental health.”

“In 2016, Help Musicians UK, the leading independent charity for musicians in the UK, commissioned Sally Anne Gross and Dr. George Musgrave, MusicTank / University of Westminster to conduct a study into the mental health issues faced by musicians and the wider music industry as part of its MAD (Music and Depression) campaign. Whilst this covered a wide demographic of 2211 musicians it did not specifically focus on the medium of brass bands. That survey found that musicians may be up to three times more likely to suffer from depression compared to the general public.”

“The intention of this survey was to see if musicians specifically in the brass band movement suffered the same mental health issues as musicians in the wider music industry and to see if the statistics correlated, with a view to implementing necessary information, support and mental health provisions into the brass band movement,” confirmed Tabby.

“The findings did marry up and it is evident that due to the competitive and volatile environment of the brass band movement, many brass band musicians are suffering from mental ill health. Now, with this evidence, I want to research further and more importantly develop more information and support for musicians within the brass band movement. Recently I trained as a mental health first aider and I am keen to spread that knowledge and awareness of mental health issues so they are commonplace in bandrooms. There is a high percentage of brass band musicians suffering from nerves, anxiety, panic attacks and depression but of our survey sample of 328 respondents, only 1.5% of the bands they are in membership of have any kind of mental health provision. Mental health is more important than physical health in many ways and we need greater awareness to support each other and, ultimately, look after our brass band musicians so we can keep the brass band movement strong.”

“It has always been and still is awkward to talk about mental health, but these are awkward conversations I am not afraid to start and share my experiences to help other people, which is why mental health, with a focus on musicians and brass bands is becoming the focal point and priority for myself and everything we do at Mode for…”

The presentation on this report, when Tabby will be joined by other speakers to discuss wellbeing for brass musicians, forms part of the festival’s Healthy Brass Day at 4pm on Saturday 20th July at Elvet Riverside, Durham University.

To read the full report and report summary, visit www.modefor.co.uk

Focussing on all things mental health in the brass band movement.