Loophole Music is a communal music making project at Bethlem Royal Hospital supporting patients’ wellbeing and recovery. Funding from the Maudsley Charity is enabling it to establish a weekly session for inpatients in the Occupational Therapy department, as well as extending their reach onto wards.
Katherine Haigh, the Executive Director of Good Vibrations, the charity which runs the project, says “The funding is helping us develop a really strong foundation at the Hospital. We have been making really good progress on the wards too.”
Empowerment from music making
By using accessible musical instruments and innovative technology, the groups are open to anyone who wants to take part. The facilitators nurture participants’ ideas and creativity, and people of all levels of ability are welcomed, even if someone just wants to sit and listen for a few weeks before joining in.
Kieran Plunkett, a Loophole Music workshop facilitator says “Each Loophole session we do shows us the empowerment that comes from music making. The secret ingredient behind this confidence building exercise is that it is enveloped in fun.”
The sessions provide a stimulating and safe space for self-expression, where participants work together in a small group of likeminded people. The music produced in the sessions is very diverse and a high standard. Once recorded it is made public on the music platform Soundcloud.
Kieran recalls the journey of a particular participant: “There was a young girl who was a very accomplished musician but afraid to perform in front of anyone. By encouraging her to step outside of her comfort zone through learning and support, she eventually sung solo in a carol concert, bought a ukulele and started writing her own compositions.”
Reaching into wards
Loophole Music is the main therapeutic music group operating in the Occupational Therapy department at Bethlem Royal Hospital, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The department also offers Gardening and Pottery workshops that are supported by the Maudsley Charity.
The funding has also allowed the sessions to expand to inpatient wards across the Hospital. This includes several of the wards at River House, enabling forensic patients who aren’t able to leave their units to take part, as well as the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), for young people aged between 12 and 18 years.
Support in the community
For patients leaving the Hospital, they offer a ‘Keeping in Touch’ programme which gives access to opportunities in the community, such as workshops at the Southbank Centre, where they can learn ‘Gamelan’ music, a type of Indonesian percussion.
Watch a short film on Loophole Music:
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