Supporting Music Therapy in Cornwall

by CMST Music Therapy Team in Truro, England, United Kingdom

Supporting Music Therapy in Cornwall
We did it
On 12th July 2019 we successfully raised £1,250 with 42 supporters in 59 days

To support our ongoing work whilst also helping us to offer subsidised sessions to hidden and hard to reach members of Cornwall's community.

by CMST Music Therapy Team in Truro, England, United Kingdom

What are we raising money for?

As well as helping us support ongoing projects, we also wish to start new projects up with your donations.

These include:

  • Offering free initial sessions to Primary and secondary schools that need more support for children at risk of exclusion and that have been identified as having complicated mental health that isn't currently being supported by CAHMS or other providers. 
  • Using widely recognised and researched musical tools to help people with Dementia and Alzheimer's maintain their independence, give them therapeutic support and live their lives to the full whilst in hospital or long term care, particular at Treliske.
  • Some money will go towards Music Therapy at 'Sowena' the new young persons mental health setting in Bodmin.

How are we raising money?

Part of our fundraising effort this year is ‘Music and Mayhem’ a family friendly, inclusive event with music and games for everyone. Alongside the usual Giant Jenga and Connect Four games there will also be art activities, Indian Dance from Charlotte at InspirAsian and music from local acts Jordon Jane and Black-eyed Nancy, a group of very talented students from Carrick Wind Band and internationally renowned folk bands Davey & Dyer and Teyr. 

Tickets are available via our 'rewards' for your donation or for £5 per person on the day (Carers and under 10s are free). Please make sure you tick the 'I would like to receive updates about this project' box so we can stay in touch with you about the tickets and rewards.

Who are we?

We each drive to our places of work across the county with a bootload of music instruments.  We work with a huge variety of people including children who have suffered trauma, are adopted, in foster care or finding life challenging and those with learning disabilities.  We work with adults with dementia.  We work in special schools, hospitals, care homes, mainstream schools and adult mental health organisations.  We use music to engage those with autism, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, depression, attachment disorders and any other challenge they may face.  

These people are struggling with underfunding and a lack of visibility and so we want to use our fundraising to offer them more affordable access to music therapy.

What is Music Therapy?

The healing properties of music are universally recognised. The profession of music therapy uses evidence-based practice to utilise music and musical elements in therapeutic work. 

Sessions are delivered by state-registered Music Therapists who have all completed a post graduate qualification in music therapy and are required to have ongoing clinical supervision and professional development to maintain their registration. 

It is a person-centred approach which uses musical play to help people explore their feelings in a gentle and understanding way, in their own time. The aim is always to help them live their life with confidence and resilience so they can reach their potential.

Cornwall Music Service Trust, supported by Cornwall Music Therapy Trust are both charities whose main aim is to help people live their best lives through music.

Our Stories

Hi, I'm Emma and I work mostly in schools with children who find education really challenging, have traumatic backgrounds and low self esteem and confidence.

Through music therapy we play, sing and dance together developing a better understanding of emotions, their effects and developing the confidence to feel secure in a world full of difficulties and terrors. 

Here's an example...

Nick (name changed to preserve his privacy) spent much of his first few years at school trying to escape, bouncing out of his seat, never settling and getting into lots of fights with his classmates, friends and the teachers. When I met him he was so anxious he had to control every part of his world both inside the classroom and our sessions. He would order the instruments, check to make sure they were in the same place each week and spend a lot of time picking them up and putting them down. 

Gradually, through playing music together, I could support him to trust his own instincts and help him to see that his own individual music was the best thus helping him gain confidence. He began to be more settled and to play games, both musical and otherwise, with me. He stopped fighting as much, started reading and became calmer, able to understand some of his emotions and why he reacted in the way he did. 

Now, he is catching up with his peers educationally, has enormous empathy for children he believes are 'just like I was' (to a point where he is referring them to me) and has stopped trying to escape school. Sometimes he even enjoys being there. 


I provide music therapy once a week at our regional neonatal unit (NNU), which has capacity for twenty babies.

NNU’s can be stressful and disruptive places for families. Studies tell us that mothers separated from premature babies at birth are more likely to be affected by postnatal depression; a condition that can have long lasting negative effects on infants impacting attachment and behaviour as children grow older. I approach work with this foremost in my mind, especially in light of current national emphasis on perinatal mental health.

The aim of the NNU music therapy programme is to offer live, participatory lullaby singing for families to help reduce anxiety and promote bonding by supporting emotional attunement between family members and babies. This aim was developed to fit with the family-centred ethos of the unit and the evidence based developmental nursing care approach employed on the unit that optimises the neurodevelopmental environment for premature babies. The latter determines the type of lullabies I offer, the instruments I use, the gestational age of babies offered music therapy, the duration of music therapy etc. The former principle requires me to be flexible and inclusive – fitting in with families and their schedules and tasks as they spend time on the NNU. 

A typical day at work may involve mothers and/or other family members being supported with up to three known or suggested (and carefully selected) infant-directed lullabies with simple guitar accompaniment while having kangaroo time with their baby. Frequently rocking or humming is easier than singing for mums during the early days with a premature or unwell baby. All watch their babies closely noticing, and ascribing affect, to their baby’s response. Many mothers use the opportunity to talk, and express emotion, about their (frequently traumatic) birth experience. Older babies undergoing painful procedures may be soothed with a lullaby or soft percussion. 

The results of an evaluation of the project showed that music therapy is appreciated by staff and families alike; many respondents citing that they found it calming and supportive in terms of emotional expression and connection.

Hello I'm Liz. I am a music therapist and professional lead for CMST Music Therapy Service. The clinical work I do takes place on the children's wards at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, for one afternoon each week, and each week I am inspired by seeing how music can connect with people, help them relax and invite them to be playful and expressive even when they are unwell. I work alongside the hospital school so my main contacts on the ward are the hospital school teachers. When I arrive at lunchtime I spend some time chatting with them to find out who is on the ward that day and who could potentially benefit from some time participating in a music therapy session. Once I have a list of people my next challenge is to make the best possible use of the short time I am there, working around other medical professionals, patients feeling too unwell, needing sleep, or spending time with their visitors. Often parents, siblings and other family and friends join in with making music that we do. The main aim for me is to use my time as well as I can.

Some of my favourite sessions are when I work with a young child at their bedside and as they are not in their own room, other children on the bay hear the music, see the instruments, and start indicating that they would quite like to join in too. Last week I had an impromptu session with two almost 2 year-old children, who were well enough to be waiting for their prescriptions before going home later that day. They were both bored and a bit fed up waiting, time in hospital involves a lot of waiting! We had a lot of fun banging drums and strumming a ukulele. 

I do also work with children who are very unwell and less able to join in, then music therapy becomes more receptive. It can be very hard to relax in hospital, when what your body needs most is rest and sleep, so you can fight an infection. The activity on a busy ward, noise and light means that switching off can be hard. There are times when I am working with a young person who can't move very much and is agitated through tiredness and lack of sleep when after a few minutes of gentle guitar playing I feel the quietness of sleep enter the room and tiptoe quietly out the door! 

I'm Mike and I am currently working in various primary schools in Cornwall. The children I work with have a wide range of difficulties. Several children have Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. Other children are on the autistic spectrum and with sensory issues. Some of the children have experienced severe trauma in their early childhood greatly affecting their ability to learn and cope in a school environment.

For those children with profound disabilities the relationship fostered through music has allowed individuals to broaden and deepen their abilities to communicate and engage, increasing their focus and attention. As Music Therapy works with an individual's movement and gestures as well as play, it has allowed the children to gain confidence by leading and conducting sessions which is rare in their everyday lives. One individual always attends even when upset in class and relishes the opportunity  to express themselves powerfully and cathartically in music. Another individual who was always tired and unresponsive is now always alert and motivated. The more able children have been equally well-motivated to attend Music Therapy even when they refuse to join in with all other school activities! The ability of music to allow safe and creative expression of some destructive feelings, within a trusting relationship, has helped these children cope better with their feelings and engage more positively with their peers.

Ben (name changed to protect his privacy) is a young man with autism who has been struggling to transition to a new school. His parents have tried to involve him in a few gentle fun after school activities, but he soon became upset and had to leave and his parents were becoming worried that he'd soon become anxious just arriving. As Ben responds positively to music I set up some Music Therapy sessions at the school. Although tentative and uncertain at first, once Ben came into the room he soon relaxed and was keen to explore instruments. Over the course of a few weeks Ben became much more relaxed about coming to school, excited by his 'music time'. As our relationship has grown Ben has become more confident and bold, leading our games and interactions and increasingly expressing himself positively through music, as well as starting to use a lot more language. In parallel Ben is also more confident and relaxed in the school and is now able to spend time familiarising himself with and exploring his new class and playground. Funding will run out this summer and your donations will help sessions continue in the autumn to help support Ben as he integrates into the school full-time.

Hello Im Carine. 

I currently have a wide range of work which I love as I enjoy working with a variety of age groups and needs. I work in special educational settings with young people with profound disabilitites and Autism, Early years work in the Child Development Centre for children who are in the early stages of a diagnosis or who have shown signs of developmental delay, Some children in mainstream settings that may be struggling with mental health or general well being, ARB classes within schools for children with additional needs, Adults with Autism in their own homes and within a Dementia care ward in Bodmin Hospital.

I particularly enjoy my work within the field of Dementia and am still left humbled by the profound effects music can have on the health of the patients there. I have witnessed patients who are isolated join a social group and engage in shared songs, patients who are distressed and agitated calm and listen, patients who struggle to form words sing along to familiar songs, patients who find walking difficult improve their gait to a rhythmic pulse and much more. I have been reduced to tears when a patient who had been a wonderful pianist in his youth joined me at the keyboard and played from memory moments after being confused and distressed and unable to express his feelings verbally. He smiled at me and was then able to talk with me and request a song that we both sang.

I run 2 open groups a week and see individuals when appropriate. Staff on the ward have often commented to me how much difference they see and feel on the ward during and after our sessions.

With more funding I would love to offer music therapy support to a wider range of mental health needs including the new CAMHS unit in Bodmin hospital "Sowenna", working alongside GP surgeries to plug the gap of people with depression and anxiety whilst they await referrals, adult mental health settings within the NHS and many more. The level of need in Cornwall is high and we have alot to offer !


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

£20 or more

Pledge £20 or more and you will receive a family ticket to our fundraiser ‘Music and Mayhem’ (up to four people - carers and under 10's are free) and be added to the list of supports on the CMST website. Please make sure you tick the 'I would like to receive updates regarding this project and it's progress' box so we can contact you about the tickets.

£5 or more

You made it happen!

You have our grateful thanks.

£10 or more

You made it happen!

You will receive 2 tickets to our fundraiser and be added to a list of ‘supporters’ on the Cornwall Music Service Trust website. Please make sure you tick the 'I would like to receive updates regarding this project and it's progress' box so I can contact you about the tickets.

£50 or more

£50 or more

This pledge will entitle you to receive a family ticket (up to four people - Carers and under 10's are free) and one of our Therapists will come and talk to an organisation group of your choice about Music Therapy. Please make sure you tick the 'I would like to receive updates regarding this project and it's progress' box so we can contact you about the tickets.

£100 or more

£100 or more

This pledge will entitle you to receive a family ticket (up to 4 people - carers and under 10's are free) and a free session of Music Therapy for yourself or one other person (10 of these are available). Please make sure you tick the 'I would like to receive updates regarding this project and it's progress' box so we can contact you about the tickets.

£250 or more

£250 or more

If you pledge this generous amount you will receive a family ticket (up to four people + carers, children under 10 are free). Have your logo or name on the CMST website as a supporter. A Music Therapist will also conduct a group session with a group you can nominate (5 available based on suitability and best needs of the group). Please tick the 'I would like to receive updates regarding this project and it's progress' box so we can contact you.

£500 or more

£500 or more

You will receive a family ticket (4 people - carers and under 10's are free), be considered a Benefactor in Perpetuity and have your name or logo added to the CMST website. Please make sure you tick the 'I would like to receive updates regarding this project and its progress' box so we can contact you about the tickets and reward.

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