What have you been doing today?
I’ve just returned from leave after my summer break and have been catching up with Freya, our UK Programme Coordinator, about our upcoming Interactive Music-Making programme for early years practitioners. We have been reviewing the applications for places on the course and finalising preparations for the course, which starts in a couple of weeks.
We’ve also recently released an initiative to increase our work with adults with learning disabilities in the UK, and together we’ve been assessing the new partnership enquiries we’ve been receiving as a result. It’s always exciting to think about new projects but it’s particularly heartening to be hearing how they hope to develop the care they offer given the impact COVID has had for them.
I then turned my attention to our International Programme with Makeda, our International Programme Coordinator. I will be travelling to Romania soon to deliver part of our Distance Learning Programme, so we were discussing the logistics of this and finalising the practical workshops and training we have planned. Makeda also updated me on the progress of our Partners in Rwanda, who have started delivering their own training to local care providers, and various activities she’s been co-ordinating to provide support to our Partners in Georgia and developing a new online training for caregivers for people living with dementia in India.
Critical to making our projects happen is the work of our Fundraising Manager, Richard, so I then caught up with him about some recent successes he’s had with new ways of eliciting support from our charity ambassadors. We’ve recently launched a fundraising appeal for our work in India and getting the ball rolling for The Big Give Christmas Campaign, which will support our work in Ethiopia.
Last but not least I had a meeting with Lotte, our Administrator, who keeps everything ticking behind the scenes. She updated me on the recent Annual Return to the Charity Commission, a major annual governance requirement, and her work preparing our financial admin for next year.
Is that a typical day for you?
Yes, in that my days are very varied because my involvement in our projects takes me to a number of different countries in any given day (figuratively speaking!). But, as I’ve literally just come back to work after a break I have been doing more “catching up” and less of the direct working with Project Partners, new care settings interested in projects, our Advisory Panel and project contributors - or the kind of strategic planning that also normally features in my working days. That said, we are currently thinking about recruiting to our Board of Trustees and bringing a Team Assistant into the team, as well as beginning to think about how our activities this year will feed into our plans for 2022, so I’m always holding the bigger picture for the charity in mind whatever I’m doing.
When did you start working with culture, health, and wellbeing, and how?
I have always been interested in the role of music for people facing challenges in their lives, having had the privilege of a music education myself and since discovering music therapy when I was a teenager. My teens were spent volunteering in a number of different places where I had the chance to explore the relevance of music within care and this led me to set up Music as Therapy in 1995 and to train as a music therapist myself. The charity’s origins are in Romania, specifically providing music therapy skill-sharing to the carers of vulnerable children and young people in its infamous orphanages. Since then, in response to requests from other places, we expanded internationally and eventually into the UK, when there was a clear identifiable need for our approach on home soil. So, I guess I have always worked with music and wellbeing, although our skill-sharing work in the UK came later - our UK programme was only fully established in 2016.
What was the last project you came across that inspired you?
We are currently working to develop an online training tool for caregivers of people living with dementia in India. This was requested by the Director of Heritage Care in Hyderabad, but as soon as I received her request for help I immediately remembered an inspiring online course I’d seen developed by Katarina Lindblad in Sweden a number of years ago: Mötas i Musik. We are incredibly grateful that Katarina and Svenskt Demenscentrum (who host the Swedish course) were willing for us to draw on their materials to develop our own course, tailored to the local context in India. After two years of development we are reaching the point when it will be piloted in Hyderabad and then, hopefully, rolled out more widely in India.
Alexia Quin is a professional music therapist who founded Music as Therapy International and has pioneered the music therapy skill-sharing approach in the UK. As Director, Alexia has steered the charity from its original focus in Romania to working in other countries internationally and across the UK. She continues to be actively involved in the delivery of our projects around the world and regularly teaches, supervises and presents her work.
In recognition of her international work, Alexia was presented with the World Federation of Music Therapy Advocate of Music Therapy Award (2017) for major contributions to the promotion of music therapy in areas of the world where the profession is less established. Alexia was also a member of the Commission which examined the role of music within the care and treatment of people living with dementia (2018). Alexia was awarded an OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021, in recognition of her contribution to music therapy.
Alongside her work for the charity, Alexia worked as a music therapist in the NHS for 15 years with a clinical specialism of working with children with severe learning disabilities, including complex needs, emotional difficulties and challenging behaviour.