An insight into the work of music therapist, Anna Ludwig
In 2006 I qualified as a music therapist from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. 15 years prior to this I was one of the last students to graduate from the London College of Music in its home near Carnaby Street. It was while at the LCM I first heard about music therapy but it wasn’t until much later in life that I had the understanding, time, money and support to go back to college and study music therapy at post graduate level. For me, it was a very exciting and often daunting challenge but it was the best career move I’ve ever made.
My main area of work has always been working with adults and children with life limiting or life threatening illnesses. I was employed as a music therapist in a hospice in Luton for adults and children for 6 years prior to moving home to Scotland in 2012 and starting my own business, Harperhall Music Therapy. I now work freelance for a couple of charities on a regular basis and take on a few projects in other fields now and then when they arise (for example dementia care, learning difficulties, brain injury rehabilitation). Music, as you know, reaches so many people on so many levels and is accessible to all.
So what do I actually do?! All my sessions, whether individual or group, are patient led. This could involve improvisation using a variety of tuned and/or untuned instruments, song-writing, reminiscing, listening to pre-composed music with someone, relaxation, stimulation, singing, crying, laughing, sharing and supporting. Clients are referred for a variety of reasons in my area of work including, anxiety, low mood, isolation, difficulty expressing themselves verbally, diversion, relaxation or stimulation. I also hold an advanced certificate in Neurologic Music Therapy which gives me a set of tools to work in a more directive way to help, for example, people with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease with their gait using a technique called Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation. All sessions are usually on a weekly basis and can last up to an hour each.
The bulk of my work is carried out at Kilbryde Hospice in East Kilbride near Glasgow and for The Team Jak Foundation, a children’s cancer charity in Livingston, near Edinburgh. At Kilbryde Hospice I currently provide individual and group sessions for adult patients, family members or carers. On top of my music therapy caseload, I also run the Kilbryde Community Choir. For the Team Jak Foundation, I am supporting children with cancer and their siblings and often spend my Friday afternoons using music to help children “escape” from their on-going treatment; last week I was a rather splendid pirate, singing and sailing on a sofa ship whilst being saved from crocodiles by a 3 year old with cancer!
I am continually promoting the use of music therapy; in 2016 I presented my work at the York Festival of Ideas and at the British Association of Music Therapy conference in Glasgow. In February 2017 I had a short article published in the magazine of the Multiple System Atrophy Trust.