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  • Linda May McDade

Unlocking creativity for healthier living

Mental Health Matters, the slogan is everywhere - in the workplace, on the TV, the Radio, all over the internet, emblazoned on billboards and slapped on the sides of buses... the 'awareness' campaign has saturated our every waking moment but for many it is still a private struggle being waged on an internal front every day.

I think we are all in agreement that the nation is suffering untold accounts of depression and anxiety related disorders that strike regardless of age, gender and situation. Poor mental health is endemic in society and indiscriminate in its attacks - and while it's great that so many high profile individuals are doing everything they can to raise awareness, for those of us at the thin end of the wedge, it's a daily battle that needs more than free fruit in the staff kitchen to get you through.

So what exactly does this have to do with Trutone?

Well, life hasn't always been straight forward for me as for so many others. It hasn't followed a neat little linear design but rather bounced from one unexpected situation to the next, often needing to be 'coped with', full of challenges and brimming with highs and lows. There have been times in my life where I have felt out of place, the literal personification of an oxymoron. I've had my battles with depression and crushing anxiety but, at the risk of sounding like a total cliché, it has made me stronger. I've worked hard on many fronts to find my route out of the chaos and I now have a fully equipped toolbox. I know that the creative impulse is a master key and it's a gift I can share.

The Science

As a result of my own personal experiences and studies the Trutone approach to teaching is aligned with what has recently become termed PTMF - The Power Threat Meaning Framework. Lucy Johnstone, a consultant clinical psychologist and joint lead author of a paper on the subject writes:

"A new framework of understanding [of] how we all cope with distress can lead the way to a more honest and effective paradigm."

This recently published paper makes for interesting reading and there is a link to the article published in the IAI (Issue 96, May 2021) at the end of the blog for anyone who'd like to take a closer look. Essentially, she and her colleagues are advocating for a change in perception that recognises that the way we live and work is fundamental to our experience of the world and reaction to it.

"We are all to some extent affected by social and economic policies which may contribute to wealth inequalities, discrimination, environmental destruction and other social injustices."

For the large number of us at the aforementioned thin end of the wedge this seems like common sense right? But what's not to like about joined up thinking?

The Daily Grind

We have known for a long time that life puts immeasurable stress on us - we feel it everyday -

Did I feed the cat? What do you mean the car won't start? I'm Late! You forgot your packed lunch!

My computer crashed! I lost my phone! Your card has been declined. The current wait time in A&E is 6 hours... It's endless, and that was before the world threw us a financial crash with a pandemic for good measure.

Less time with more to do

With life fully determined to keep you busy beyond all reason good old fashioned private tuition just won't cut it. A more holistic approach is needed. If you're an already busy parent with a child that wants to start music lessons, it has to work for you as much as it does your child. You don't need another complication while you're juggling shift work and already have karate commitments with a sibling, trampolining, parents evenings, birthday parties, the weekly shop, getting the car in for a service, work commitments etc etc. You need something that works with you, not against you

...... that's what Trutone is here for

An Investment with Real Time Value

Investing in music lessons, particularly when money is tight for most people post Covid-19, is a big ask when balancing the family budget with regards to both money and time. So why even consider it?

There are innumerable studies and 'proofs' of the value of music lessons in the life of children and adults. Music is a powerful tool as an agent of calm, a medium for processing emotions, it stimulates pain relief and promoted good mental health. It has been measured as enhancing academic focus and ability, improving motor skills and body coordination and promoting a sense of self worth and confidence that comes from within rather than being externally verified. It's also brilliant fun and a great way to make friends!

Of course music does not stand alone in this. There are many disciplines that offer huge value to the practitioner, from the study and practice of martial arts to the nuts and bolts of mechanics. The essential magic is in the discipline. It teaches patience and problem solving. Where music differs is in its cultural universality. It speaks to something deep inside the human condition, a primal energy that makes it such an effective therapy tool. Any doubts of this can be cast aside after watching the 2019 video released by Asociacion Musica para Despertar, a Spanish charity providing music therapy for dementia patients. The video shows Marta C Gonzalez, a former prima ballerina who danced with the New York Ballet in the 1960's and who, for a fleeting and profoundly moving moment, becomes Tchaikovsky's swan once again - link to video.

The value of the study of music and the arts throughout our lives is undisputed but access to it is not always so readily available. The many layers of complications in life can be the very thing which precludes us from accessing the things that are possibly the most important for our long term success and good health. This informs the Trutone approach to teaching in both accessibility and content. It's about keeping things simple. So many businesses and institutions make claims about their commitment to mental health awareness and wellbeing in the workplace and sadly it's not always genuine. For me, it really matters and I am uniquely placed to actively make it a driving principle of my approach to teaching and vision for the future of Trutone.

This is by no means a new 'initiative'. About 15 years ago (tempus fugit) I had a student who came to me by way of an accompanist who was scheduled to play piano with her in her first ABRSM exam. The student was around 13 years old and her parents had invested a fair amount of money in a 'flute teacher' over the years. Sadly, they had been let down and consequently their daughter had little idea of anything beyond blowing the instrument. She was being set up to fail. I spoke with them honestly and could see that until that moment they simply had no frame of reference for how the situation had been proceeding. They had trusted someone to provide a service and unfortunately that person did not have the skills to deliver.

They made a brave decision. The student was removed from the exam and came to me instead to unpick the damage and restart. The dedication of this student was heart warming and I only refer to her as 'the student' to guard her identity and not to be cold. She worked hard over the next few months, was always happy and simply delightful to spend the time with. After a couple of months of lessons her mum came to collect her one evening. She had come straight from parents evening and wanted to share something with me.

All of the teachers asked me the same thing - What's changed?

When she asked them what they meant they told her that her daughter's confidence had blossomed. Where before she was shy and nervous to venture her opinion, she was now eager to chip in, one of the first to have her hand up in class and unafraid of making a mistake.

"It's you." she said, "You're the only change."

You cannot ask for any better feedback. I was so happy that the 30 minutes a week she was spending with me had already had such a positive effect on her confidence and approach to learning overall. This confidence carried her back to the exam she had been so ill prepared for and she smashed it out of the park, passing with distinction.

For me, this is what it's all about. There are many things a parent can choose to invest money in for their child's growth and development. Instrumental lessons, when taught well, are a great choice because they are about so much more than learning a mechanical skill and offer a value that stretches beyond that one lesson a week.

What makes Trutone a good choice?

There is no magic formulae as such. I've been teaching for a long time and worked with so many gifted, amazing, funny and brilliant people of all ages. I owe my students a great debt. They and their families have been hugely influential in shaping what has now become Trutone Tuition. Lessons are informal and relaxed with a lot of fun and laughter and packed full of learning. Life is for living and the way we learn needs to reinforce that.

My lessons are open to everyone, regardless of age, gender or situation. I do everything in my power to facilitate access to lessons such as offering home visits, digital sessions and floating lesson times for shift workers. There are a range of options available for different approaches to study from classical flute training, education mentoring and adult learning, all detailed on the services page of the website. Above all and at the heart of everything Trutone offers is a genuine care for the mental health and well being of all parties concerned.

If you are considering starting a learning journey with Trutone you can contact me through the form on the website, directly by email, telephone, WhatsApp, carrier pigeon - whatever works. I'm here to help and always happy to grow the Trutone family.

Additional Resource:

Beyond the Mental Health Paradigm, The Power Threat Meaning Framework

Lucy Johnstone, article published in IAI Issue 96, 5th May 2021


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