|In this week’s edition of ‘Time of Our Lives’, we meet Kate Fletcher.|
Kate has been an active member in the DSQ music community since 2010 with her music therapy playgroups as well as the
Together Red Choir. She loves being able to share special moments with her clients through music.
Read her inspiring interview below.
Tell us about you?
I LOVE music! When I’m not doing my job as a music therapist, I am singing barbershop with my chorus and two different quartets. I also love musical theatre; dance and I play the trombone.
Outside of music I really like working with people from a variety of backgrounds. I do some specialised support work and am involved in Girl Guides. My introverted self likes to recharge by reading, listening to music (did I mention that I love music?!?), spending time with family and friends, and cuddling with my two puppies.
What is your involvement with Down syndrome Queensland?
My youngest sister, Nicci, has Down syndrome. So, our family have had a long relationship with DSQ – particularly the Toowoomba Family Support Group during our teenage years. I have some great memories of Camp Duckadang!!
In Brisbane, I started as a volunteer in 2010 at the first camp. And then ran a music therapy program that same year as part of my final semester of my Master of Music Therapy degree. Since then, the music therapy program has continued! I run the music therapy playgroups on a Monday as well as the Together Red Choir on a Wednesday.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I really love my job! I manage a fantastic team at Music Beat, who I enjoy working with. And I love being able to immerse myself in music in a variety of ways with my clients. I get to share some really special moments through music. Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most important!
What are some of your achievements?
I’m really proud of the team we have built at Music Beat, and the client and family-centred approach that we share. This then trickles down into all of our programs, especially with our groups, including the music therapy groups and choir at DSQ.
For our music therapy playgroups, it has been such a privilege to share special moments and achieve milestones with all of my little clients! I think that through the music therapy playgroups, there is a lovely little community of families at DSQ who are able to connect with and support each other. And this was done by bringing them together through music!
And for the Together Red Choir, they have achieved a LOT! Over the years they have written and recorded their own songs, produced their own CD, recorded a podcast/radio station, and done a heap of performances. Plus, they have learnt how to create music together online, which is no easy feat!
What are some of your challenges?
For the music therapy playgroups, the biggest challenge has been Covid. For these little guys it can be tricky to engage online, and I think it has been a testament to parents’ dedication that we have managed with online group sessions. I think for parents, a challenge is when their child gets to a really ‘busy’ stage in their development – constantly moving around and not being able to sit still. Sometimes it’s hard for parents to remember that this is exactly what they should be doing, even though it can be a little frustrating trying to manage it!
For the choir, again, the biggest challenge has been Covid. But something that has been great is that we have been able to expand the choir. So now the challenge is being able to sing together both in person and online.
For both programs, the challenge for me is definitely trying to divide my attention between the people I have in the room AND the people I have online!
What are your goals and ambitions for 2022?
I would like to grow both programs and also try and reach members around the state who might not be able to access music therapy otherwise. I think music is such a powerful medium to connect with others. And for our littlies, it’s an intervention that feels like a lot of fun rather than a lot of work (even though our brains are working super hard!).
How long have you been involved with Down Syndrome Queensland?
As an adult, I have been actively involved since 2010, first as a volunteer and then as a staff member since 2011. But I have been involved throughout my life since my youngest sister, Nicci, was born.
What advice would you give to someone with Down syndrome thinking about getting involved in Music/Music Therapy?
Music is really accessible by everyone. So, if you love music, make sure you use it in your life! This could be through learning instruments, joining community groups, or even just creating your own playlists to use at home.
What are the benefits?
How long do I have to answer this question?!?
In a technical sense, music therapy is a research-based allied health profession in which music is used to actively support people as they aim to improve their health, functioning and well-being. It can help people of all ages to manage their physical, mental, and emotional health and enhance their quality of life. Research has shown that rhythm and music affect multiple areas of the human brain at once on a subconscious level. Because of this fact, rhythm can be used to help build new connections in the brain (called neural pathways) thus improving brain function and allowing one to lead a more productive and functional life. Music is one of the only resources that can be used to engage the whole brain at once. When correctly applied by a music therapist, it can be used to practice, develop, enhance, and successfully meet age-appropriate milestones in all areas of development.
In a non-technical sense, music therapy is fun, enjoyable, and motivating. There are so many goals that music therapy can work on: from functional and developmental goals to social-emotional goals. The best part is that music therapy provides people with a safe, familiar, strength-based approach to explore and expand their capacity to reach their goals.
Do you have any other comments or information you would like to share?
If music is your thing, come and join us!
For more information on how Down Syndrome Queensland can support your school contact one of our Education Consultants, (07) 3356 6655, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website https://www.downsyndrome.org.au/qld/
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