Introducing Creative Rhythms

Update, February 2021: OUR INTERACTIVE SENSORY MUSIC SESSIONS ARE BACK FROM MARCH 2021, Now for kids (WHETHER dif-abled or not)! 

Creative Rhythms’ interactive, sensory music sessions are perfect for energetic children. Each session is based on a theme which we’ll explore through taste, touch and smell, not to mention an awesome playlist! Some themes are seasonal, some are based on specific musical eras. We’ll also travel around the world, exploring far-flung places and the genres associated with them. We’ll dress up, we’ll dance, we’ll experiment, and we’ll have tons of fun! Creative Rhythms sessons were originally designed for children and adults living with autism, mental health needs and/or profound or mild learning disabilities (or dif-abilities, as I prefer to say). Although I’m now running them for children instead, it’s very important to me that the classes remain accessible and open to all. With that in mind, chair users (and chair dancers!) are more than welcome at these sessions, launching on 20th March 2021, 2-3pm, in Sowerby Bridge. If you’d like to attend, please contact me for location details and any other queries. This covid statement explains my decision to focus on children’s classes. You can read my other blog posts (including a fun activity on how to make your own simple instruments from everyday objects!) by scrolling to the bottom of this page. 

Contact me: creativerhythmsophie@gmail.com, 07482316571

Creative Rhythms: Tailor-made, person-centred art, music, nature and sensory sessions to develop, excite and inspire

Wouldn’t it be nice to live a world where people recognise that what unites us is far more important than any ‘dif-ability’* that divides us? Music, nature and the creative arts speak to something deep inside each and every one of us, and promote a great and long-lasting sense of wellbeing and inner peace.

Creative Rhythms offers person-centred, tailor-made art and music sessions along with sensory and intensive interaction time and seasonal outdoor activities to focus on what we all have in common: a love of and deep connection to music, art, nature and the senses. Aside from being tons of fun, sessions can help to develop the following:

  • Sensory skills
  • Spiritual and emotional wellbeing
  • Imagination
  • Potential for holistic development
  • Meaningful opportunities for learning
  • Hand-to-eye co-ordination
  • Individuality
  • Sense of self
  • Learning rhythm and tempo
  • Motor skills
  • Choice-making
  • Communication skills
  • Interaction with others
  • Observation and listening skills
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • Self esteem
  • Sessions are also therapeutic, calming, and inspire happiness

The Creative Rhythms Philosophy is that all people with a ‘dif-ability’ can express themselves and come alive through music, creativity, the senses, alternative communication techniques, and time spent in nature. Find out more by clicking on the ‘FAQs’ tab above.

Blogs

Blog posts follow. You can jump to a specific post by using the links below:

  • Covid statement February 2021 including info on upcoming weekly music sessions: Read here
  • ‘Spiral Tribe’: Creative Rhythms’ accessible sensory allotment: Read here
  • How to make your own musical instruments at home: Read here
  • Inclusive music-making: How Jack made his sister’s wedding day so special: Read here
  • How to start growing your own food in a small or urban space: Read here
  • How to cope – and thrive! – during lockdown: Read here
  • On the ethics of UK abortion laws and discrimination against dif-abled people : Read here
  • How science shows that nature and wellbeing go hand in hand : Read here 

COVID statement February 2021

Well, here we are. Almost a whole year has passed since we went into lockdown, and while it’s been rather unbearable for every single one of us, some people have arguably suffered more than others. What I see in my work is that nobody has been more adversely affected than those people with dif-abilities who are considered extremely vulnerable, and have barely left their homes during this time – let alone seen or touched their loved ones. 

I’ve continued to run sensory music sessions, but due to lockdown I’ve only been able to run these with the adults I work with regularly as a support worker. Unlike many people, who immediately sprang into action and took their businesses online, I’ve hesitated to make a concrete decision on what to d0 next. I’ve tried Zoom classes with varying results, but generally speaking, it just doesn’t work well. Face-to-face interaction is absolutely crucial in these interactive sessions. So is engagement by support workers, not to mention access to instruments, theme props, fancy dress and sensory items.

After speaking to several parents of young children who are going crazy trying to conjure up new ways of entertaining and educating the kids at home, it occured to me that Creative Rhythms workshops are absolutely perfect for little ones. The sensory music sessions in particular lend themselves well to family fun, with the opportunity for children to dance, learn, experiment with instruments, and burn off tons of energy before winding down in a soothing chillout space. 

So, here’s the good news! Current covid guidelines allow for support groups of up to 15 people to go ahead as usual, and under 5s are not counted. So, with that in mind, these sessions will start back up again in late March in Halifax, and weekly thereafter. 

Sadly, not everyone in society feels that creativity, community and face-to-face interaction for isolated children and vulnerable adults are deemed ‘essential’. As such, I will not be publishing the location details just yet, but would prefer anyone interested to contact me directly.

Choosing fear over love may have become the norm in these dark times, but there is a growing swell of voices who reject the status quo and understand the reality: that interaction with other human beings and access to the creative arts have never been more important for mental health, happiness and wellbeing than they are right now.

The sessions are recommended for kids aged 3-12, but are inclusive and everyone is welcome – especially chair users (and even better, chair dancers!) I’m looking forward to welcoming old and new friends of all ages to these weekly sessions, whether living with dif-abilities or not. Please note that this is an open invitation, but I am by no means encouraging people to take any risks. It is entirely down to the individual, assuming they have capacity, to decide whether or not the benefits of attending a support group outweigh the risks of mixing with other members of the community in the current climate.

Click here to return to the home page.

Inclusive music-making: How Jack made his sister’s wedding day so special

When Jack, a man with PMLD who I support, couldn’t attend his sister’s wedding in New Zealand earlier this year, I got together with his family and friends to make a plan on how we could include him in the party – from the other side of the world!

Jack LOVES music, so it was a no-brainer: let’s perform a song that will celebrate his very special bond with his sister Jenny. I spoke to Jack’s mum to gather stories and memories they shared together, and then wrote a few verses to the tune of one of Jack’s favourite nursery rhymes. I sang the song to Jack and it seemed to be an instant hit! Over the weeks that followed, many of us shared the song with Jack until he instantly recognised it and responded with that beautiful contagious laugh of his.

As the wedding day drew nearer, I met with his family and friends, and my colleague James recorded us singing these gorgeous memories that Jack shares with his sister. Jack listened intently and giggled a lot as we finished the song. His laughter was so wonderful that we used it throughout the recording!

Needless to say, Jenny was over the moon on her wedding day when she was surprised by Jack’s song projected on to the big screen, with Jack joining in by Zoom. This was one of the most rewarding music activities I have ever taken part in, and it’s an idea definitely worth sharing! Do you support someone who loves music and is missing someone very much? Why not help them to write some simple lyrics to one of their favourite songs and record the result for an absent family member? In these strange times, sharing loving memories and wishes can literally mean the world to those involved.

If any of you reading this feel inspired, I’d love to hear your finished songs- please do share them with me here or on Twitter!

 

‘Spiral Tribe’: Our accessible sensory herb and veg garden

It feels like such a long time since the corona virus forced us all into lockdown and changed our lives forever. Finding fun and engaging things to do with the people we support has been a huge challenge, but on a positive note it’s also forced us to get creative!

Continue reading “‘Spiral Tribe’: Our accessible sensory herb and veg garden”

Making simple musical instruments at home!

If you’re interested in the Zoom music sessions I’m running – or even if you just want a quick, fun crafting activity to do at home – why not make your own instruments from everyday objects? Here we’ll focus mainly on percussion instruments that help teach rhythm, just as we would do in a face-to-face session.

Shakers (think of them as makeshift maracas) can be made from absolutely any container you have lying around. Coffee jars or tins, plastic detergent and chocolate boxes, pop bottles, anything – the options are as endless as your imagination!

Continue reading “Making simple musical instruments at home!”

How to start growing your own food (even in a small or urban space)!

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Credit: Flickr, Stacie Stacie Stacie

Being self sufficient in a small space is much easier (and enjoyable) than you might think! Since lockdown, I’ve been busy making a vegetable patch with the people I support. Not only is this a fun activity for ‘dif-abled’ people that makes the most of the sunshine we’re currently all enjoying, but it will also save a ton of money and attract lots of wildlife and pollinators to our garden.

Ten years ago, I knew nothing about gardening. It seemed like a useful but time-consuming hobby: too much hard work and too much information to take in. Then I moved to a small farming community in the mountains of southern Spain, where old men wearing flat caps still use mules to plough the earth, and everyone in the village has their own allotment, or huerto.

Continue reading “How to start growing your own food (even in a small or urban space)!”

How to cope (and thrive!) during lockdown

 

Credit: Pexels, CC license
Credit: Pexels, CC license



There’s no doubt about it: life has become intensely weird over the last couple of weeks. All the simple things we used to take completely for granted – seeing friends and family, hugging, standing close to a stranger in a queue, sitting on a park bench, having a nice meal and a few drinks out – has gone in the blink of an eye. For those of us in health and social care, the frustration isn’t only felt in our own personal lives, but experienced at work too: a myriad of ever-evolving company policies to negotiate, breaking the tragic news to parents that they can no longer see their children in supported living, stretching the imagination on a daily basis to come up with creative ways of entertaining our service users – many of whom may be confused, anxious and unable to understand the sudden death of their activity schedule and the complex reasons behind the lockdown.

It’s certainly a stressful time – on that we can all agree – but I often feel like a lone voice in the wilderness when I discuss COVID-19 with friends, family and colleagues and argue that what the world needs now more than anything else is positivity. So rather than giving into the temptation to hide under your duvet until it’s all over, here are a few proactive and realistic steps you can take to put a smile back on your face. And if you’re a nurse or carer, the same goes for the people you support!

Continue reading “How to cope (and thrive!) during lockdown”

Is a disabled person’s life really worth less than yours?

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Diego blinks several times and looks at me with his trademark grin. “S-s-s-sophie”, he stammers, his eyes alight with excitement, “Can we sing the Shrek song again?” Happily, I oblige, and we dance, and we play, and we laugh a lot. We do this every single day. Next, he’ll ask if we can sing YMCA, we’ll laugh some more, and then at some point I’ll persuade him to back away from the music blasting out of the computer and come for a walk in the countryside with me.

He’ll hold my hand as we amble through the woods. He’ll point out birds and many other wild sounds I hadn’t even noticed – being as I am too wrapped up in my everyday problems – and I’ll be glad he brought me back to the present moment, as always. Then Diego will usually tell me the same story over and over again, and even though it takes him a while to find the words, I’ll never get tired of hearing it because he does it with such enthusiasm – always smiling, always peppering the tale by telling me ‘I l-l-l-l-love you Sophie’, with his beaming grin, his pride and his genuine affection cheering my day up no end. I feel the urge to kiss Diego all over his cutesy, chubby little face every time I see him. He’s probably the most adorable child I have ever met in my life. 

Diego happens to have Down’s syndrome, which, far from being a burden to me as his (informal, family-friend) nanny, only seems to reinforce my belief that most disabilities could be more accurately termed ‘dif-abilities’. 

Continue reading “Is a disabled person’s life really worth less than yours?”

Nature and wellbeing go hand in hand

Winter is fading, green shoots are pushing up through the earth, and we can already enjoy the beautiful sight of snowdrops and crocuses bursting with colour. Yay! Spring is almost upon us, which seems like the perfect time to write a blog post about the therapeutic value of such things as gardening, rambling across the moors, walking through a forest, or otherwise appreciating the natural world, with its wonderful sounds of babbling brooks, birdsong and breeze rustling through the trees.

New research out this month has offered further evidence that human interaction with nature is a vital ingredient for health and wellbeing. Surprised? Me neither. But wait! Not only that, this fascinating study found that having an emotional connection with nature is four times more likely to make us feel that our lives are worthwhile and have meaning than having a high social status or income level.

Continue reading “Nature and wellbeing go hand in hand”