Magical musical fingers
Music therapist Rebecca Thomas feels that music is more than just a hobby, entertainment or something you listen to
PHOTO: K. GOPINATHAN
Soothing notes Rebecca Thomas: ‘It is great to hear the most aggressive child soften and smile at the sound of music’
Rebecca Thomas finds it amusing when people don’t believe she is a piano teacher and a music therapist.
“They repeat the question and don’t seem convinced!” She feels that most don’t know the hard work that goes into it. With a degree in psychology, pianist Rebecca Thomas wanted to combine the two.
But she didn’t know how. Having played the piano since she was nine under Louise Pinto, she went on to study children’s music at Bible College in Singapore. It was here that she realised she wanted to return and reach music to the underprivileged.
But five years ago, there were few opportunities when Rebecca was part of the Bangalore School of Music (BSM).
She had the chance to pursue a Diploma in Music at the Royal College of Music in Sweden. When she returned, she found herself an opportunity to teach at Shishu Bhavan, a home for the mentally and physically challenged under the BSM’s Outreach Project.
“Music classes for children who are spastic to those who suffer from cerebral palsy becomes an organised activity. The idea is to focus on one activity.” So, for these children from different backgrounds — both mentally and physically, music classes slowly became a ritual that they look forward to.
“It was great to hear the most aggressive child soften and smile at the sound of music. Slowly, they began to learn words, make body movements if they had stiff muscles.” This became a repetitive activity every week that the children soon grew used to. It was difficult initially, especially since these were children who don’t get individual attention. “But saying the name of the child in the group each week made a lot of difference.”
Getting the children to say even a few words or even alphabets, effectively banished Monday morning blues for Rebecca. “Music is more than just a hobby, a form of entertainment or something you listen to. For me, it is a sense of identity and a medium of instruction.” She believes that the definition of music has evolved and has become a communicative tool.
Rebecca feels that music is a great way to get over inhibitions. She uses very basic tools like drums or bells in her classes. “Music is a great tool to improve the functions of the body and mind.” For more information or to assist in the Bangalore School of Music’s Outreach Project, contact 23536090.
This column features those who veer off the beaten track
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