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Brass on the Mind hits right note with bands

Wednesday 5 February, 2020

Mental health is coming to the forefront of conversations in bandrooms across the UK, thanks to an overwhelming response to the Brass on the Mind… in the Bandroom project launched by Tabby Kerwin, of Mode For.

The project will see Tabby visit bandrooms across the UK to raise awareness of mental health, address the language, resilience and support of mental health and wellbeing for our brass band musicians and help bands incorporate better communication, support structures and mental health policies in their organisations. Sessions are designed as a stepping-stone to mental health awareness courses or the full mental health first aid training and offer an opportunity for the whole band, conductor and non-musical supports to work together in a mental and musical development session which fits in to band’s usual rehearsal time.

Commenting on the content of the workshops, Tabby told British Bandsman: “Over the course of the two-hour session we look at what mental health is and its importance, how to build a strong, resilient, supportive, fun, musical and social environment and how everyone can be a contribution in order to strengthen mental health of ourselves and those around us. I focus on areas such as language, confidence and anxiety through a mixture of conversation, playing music and expert research from mental health professionals, musical, business and sporting philosophers and psychologists.

“The uptake on the sessions has been overwhelming and the response to me bringing mental health to the forefront of our attention in the brass band movement has been very positive at every level of banding. There has, of course, been some scepticism but this is a good thing as scepticism leads to conversations, awareness and education for all of us and that is what this is about; making more people aware of the benefits of good mental health; after all, we all have mental health.”

The sessions are tailored for each band that Tabby visits and work as a stand-alone session or as part of pre-competition development. 

She continued: “Contests have a massive impact on mental health so in the sessions we focus not just on the music the band is preparing but how to prepare our minds for better confidence and performance skills. 

"Just like athletes who spend a lot of time strengthening their mental fitness as well as physical fitness, in bands we need to focus not on just what we’re performing but how we perform. As such, I’m really looking forward to working with some bands ahead of the Regional Brass Band Championships to bring a different approach and perspective to their competitive development.” 

With no official funding in place yet for mental health support in brass bands, Mode For… is subsiding many sessions in order to bring this valuable information bandrooms across the UK. 

Bands wanting more information can email Tabby at info@modefor.co.uk and bookings are available throughout the year, with sessions available ahead of the Regional Championships.