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"... on the Mind"

By modefor, Jul 28 2020 09:03AM

Hi everyone, welcome to my first post at Mode for… I have to admit it is somewhat daunting that people might be reading my stuff further afield from my own little website but at the same time I'm quite excited.


Lockdown: The trials of practising at home


Lockdown. Where do I start? I imagine a lot of you can relate to what I'm about to go into, whether you're a brass player or not. As a brass player particularly, I have been struggling with a certain situation that people like to refer to as practise. My stunning silver Geneva cornet, named Roxy by a dear friend (it stuck), is looking at me from her case in disappointment. Yes, it is open, in my attempt to persuade myself to pick her up and actually play. Yet, there's always something else to do. "She can wait I have to make a snack, I'm hungry". "Well I can't play her now; I've just eaten." Any excuse to leave her there. This brings up the question, why? I've played my whole life, I love playing. Why don't I want to lift her out of that case and make some beautiful music?


Well, I don't know about you but I've always struggled with practising at home. My main musical outlet was always in groups. Now I can only play at home, like actual home practise? Oh, the horror!


Yes, the thought makes me shudder. I think, for me, it's largely down to the fact practising meant focusing on the things I didn't like doing so much, like scales. I attach this negative association with scales to practise. I'll put my hatred for scales into perspective for you. My poor teacher was probably near to a nervous breakdown getting me to learn the scales I needed for my Grade 8 because I was absolutely shocking at them (still am). There was a point where we'd put my grade 8 off so long due to this failing of mine that the pieces changed and I literally learned three new pieces in something like 3-4 months; may have been less. Of course, my sight-reading was pretty good from all the playing I was doing daily in different groups but scales were something I just didn't do. I also built a complex as many of us do. In the end I went for the exam anyway, hoping for the best. It's actually quite funny, if you look at the feedback; I was practically full marks in everything, then you get to scales. I failed those.


When I say I failed them, it isn't an exaggeration. I actually did. I mean, they really did not go well. Just ask Paul, my amazing accompanist and Band Conductor at the time who was sitting in the waiting room. He heard the disaster that followed. The examiner was lovely, I swear he was trying to make it all as easy as possible so I could get full marks. "Can you play me A minor harmonic?" he asks. Sure, I think cockily. Then it happened... A, B, C, D E flat (oh no! that's not right.) E natural F sharp (what are you doing? Hang on, what scale was it? Did he want melodic or harmonic?). The look on the examiner's face said it all. "Ok." he says awkwardly. "Why don't we try G chromatic?" Ok, good, I can do this one. I start and off I go right up to top G and then find I am now on a B. Too far stupid. And I awkwardly make my way down.

What else can I say?


Perhaps we can see why scales have a slightly frightening ring in my ears. To be honest this was an exam, a long time ago. I put it into perspective now and actually take away the best part of the experience; the almost full marks in everything else. I'm happy being the way I am and the story amuses me.

That did seem like a random little segway, but I think it identifies how important home practise is to musicians and why some of us struggle, when it comes to picking up our instrument at home. It is hard to bring ourselves to do something we don't like doing, especially when it's connected to something we apparently enjoy. We all have our demons to face, particularly when it's something we also want to do well at. We're often our own worst enemies. It doesn't mean we should give up; we just need to find a different perspective and a new way around the problem that suits us (perhaps something I should do with scales. - We need to pick our battles).


The first step, I decided, was to sort out my attitude towards practise. I decided to be proactive (one of Tabby's Three Ps. If you haven't read it yet put it on your reading list). Realising that I prefer to play in groups was key. This meant that online band recordings for general enjoyment and the Whit Friday March competition was a godsend for me. It gave me a new motivation to play and something to work towards. When they started to calm down, I was at a loose end again. Then it occurred to me; why not do my own? I've learned so many new skills from sitting at my computer, with Garageband open and a microphone next to me. Anyone who did music tech with me as a teen would laugh at the idea of me doing my own music videos. I was considered to have a poltergeist that followed me around the room and shut down all the computers I touched. But I have done three and intend to do more. I really enjoy it. Who knew technology could provide so much opportunity?


What I'm getting at is, lockdown has been a real struggle for many of us in a number of ways. However, look at what has come out of it. I certainly feel that I have grown because I decided to do something about these feelings, exacerbated by the confinement of

Lockdown.


With musicians, our social outlets for musical creativity has been seriously restricted. However, I want to be positive here. I like to think that out of adversity comes creativity. We have to find a way to do what makes us happy. In the process of the journey we gain something beautiful; new knowledge. Who knows where that will lead us?


I find more and more, as we continue through lockdown, that my view on the situation of Roxy and practise has changed for the better. Now I look at her and think, 'what's our next project?' Then she finds she is no longer in her case.


Georgie x



By modefor, Mar 29 2020 10:47AM

Here in the UK we have reached our first weekend of the enforced lockdown due to COVID-19.

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You may well have just made it through your first week working from home whilst entertaining the kids, or your first week of being home alone, so well done! Be proud of yourself.

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Now, as it goes, I’m a bit of a pro at this lockdown malarkey and working from home as I’ve been self-employed working alone from the comfort of my own surroundings for the last 20 years!

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I also feel like I’ve spent the last 16 months self-isolating following the death of my husband… so, yes! I have the skills of resiliency and putting your mental health first in order to get through some really shitty stuff!

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Actually, side note, I was just at the point where I thought I might start getting out and about more and hitting the world socially again when the world said: “hey! Not today…social isolation for you!” Should I read anything into this?

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Anyhow, I want to share with you some of my tips for surviving the lockdown (whether this is your first soirée into working from home, your first time being home alone or being separated from those you love) which put a strong focus on your mental health, because good mental health is what we all need to focus on right now, as well as keeping good physical health…. Yes peeps… wash your hands and stay at home. So, here goes:


Plan your day: routine will give you self-confidence & will help with productivity.


Move more: Not only does exercise keep you fit, it helps with your wellbeing and sleep.


Nutrition for the mind, body and spirit: staying hydrated and eating nutritiously are vital for good health and they also have a massive impact on your mental health too. Now, there will be days when all we need is a bottle of red wine and some mini eggs and that’s cool; do that, just don’t make it every day. Feed your mind, body and spirit with every bit of nutrition it needs to stay fit and healthy and boost your mood. We all know that too much red wine and mini eggs makes you feel crap.


Relaxation techniques: Find what does it for you as a good relaxation technique helps with anxiety and sleep. It could be mindfulness, meditation, reading, listening to music, cooking, dancing, yoga… could be anything which works for YOU.


Creativity: Find something new or existing to do that uses your creative brain. Engaging some creativity in what and how we do things can be a massive boost for our minds.


Reflection: The world is a crazy place right now and there are many situations we can’t control, so focus on what you can control to feel more grounded and calm. Being grateful for the positive things is a powerful tool in your armoury right now. Gratitude brings a sense of calm and security and you can ether take a few moments to think about what you’re grateful for each day or write them down, then, when times feel tough, you can have a read of what you’ve written and it can really help.


Take time out: We all need time out for ourselves; whether that is to sit and think, enjoy our hobbies or try something new. If you are alone, you still need to take time out for your own headspace and if you’re at home with several people, make sure you all take time for yourselves, in a separate room, just some privacy and space for you. We need this for our own sanity and mental health and just five minutes away from the family can really benefit your health and wellbeing.


Stay connected: Working from home and self-isolation can be a huge strain on our mental health and loneliness is a very real problem for many. We keep being told to socially distance ourselves from each other. I think this is a poor choice of words and we need a mindset tweak and to use better language. Yes, we ABSOLUTELY MUST physically distance ourselves in order to beat this pandemic BUT we need to focus on being more socially engaging with each other (in safe ways) for better mental health. So, a big yes to ‘phone calls, texts, video chats and the use of online platforms and apps such as Zoom, Facetime, WhattsApp and Houseparty. Now more than ever we need to get talking and keep communicating with each other and you can be creative with this organising online events and meet-ups, but connect with people daily.


Mental health is a very individual experience and right now our mental health is being tested to the max, so it’s hugely important for us to build resilience.


The above ideas will help you build that resilience to stay strong during lockdown which will then be strong and positive habits you have put in place for life going forwards and supporting your own mental health.


Resilience is key and your having good mental health is vital.


If you want to work on your resilience skills you can join me on my Focus & Flex event on Monday 6th April. Details are here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/focus-flex-tickets-100811225088


If you need more support my virtual door is always open or you can seek further support from organisations such as the Samaritans by calling 116123


Much Love

Tabby xxx



By modefor, Mar 29 2020 10:45AM

As I write this, the world is experiencing something completely unprecedented as it faces the unknown quantity that is COVID-19.


Many people are in self-isolation, working from home, looking after children as schools are closed, cancelling events for the foreseeable future and businesses are closed and struggling.


It is worrying times and worry can lead to anxiety for everyone and if you already live with anxiety or other mental health issues, these times have never been tougher.


We all have mental health which works on a continuum; sometimes our mental health is good and sometimes it’s not and we can slide to any point on that scale at any moment of any day.


The current climate is giving people more awareness of their own mental health as the worry and reality of COVID-19 hits.


Overwhelm and anxiety are something that can easily affect us all, but there are things we can do to help ourselves both generally and in specifically at this time.


I’ve put together a few coping strategies for managing anxiety which can easily be implemented by you when you need a little support to bring some calmness into your life.


Not all these ideas will work for everyone, but hopefully from these ideas you can find a few which you can build into your good daily habits.


So, in no particular order…


Breathing

Breathing is the most fundamental thing we can do to not only survive, but to keep anxiety levels controlled and bring some calm to ourselves when all around is moving so fast.

There are many focussed breathing techniques you can use, but two of my favourites are simple yoga breathing - slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth - and ‘4, 7, 8’ breathing. This is when you breath in for 4 beats, hold for 7 and out over 8.


By making your out breath longer than your in breath, you will help slow your heart rate and bring a sense of calm.


Sleep

I cannot tell you how important sleep is for managing your mental health.


After breathing, I think sleep is the most important thing we can do to help our minds and body rest and heal. But some people struggle to sleep well


With a combination of other things I’ve mentioned such as hydration, diet, exercise, breathing exercises, reading and meditation we can all improve our sleep patterns. In the current climate, the best thing we can stockpile is sleep.


Be kind to yourself, embrace emotions

It’s really important to be kind to yourself and not beat yourself up when you’re riding a rollercoaster of emotions.


Supressing emotions can be really detrimental to our mental health and the best thing we can do is let them be, understand them, accept them, let them pass and move on with more resilience.


Cry and laugh when you need to. Never feel bad or self-conscious about feeling happy or sad. Embrace the emotions, be honest with yourself and others about how you feel and share that gem of knowledge with everyone.


Make Yourself Feel Good

Especially when we are deprived of doing what we normally do in terms of going out and taking part in things, do everything you can do to make yourself feel good.


Stay healthy with nutritious food, home exercise regimes, fresh air and hydration and do all you can to make yourself feel good.


Have that pamper session, wear the nice underwear, get dressed up. Even if no-one will see it, this is about making yourself feel good and happy.


Days when I’ve got a great matching underwear set on are days I feel like I’m winning!


For more food and nutrition advice check out The Food Ninja.


Review & reflect

Take time to understand and accept situations, review your current environment and situation and reflect on what has gone and what is, purely as a means to make a conscious decision about how to move forwards in the best way for you.


We don’t and must not reflect to feel sadness and wallow in things that have passed, but by reflecting we can learn and move forwards with strength and resilience.


Humour

Even in the hardest of times, laughter, humour and smiling will help us through so spread that stuff around like glitter.


Find some funny cat videos or your favourite comedian to watch, read a joke book, smile at the person on the other side of the street.


Whatever you do, do it with a smile.


Journaling

Writing things down is a really great way to accept and understand your emotions and feelings with a view to managing anxiety.


Regular journaling, can really help you understand yourself in order to build resilience and the opportunity to write down how you really feel is quite cathartic. The process of reading your words back can also help you to get to grips with your own emotions.


Reading

Losing yourself in a good book does not only help learning, it can help the mind be free and imaginative. It gives your mind permission to step away from its own thoughts and anxieties and to get some much-needed rest.


With so many ways to read and so many different books, reading is a never-ending source of help and support.


I like to have several books on the go at the same time; a mix of autobiographies, self-help, business and novels.


Meditation

Meditation doesn’t mean you have to have the skills and patience of a meditation guru!


Just taking a few minutes to sit quietly with your eyes closed, focus on your breathing and be at one with your thoughts can really help to bring a sense of calm and control anxiety.


There are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube and other similar places, or you can use and app on your phone to assist.


Apps

A couple of great apps for meditation and helping with anxiety are ‘Headspace’ and ‘Calm’.


I use ‘Calm’ not just for the meditations but also the sleep stories meditation lessons.


Headspace has just released some new free content too called ‘Weathering the Storm.’


You can use these (and other) apps for free with in app purchases available.


Mindfulness

Mindfulness does not have to be all ‘woo woo’ but in fact it’s just the appreciation and skill of being in the here and now; not worrying what has gone or what is ahead but just focussing on what is around you right now.


You can be mindful whilst walking, playing or listening to music, cooking, eating and many more ways.


Simply take a moment to appreciate your current surroundings. That could be what you see, taste, hear, touch, smell; utilise all your senses to help ground yourself.


Switch off notifications

Many of us spend a great deal of time on social media and our ‘phones and as we change our habits due to self-isolation, working from home and lockdowns we are likely to find ourselves online more than ever.


In order to manage our anxiety and overwhelm better, it’s advisable to switch off the notifications on your ‘phone so you can be self-disciplined and more in control of your own usage.


Stay away from news

Yes, this is hard, especially as we want to know all the latest breaking news surrounding this global pandemic, but a lot of news stories are sensationalised and this is not good for our anxiety levels.


News is 24/7 these days, but our usage of it doesn’t have to be. Re-order news feeds, switch off notifications and only check in on the news at designated times on your terms. Your anxiety levels will thank you for it.


Surround yourself with uplifting info

Once you’ve made a choice to limit the sensationalised news and stories, surround yourself with uplifting information. Find some great online resources and groups or books and magazines and get involved with as many things that make you smile and feel involved as possible.


Find people and groups who ground you

Staying grounded is key in managing anxiety. Surround yourself with amazing people who will keep you in check, have your health and interests at heart and will be there for you in moments of both joy and crisis.


Having people and groups you trust is paramount, so choose who is best for you and who makes you feel safe and included. Don’t be afraid to talk to these people when you need to and share your feelings and emotions. You are not a burden and your level of understanding could be the kind of non-judgemental listening someone else needs, so be there for each other. Your tribe is everything.


Be a reducer not a producer

Be the person that helps to reduce anxiety and not produce it. You are not alone in things so put all the coping strategies in place to help yourself and this will help reduce the anxiety in yourself and others.


Think what you do have control over

You have control over your choices and your actions. Don’t be led by news and social media hype and panic. Make your own judgements, take the advice of experts and control your choices. By taking charge of your decisions you will be able to limit overwhelm and anxiety and make the best judgements for you.


Is your response appropriate

When everything around you feels chaotic and out of control, the one thing we must control is our response to situations.


It’s so important to ACT and not REACT to things. Choose your response wisely after you’ve asked yourself if your actions or words are necessary, kind and appropriate.


How we act to things helps us keep emotions and anxiety in check.


How can you influence a situation?

Once you have decided on the appropriate response to an event or situation ask yourself how you can influence things positively. Can your knowledge or understanding help someone else to feel better so the mutual support will help you all through?


Try to find ways to think positively and influence a situation for emotional and physical benefit of yourself and others.


Creativity

Creativity is good for the soul. Whether it’s a creative hobby, creative thinking or learning new creative skills, focusing on something creative can help with your mental health.


Music, writing, drawing, painting, colouring-in, sewing, knitting, cooking; there are so many ways to get creative so find your thing.


Create a new routine

We can be a little habitual and often that gives us comfort when trying to manage our anxiety, but the reality is these times call for a tweak to our usual routines, but this doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming.


First, with the other work we’ve done on our minds in place, we can accept the situation and rationally accept it. We can then prepare to take different measures.


See things as an opportunity; an opportunity to cook different foods, an opportunity to communicate differently and safely with people, an opportunity to build new exercise regimes at home, a new way to work, a new way to school our children.


The best thing about opportunity is that we get to create exactly what works for us, in a way that works for us. So, make small actions and changes and be consistent with them to create new routines and habits.


Goals

It’s good to know that your current situation and feelings will pass and so we are not stuck in the ‘here and now’ but we can look to future plans and goals.


Have a mix of small goals to get you through each moment of each day and some big amazing goals to strive for. Be as creative as you like and make them all exciting.


What’s positive

From every situation, no matter how overwhelming it feels at the time, there will be a positive if you look for it. Finding the positive in a seemingly negative scenario is what can help our anxiety as it gives us hope that things are within our control and understanding.


When anxiety starts to bubble due to the chaos around you, stop and take a moment to step back, view things from every perspective and look for that small glimmer of positivity and then build on it.


What can you learn?

Finally, the most important thing we can do (after breathing and sleeping!) is to learn and develop. Be open to learning about yourself, your emotions and those of other people.


A focus on learning and development can help us manage anxiety because we can see the point in things and understand and accept that everything has purpose and meaning. When we understand that, we can create better coping strategies for ourselves and move forwards with purpose and a renewed vigour.


Just remember you are never alone; together we can support ourselves and each other and I’m always here and happy to help.


Much Love

Tabby xxx


If you want some friendship, online happiness or to join in the conversation to support better mental health and help yourself and others, then hop on over to my page at www.facebook.com/modefor or my #createmyhappy group at www.facebook.com/groups/createmyhappy




By modefor, Dec 18 2019 10:27AM

I'm totally delighted to let you know that our first ever CD on the Mode for... label, 'Lago - The Music of Simon Kerwin' has made the shortlist of nominations for the 4barsrest CD of the Year.


It's listed alongside some amazing other recordings, but the CD that honours Simon's musical legacy and supports cancer patients at The Bexley Wing at St. James' Hospital Leeds, brilliantly performed by the Rothwell Temperance Band under the guidance of David Roberts and expertly recorded by KMJ Recordings as found favour from the hundreds of albums recorded this year.


The results will be revealed on Christmas Day so fingers crossed, but I'm truly humbled and delighted for the nomination.


You can check out the full list of nominations at https://4barsrest.com/articles/2019/1844.asp

By modefor, Nov 5 2019 11:23AM


*** 𝟚 𝔻𝕒𝕪𝕤 𝕋𝕠 𝔾𝕠 *** 𝕄𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕔 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕒𝕡𝕪 ***


… until the release of the new CD ‘Lago – The Music of Simon Kerwin’


As well as being a great way to honour and celebrate the musical legacy of my husband Simon, this album of music has a much greater and wider purpose.


‘Lago’ is Italian for Lake. In 2012 Simon and I bought our Italian home, a houseboat called ‘Canto del Lago’ on Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Italy. It was our very happy place and still is. It is home. It is a large, impressive, calming pool of water that has beauty, peace and inspiration. Simon and I were at our most creative there and it is the resting place of his heart and soul and where I can recalibrate my own mental health and creativity.


Track 2 on the album shares the same name of our house ‘Canto del Lago’ and as you have a listen to this preview HERE and look at the album cover image of the lake itself, you get a sense of this calm.


That is the power of music. It can be a healing and powerful force on our mental wellbeing and mental and physical health and making our mental heath a priority is vital.


This album is designed to bring you a sense of mindfulness, wellbeing and reflection. To enjoy the music in a way that calms your mind and reaches your heart through many emotions.


This album is also for the cancer patients who walk in to the Bexley Wing, Leeds Cancer Centre at St. James’ Hospital where Simon was treated and died. Not only can you use the music as an emotional release and use the cover image to visualise a calming, happy place where troubles drift away on the breeze, you can rest assured that from the sale of this recording, a donation has been made via Jacqui’s Million fund directly for the welfare of the patients to make your experience as comfortable as it can be.


I’m also delighted that on 7th November, the official launch of the CD, we will be presenting the Bexley Wing with 9 personal CD players and copies of the CD to be used on three of the chemotherapy wards where Simon and Jacqui of Jacqui’s Million received and continue to receive treatment.


This is so the music of Simon and the fabulous playing of Rothwell Temperance Band can be used as a therapy for patients to enjoy as they receive treatment; to hopefully be a calming distraction as the chemotherapy does its work.


This is more than just a brass band CD; this is music doing its thing in the powerful way that it can for a good cause, therapy and better mental health.


To purchase your copy go to www.modeforpublishing.com


A donation from sales goes to the Leeds Cancer Centre, St. James’ Hospital via Jacqui’s Million Fund.


No single one of us can make cancer go away, but together, we can be a contribution to making a difference.


Much Love

Tabby xxx


For more information on mental health in brass bands check out the section on this website.



The Blog written by Tabby Kerwin and members of the Mode for... team focussing on possibility, productivity &  performance, with a focus on resilience, creativity & mental health.