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"... on the Mind"

By modefor, Apr 4 2020 09:56AM

As we prepare to enter week three of the COVID-19 lockdown here in the UK, some people have settled into a new routine nicely, whilst others are struggling to mentally deal with the constraints of isolation and the lack of freedom.

That mood swing, that moment of judgement of the words or actions of someone else when they are actually just supporting others, that feeling of calmness, that moment of frustration? Familiar? Let me introduce you to your mental health.

We all have mental health; that is something that connects us all and now, more than ever our feelings and emotions will be constantly fluctuating and that will have a direct correlation to the positioning on our personal mental health continuum, which will be ever changing, but there are things we can do to support our own mental health.

This week, one of the best things we can do is get involved with some of the amazing free events both on and off-line which can support our mental health by giving our mood a boost, getting us moving and making us part of a fun and appreciative group of likeminded people.

Here’s a suggestion of five things you can plan and do for free next week to support your mental health during week three of lockdown.

1. The Virtual Piano Bar

Monday to Saturday evenings from 6-8pm you can join the incredible professional pianist Nigel Wears in his Virtual Piano Bar, direct from his home!

Music has huge positive benefits on wellbeing and this is two hours of incredible piano playing and sing-a-longs of popular melodies, complete with lyrics if you need them and you can make requests.

The regular clientele are warm and welcoming and the ambience is laid back, easy going and a great break from the reality of the outside world with lots of easy going chat and ‘happy banter’.

You can drop Nigel a few pounds in his virtual tip jar to show your appreciation as you would if you were in a real piano bar, and if you join on Tuesday nights you can be part of some amazing charity fundraising too, which, in the last two weeks has raised nearly £700 for two charities, the Salvation Army Foodbank and the NHS frontline staff at Leeds Teaching Hospitals via the charity Leeds Cares.

The next charity nights are Tuesday 7th and 14th

Nigel is not only a first-class musician but an incredibly generous and kind-hearted soul and his music will entertain you and send your mind some much needed calming vibes.

Check out (and like) his page, schedule the date in your diary and join the musical fun at: www.facebook.com/nigelwearspianist

2. Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Assuming you’re not showing signs of any COVID-19 symptoms or physically struggling in any other way (in which case please take stringent self-isolation measures and stay safe and protect others too), you are possibly taking your regular daily constitutional around your local area (and please stay local).

Whilst out and about, take the opportunity to look up and around and spot some of the thousands of pictures of rainbows which have been placed in windows for people to enjoy.

A sign of hope and solidarity, they bring a smile to your face.

Why don’t you get your colouring pencils out too and find your inner artist to add to the joy for other people. The process of drawing is a good therapy and bringing a smile to someone else’s face is definitely gratifying and good for the soul.

3. Word Power

Books and reading are a huge boost for mental wellbeing. Whether it’s a good novel, autobiography or self-help manual, books can give us the words and boost our mind needs.

The audiobook platform Audible has said that, for as long as schools are shut, anyone can listen to a vast range of audiobooks for free so you can get yourself some good titles there without having to turn a page!

Also, if you tap into Amazon ‘free Kindle books’ you’ll find some free titles for Kindle.

Why not get together with friends online via Zoom, WhattsApp or Houseparty and set-up a book club where you all read or listen to the same book and then chat about it.

Even better, get creative, get writing and find your inner storyteller. As a breed, humans have always historically been storytellers. Put your stories on the page and bring them to life for yourself and others to enjoy.

4. Games Night!

A good thing that has come out of the COVID-19 lockdown is the increase in positive online social communication, whereby family and friends who live near and far apart are hooking-up online to hang out, chat and make sure they feel socially connected.

You don’t just need to limit your online sessions to chat though; you can turn it into a games night!

Quizzes and karaoke work well, as do board games such as Trivial Pursuit or other trivia games to give your mind a little work out.

If you’re a fan of the mildly inappropriate and often play Cards Against Humanity then you can check out this version called ‘Remote Insensitivity’ which you can play online with friends at http://playingcards.io/game/remote-insensitivity

Anything that brings a feeling of social connection and an opportunity for laughter is good for the soul and seeing faces into that bargain gives us a sense of connection and ‘normality.’

5. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!

Trying to keep your own mind in check and entertain the kids? Then why not combine the two on your daily walk?

As well as looking for rainbows, why not keep your eyes open for some bears too?

There’s a nationwide bear hunt on; they’re getting up to all sorts of fun stuff in people’s windows and gardens, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled.

Why not pop a bear in your window too to help keep the children (and adults!) entertained?


So, there you have it; five of my suggestions to schedule and try out next week during lockdown that will help support your mental health and wellbeing. There are plenty more ideas though and I could go on for ages with recommendations (such as a day at Chester Zoo, online concerts and music rehearsals, free musicals and more), but just have a little search online yourself or ask a neighbour whilst out on your daily walk (from a safe and acceptable 2m distance of course!).

Whatever you do, make sure you do something every day that supports your mental health and wellbeing and together we will get through this and be stronger for it.

Most importantly, keep communicating, keep talking and keep sharing the highs and the lows. We are all in this together.

Much Love, stay home, stay safe and keep smiling

Tabby xxx

Ps. If you want something to read then you can download the digital PDF version of my book 'The Three

Ps: Possibility, Productivity & Performance' for just £2.99 at https://sowl.co/g1Fc2 or for something amazing to listen to, download the digital version of the album ‘Lago’ at http://modeforpublishing.com/audio/4594750000. Both are great for the mind and spirit!

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.

By modefor, Jul 12 2019 01:34PM

On Saturday 20th July, Mode for's... Tabby, will present the findings of a new report into the current state of mental health in brass bands at the esteemed Brass International Festival in Durham.

The report, published by Mode for… is based on a survey instigated by Tabby earlier this year which was designed to give an overview of the effect that being in brass bands can have on mental health.

Tabby explained: “There is no doubt and plenty of evidence which shows that music and making music in groups can be incredibly good for wellbeing, however, with the statistics according to the charity ‘Mind’ that 1 in 4 adults are suffering from mental health issues and based on my own personal experiences of mental health I wanted to look further into the direct connection that playing in brass bands has on mental health.”

“In 2016, Help Musicians UK, the leading independent charity for musicians in the UK, commissioned Sally Anne Gross and Dr. George Musgrave, MusicTank / University of Westminster to conduct a study into the mental health issues faced by musicians and the wider music industry as part of its MAD (Music and Depression) campaign. Whilst this covered a wide demographic of 2211 musicians it did not specifically focus on the medium of brass bands. That survey found that musicians may be up to three times more likely to suffer from depression compared to the general public.”

“The intention of this survey was to see if musicians specifically in the brass band movement suffered the same mental health issues as musicians in the wider music industry and to see if the statistics correlated, with a view to implementing necessary information, support and mental health provisions into the brass band movement,” confirmed Tabby.

“The findings did marry up and it is evident that due to the competitive and volatile environment of the brass band movement, many brass band musicians are suffering from mental ill health. Now, with this evidence, I want to research further and more importantly develop more information and support for musicians within the brass band movement. Recently I trained as a mental health first aider and I am keen to spread that knowledge and awareness of mental health issues so they are commonplace in bandrooms. There is a high percentage of brass band musicians suffering from nerves, anxiety, panic attacks and depression but of our survey sample of 328 respondents, only 1.5% of the bands they are in membership of have any kind of mental health provision. Mental health is more important than physical health in many ways and we need greater awareness to support each other and, ultimately, look after our brass band musicians so we can keep the brass band movement strong.”

“It has always been and still is awkward to talk about mental health, but these are awkward conversations I am not afraid to start and share my experiences to help other people, which is why mental health, with a focus on musicians and brass bands is becoming the focal point and priority for myself and everything we do at Mode for…”

The presentation on this report, when Tabby will be joined by other speakers to discuss wellbeing for brass musicians, forms part of the festival’s Healthy Brass Day at 4pm on Saturday 20th July at Elvet Riverside, Durham University.

To read the full report and report summary, visit www.modefor.co.uk

By modefor, Jun 17 2019 02:04PM

Ten years ago, I fell out of love with something that had been my longest love and passion.

The effect of being so involved with it led me to some very dark places and nine years ago I was broken into so many pieces, fixing me seemed impossible. Yet, we carried on in a fairly ‘amicable’ yet distant relationship all this time, doing what we had to just to get through and put a public façade on the situation.

But, sat in a caravan on a Friday evening in June 2019, the passion was re-ignited.

No, this wasn’t a relationship with a person. This was my relationship with brass bands.

Over the years I’ve been a player, supporter, conductor, journalist, adjudicator and totally immersed in the movement. But for the last ten years, to me brass bands have been my greatest nemesis.

For as long as I can remember my whole life revolved around brass bands. Everything I had was thrown into it; emotionally, personally, publicly and financially and that’s why, when my mental health took a battering and I couldn’t carry on personally, the movement as a whole incurred my wrath.

I was wrong; It wasn’t the brass band movement I fell out of love with…and it’s taken ten years to realise that passion for brass music is still so much there, and the real key to that was judging 57 bands in Diggle playing marches on Whit Friday 2019!

Listening to those bands I remembered there is something so wonderful about the sound of a brass band and that music is magical. To be honest, I’d lost so much of my passion for music as a whole over the last decade, but slowly music, not the brass band movement, has helped fix me… along with an awful lot of learning, developing and change of everything in my life.

So, what really broke me, my mental health and my passions to the degree that it made me pack-up my banding career for such a long time? Well, honestly, it was the combination of my head and the environment and my perceptions of the actions of people within the brass band music plus feeling very alone despite being surrounded by so many. I was consumed by it all. It was never the music and the genre of brass bands itself.

When your mental wellbeing and health is at a low point you don’t always realise at first. You are so engrossed in life, trying to juggle all the plates and please everyone you stop doing what you need and know is right for you personally and carry on blindly. When your personal life is also massively entwined with what you do, this also allows scope for additional stress and putting yourself to the back of the queue time and time again in a bid to make sure everyone and everything else is taken care of. The only person that then ultimately suffers is you, but by the time you realise this it can be too late; the joy, happiness and your health have flown the nest.

This was what I was doing and it destroyed me. The stress became anxiety that manifested in mental and physical forms from sickness to absolute fear of seeing certain people, yet they hadn’t a clue that was how they made me feel. I would see people I associated with situations, shake, panic and immediately feel nauseous. However, you put the game face on and keep performing; quite literally.

I broke down and the worst of it was, the people around me (apart from one) didn’t see it, so, with the knowledge that no-one was noticing me drowning combined with the personal shame I felt because ten years ago, mental health was even more taboo than it is now, I just ploughed straight on carrying on doing everything for everyone else, sweeping my own health and needs under the carpet.

The upshot? Total breakdown, total resentment and having nothing and no-one. I knew I couldn’t carry on with everything I had known and in my broken brain, that everything was brass bands. So, our relationship had to end… well, not completely, because I still needed it to some degree over the last 10 years, but that was why I fell out of love with it and we assumed an ‘amicable friendship’ (and trust me, those aren’t always as amicable as you make out!).

To this day, only one person has truly understood the decision I had to make to leave things behind and since then I’ve progressively tried to re-build, this time stronger and with a different, more sustainable design. Still to this day people in brass bands don’t understand or believe I was that ‘weak’ person then because I’ve always come across as resilient, strong and confident. It was a façade… so every time someone would judge me as that person, it made another part of my cry and die inside. What’s more, now, today, when I am honestly and truly me, they think I’ve ‘lost the plot’ now because I’m not who I was then… the person you knew 10 years ago was in fact the one who had ‘lost the plot,’ – this person here today is not her. I’ve spent ten years learning, developing and strengthening away from you all and during that time I’ve got so much wrong and a hell of a lot more right to get where I am mentally.

What I thought ten years ago and for so much time afterwards was that I was alone in this, partially because I hid it and partially because no-one saw what was happening to me, which in a broken brain makes you hide and resent even more; and just when I thought I was beating it in 2017, the relapse hit and it hit me like a truck, but second time round you’re more aware of how to fix and manage it and this time I got to the bottom of understanding it all, learning, developing and finding strength I never thought I had. A strength that meant when the absolute worst thing that could have happened did, when my husband Simon died, I didn’t break, it made me stronger, because over the last decade he’d helped me learn and find every skill and confidence I needed to be me. This was the first time in my adult life I had this strength.

Now, I’m going to save you all the details here of my life, but if you’re really interested just ask me as I can happily and easily talk about it now that I understand myself, mental health and everything that happened.

But let’s cut to the wider issue of mental health in the brass band movement, because what I am totally aware of now is, I’m not the only person that has, is or will suffer from mental ‘ill’ health as a result of being in brass bands and we can do much better to support ourselves and each other within the brass band movement.

What I understand now is it’s not ‘brass bands’ that cause the issues, but the situations and environments we find ourselves in within the brass band movement as a whole, with little industry support or understanding for the effects these have on our mental health. Situations such as:

• Pushing ourselves to reach ever increasing standards

• Taking on workloads we cannot manage on top of our personal and professional lives

• Relationships with peers

• Relationships with management

• Anxiety and stress as a consequence of competition

• Performance anxiety and stress

• Commitments on time

• Travel commitments and distance

• Inter-band politics and ‘sackings’

• Pressure put on oneself

• Behaviour of conductors

• Judgement – from judges, press, critics, audiences, conductors and peers.

There is a strong likelihood that you too will have experienced one or more of these scenarios and for people already struggling with their health and wellbeing, just one of these scenarios is enough to knock their mental equilibrium.

If we implemented support networks in our own brass bands and the brass band movement as a whole, we could see real change in terms of less players bowing out of the brass band game due to pressures and anxiety.

In March 2019 I launched a survey to gather information on the topic of mental health in brass bands and I have so much gratitude to the 328 people who took the time to complete it and comment on their experiences.

In July 2019 I will publish the full report into my findings, but initial reading confirms my thoughts that I was not the only person who had such experiences and I know there are many more people not yet brave enough to talk about their own experiences too.

But I will talk about it and I will be open about my own experiences and be proud of what I was, went through, my vulnerabilities and success and how far I’ve come because it has been one hell of a journey over the last decade and I will champion the cause that we all take better care of ourselves and each other to promote better mental health in the brass band movement.

I will write regularly about it and invite anyone else to join me in speaking and writing about it, sharing stories and experiences on this blog in the hope that my and your honesty together can help just one person to have the confidence to put themselves first, look after their own mental wellbeing and continue the passion and love in, and for, this fabulous genre of brass music.

I can’t wait to hear from you and your experiences and just know my virtual ‘door’ is always open to you all.

Oh, and a huge thank you to all those bands on Whit Friday who locked in the final piece of my brass band mind puzzle to give me the passion back.

Much Love

Tabby xxx

By modefor, May 15 2019 07:08AM

This year the 99th Spring Brass Band Festival in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens falls in #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek (13-19 May), so what better time to talk about brass bands and mental wellbeing? One of my favourite topics.

In March I launched a survey about mental health in brass bands following my own lifetime of experience as a player, manager, conductor, judge, reporter and someone who also felt the need to turn my back on the movement for a while.

A huge thank you to everyone that has contributed so far (it’s not too late as I’ll keep it open until the end of May before I publish the results). The results are interesting as are the accompanying comments, but one thing that strikes me, though I wasn’t surprised, is the correlation between weakened mental health in bandspeople and contesting.

Nerves, anxiety, attempts to reach perfection and attain standards set by others all compacted by the judgement of others, whether that be fellow band members, conductors, judges or audience members are all contributing factors that affect so many brass band musicians on the contest platform and has resulted in players giving up for good in the worst case scenarios.

So, how can we address it and this #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek as a starting point, make things a little better for all those struggling and heading to Blackpool to compete this weekend?

Firstly, here are a few of the things to remember if you’re a musician performing in any brass band contest.

• Breathe… and breathe properly…. It’s the fundamental key to not only playing well, but controlling nerves. In those nerve fuelled moments, simply focus on the breath.

• Look after yourself first and foremost. Give yourself time to be places and do things. Be organised and don’t rush on contest day to keep control of your nerves. Focus on your job and your personal performance.

• Be kind and supportive to your fellow musicians. You might not know what’s really going on in their life or head. Support those who have jobs to do as well, like band managers or librarians.

• Be a contribution. Focus on your part and do it the best you can. The whole performance is not on you, you’re responsible for your own part so be the best contribution you can be. If everyone contributes excellence individually the effect is magical.

• Don’t strive for success, but strive for satisfaction. Success is measured by others, but satisfaction comes from within. Be satisfied, happy and content in your own performance by being the best you can be.

• There is no perfection, it doesn’t exist, so scrap that pressure, but what you can try to achieve is excellence.

• Other people’s opinions are not your concern… Yes, that’s right, even the judges. Their opinion is out of your control and subjective. What you control is your personal performance so make that excellent by your own standards.

• Know that your goal on the day is completely possible, if you’ve put the work in via a good productive plan and now you get to give your best performance (it’s the Three Ps: Possibility, Productivity & Performance).

• Also remember the four Cs: Confidence, Competence, Clarity & Communication.

• Enjoy yourself. You have a gift and a passion and regardless of whether it’s a concert or contest platform, be present, be involved and give yourself the best experience. Being fully prepared physically and mentally will help with this.

• Trust in the music. Make it about and for the music. Music is powerful and what feelings sound like. Let those feelings be heard.

The above is nothing you probably don’t know, but they’re points we often forget. But the most important thing is to put yourself first, look after you and then those around you and if all your band members do this, the collective result will be a performance to remember and that’s what we’re interested in, great performances that give us great experiences.

There are also other people that can help look after the mental wellbeing of our brass band musicians both in the lead up to the contest and on the day.

Conductors: (Disclaimer…. This next comment does not apply to all conductors, but a small proportion… and I’ve met and worked with plenty of them)

Just because you have the stick does not mean you have to be a **** with it (fill in with your own 4-letter word). You have a duty of care to the musicians around you and their physical and mental wellbeing. This game is not about your ego… it is about music. Treat the music, musicians and history of the movement and bands within it with respect, always.

Adjudicators: Your professional opinion is a well-respected asset, please use it wisely. Your words speak volumes and resonate for years so as well as being professional and honest, most importantly be kind.

Audience Members: Maybe you could do it better, maybe you couldn’t… opinions are subjective… support the performances… all of them; a lot of effort has gone into it, whether you like it or not and regardless of its standard.

Press: Just like adjudicators your words speak volumes and will resonate for years. BUT… you are not the adjudicators, you are there to support the movement and report for those who cannot be there. Your job is a privilege, handle with care!

As a collective we play in brass bands because we love the music and camaraderie. It is a unique movement. Let’s enjoy every moment, play great music and share experiences with friends.

I’m wishing great performance vibes to everyone competing in Blackpool this weekend. Enjoy every moment. There will be qualifiers and bravo to them and every single band that puts in so much effort for this historical brass band festival. Look after yourself and your fellow bands folk and I hope you’ll carry on this conversation about the importance of mental health and brass bands with me soon.

If you haven’t yet completed my survey, results of which will be published in the Summer and hopefully be put to good use for the benefit of our musicians and movement you can find it here: https://forms.gle/Vr2uXfWLmrKsMQzq9

For more info on my book The Three Ps and other music from Mode for…Publishing, head on over to www.modeforpublishing.com

Much Love

Tabby xxx

The Blog written by Tabby Kerwin focussing on possibility, productivity &  performance, with a focus on resilience, creativity & mental health.