Journal article by Tina Warnock

Journal article by Tina Warnock

Please follow this link to download Tina’s latest article: ‘Vocal Connections: How Voicework in Music Therapy Helped a Young Girl with Severe Learning Disabilities and Autism to Engage in her Learning’

This online journal Approaches:Music Therapy and Special Music Education is published bi-annually and is free to download.

Essay from the ‘British Journal of Music Therapy’ by Tina Warnock: ‘Voice and the Self in Improvised Music Therapy’

This essay by Belltree’s Head of Service Tina Warnock has just been published in Vol. 25 No. 2 of the British Journal of Music Therapy. To read it in PDF, click the following link: Voice and the Self in Improvised Music Therapy.

If you would like to subscribe to the journal, become a member of the British Association for Music Therapy at This is also a great way to support the growth and development of the profession.

Listen to Tina Warnock’s Colourful Radio interview

To listen to Tina’s recent radio interview about Belltree and National Music Therapy Week, follow this link:

Select number 14 (2011-06-03-1100) and skip to 42 minutes on the player.

Tina was interviewed by Colourful Radio’s Karla Williams.

Upcoming events during National Music Therapy Week

Songs for Belltree – Wednesday 8th June. 7pm – 11pm.

Brighton’s Latest Music Bar presents ‘Songs For Belltree’ on Wednesday 8th June.  The gig is part of a series of nationwide events supporting the UK’s first ever National Music Therapy Week (6 – 11th June 2011) and features an enviable line up of artists including Kate Walsh, Lucky Jim, Eddie Myer (Turin Brakes) Sarah Jay (Massive Attack) and rising star James Bay.

Doors at 7pm – 11pm.  Tickets are available from:

Brighton is celebrating National Music Therapy Week with a series of events across the city including ‘An Introduction to Music Therapy’ for health care professionals and interested members of the public.

The nationwide event will see music therapists across the UK work together to promote positive awareness of music therapy through the communication of case studies and news using a network of e – newsletters, magazines, music events and talks all supported by a programme of social networking and PR.

An Introduction To Music Therapy  – Monday 6th June at Komedia.

Music therapists from Sussex will present information and case studies to show how music therapy can be of benefit to many people, particularly those with communication and emotional difficulties related to disability, illness or injury. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions to music therapists with a wide range of experience.

 6pm – 8.15pm.  Entry is £3 on the door

Busking for Belltree- 7th & 8th June

Students of Brighton Institute of Modern Music are supporting ‘Busking for Belltree’ on Tuesday 7th June by performing at the piazza of ‘ Churchill Square Shopping Centre (12 – 3pm) and again on Wednesday 8th June at the Pavilion Gardens (12 – 3pm) with students from the prestigious music college performing alongside students from Downs View Link College to raise money and awareness of the benefits of music therapy.

Upcoming radio interviews with Tina Warnock

For those  interested in finding out more about the events of National Music Therapy Week and Belltree, Tina Warnock will be appearing on Brighton’s Radio Reverb this Thursday at 17:30 with Brighton Institute of Modern Music student Anna Rice.

If you don’t catch that, tune in to Colourful Radio on Friday at 11:35 to hear Tina discussing music therapy on Life with Karla Williams.

 On Monday 6th, Tina will be talking on Juice FM at 8:25 in the morning.  

In other air wave news, Radio 3’s  Music Matters  is to feature a story about The British Association for Music Therapy and the latest research in the field. It will be airing this Saturday, 4th of June at 12:15.

Radio Reverb is on 97.2 FM and

Colourful Radio is available at

Juice FM is on 107.2 FM and

For details on the Radio 3 show, go to

Interview with Belltree’s founder, music therapist Tina Warnock

I recently caught up with Belltree Music Therapy Centre’s Tina Warnock, and asked her to share her thoughts on music therapy, Belltree Centre and National Music Therapy Week…

Could you briefly define ‘music therapy’ for those who are new to the idea of the treatment?

 TW: I feel the best way to describe music therapy is to say that it’s a psychological therapy, because immediately you understand the depth of the training. Sometimes people assume that it’s music-making for fun. Music therapy is a psychological therapy which uses the qualities of music as a tool to work with- to communicate with people who find it difficult with words. It’s not necessarily about a tune or something that sounds pleasant, but using sounds and rhythm, silence and all the parts that make up music to communicate.

What was it that drew you to music therapy in the beginning- was it a single event, or culmination of experiences?

TW: It was the single event of reading that music therapy exists, which was like a light bulb coming on. But that reaction was due to the fact that music had always been important to me. I was becoming a singer, and I was building relationships with people that seemed to be much richer than I’d had previously, through sharing music making together. I was quite shy as a teenager but playing the piano helped me to find those connections with myself and others, that I didn’t find it that easy before.

How do you typically conduct your sessions?

TW: Well generally, you allow the client to lead the session; I find a place within the room, at the piano or on a chair with my guitar, and if they’re quite young I would greet them with a song that we sang every week to say ‘hello’. Not necessarily a jolly song- it’s quite open, but it’s a way that’s quite useful for autistic children or young children. Sometimes, they’ll just come in and start bashing on the drums immediately, but that sets the tone, and I’ll perhaps play the piano to join in with them, and then we take it from there really.

So it’s relative approach for each person, then?

TW: It’s totally different for each person, yes, depending on their personality, state of mind and the nature of their difficulties. If I’m doing a group session with young children, I tend to structure it quite tightly at the beginning, and then as they get to know that, we can open it out so that the music can go off in a different direction. We’d start and end it in the same way every week, because these are often children that find it difficult to manage change and unpredictability.

Could you tell me a bit about the history of Belltree Music Therapy Centre- when it was founded, and to what end?

TW: I was working in London, part-time, but I was also working four sessions a week at Down’s View School, and I was not enjoying going up to London anymore. Then one of Down’s View’s buildings was vacated by the sixth-formers. I realised that space was available and that coincided with my thoughts of wanting to set something up locally. So, I chatted to the head and we came to an arrangement- which rooms I could use, and I just dived into it, really. I operated as a sole-trader under my name to start with, and then after a year I changed it to a community interest company. I drew advice from my local business link and business community partnership that gave guidance on how to start up a business.

Sounds very much like you had to learn on your feet.

TW: I went to all kinds of seminars and workshops, made a business plan and realised it wasn’t making much money. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been three years now…  I’m that kind of person- you want something to happen, you talk about it for a bit, then you get on and do it.

I was trying to create a place where music therapists could learn from each other and could have a shared working life. It’s very easy to just be isolated and surrounded by people who don’t understand what it is you do. It’s much nicer to have colleagues.

 And it’s coming together slowly- I mean, we’re starting to make decisions together now and even though it’s my company- I’m the director, we’ve got a management committee so different therapists are helping to lead in different client groups.

It’s very difficult because some parts of the country have had this for twenty years, so it’s frustrating that it takes so long…

I suppose in that sense you’re not only building your business, you’re attempting to build awareness locally?

TW: The NHS around here has never had a music therapy post, where other areas have had them for twenty years, so it’s really about infiltrating a system that thinks ‘I don’t need it’. It is very difficult to get into some hospital systems- you have to do a pilot study for six months, get to know them and show them the value of what you do, and then they might consider it. There’s quite a lot of that when you start out- giving your time and expertise for free in order to try and get yourself some work.

Do you feel that as time goes by, more people are becoming aware of the benefits of music therapy?

TW: Yeah, I think it is growing, and with the internet it’s easier to get information to pop up in people’s computers- you know, without them even wanting it there (laughs).  I still think there’s a lot of misconception about what we do, and why it’s different to a normal music group.

Do you find that frustrating? What’s the most irritating misconception that someone might come to you with?

TW: I find it less irritating than I used to. You come out of training and you feel you’ve got to be the purest practitioner and you think everyone should be more aware than they are. Now I understand why they’re not, and if I wasn’t a music therapist, I probably wouldn’t be either.

You’ve just got to realise that it’s normal not to know, because you can’t come into sessions and watch, so unless you’ve been to a talk to see videos and had a presentation, you’re not going to know. But, lots of music therapists do get frustrated.

What would you say are the key differences between music therapy and other therapies- apart from the use of music as opposed to another method?

TW: The unique properties of music. You can play notes on a harp that just give you a feeling immediately, or you could play on a drum kit and it makes you feel a certain way. Choose any instrument, and normally it has an emotional response for each person. Not the same one for each sound, because that’s quite individual according to your personal history, but I think because music is a physical vibration as well, it works in quite a holistic, whole-body, kind of way. The associations are very, very strong with each person. So it’s that access to emotion, that fast access to emotions, and way of expressing feelings without saying anything that is most important.

With art or play therapy, you might use verbal interpretation more necessarily. We do use it, but it doesn’t have to be used for the experience to be meaningful. There’s a debate about that within music therapy itself, especially between people who work with mentally ill adults- do they need to be able to discuss what’s going on in the music verbally to make the most of the therapy? Or is the musical interaction itself enough?

In your work, you co-operate with doctors and parents, but do you ever have any contact with other arts therapists?

TW: Occasionally, but not very often. I know there are NHS teams who have whole art therapy departments, but these seem to have disseminated more into teams with specialist members, rather than specialist departments, which is a bit of a shame.

Sometimes I do recommend someone goes to, say, a play therapist because they’re so resistant to the music. They might start building towers from drums and chatting to the shaker, so while I could work with them, and get supervision from a play therapist, sometimes it’s better to refer them on.

What is your involvement in National Music Therapy Week, and what do you hope it achieves?

TW: I’m part of the trust that formulated the idea. I go to quite regular meetings in London, and with the formation of the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT), two organisations are coming together, so it’s the launch of quite an important change in the way we operate. Before, there was a charity that would inform the public and put on events, and a professional body, whereas now it’s all one thing. So the idea is to launch it. BAMT’s main aim as a charity is to be of public benefit, so you need to plan a launch which is about public awareness and public benefit so people know it’s going to a be helpful intervention.

I think it’s good to be involved with the national organisation because it helps with Belltree, and the fact that people aren’t that aware in this area. It’s also good experience for me as well; I’m getting into the heart of what’s happening nationally.

There is the ‘An Introduction to Music Therapy’ on the 6th June, and the ‘Songs for Belltree’ gig on the 8th, are there any other events coming up nationally or locally that you’d like people to know about?

TW: There are various things in London. For example, there’s a day of talks going on at the Greenwich NHS trust, there’s an event on Sutton High Street, where they have the shopping centre and a band playing and lots of stuff going on there. All around the country, people are opening up their music therapy rooms, and allowing people to come and ask questions, so there will be a lot going on, but not that many large events- maybe eight to ten around the country.

Many thanks for your time, Tina. Best of luck with Music Therapy Week and Belltree.

Tina will be conducting several radio interviews in conjunction with National Music Therapy Week. Tune in to Colourful Radio ( ) at 11:30am on Friday 3rd of June, and Radio Reverb (97.2 FM or ) at 5pm on Thursday 2nd June to hear more.

The Great Music Therapy Week Improvisation

The day: Sunday 22nd May 2011. The time: between 5pm and 7pm. A live, online improvisation between ensembles around the country will be taking place to promote National Music Therapy Week.

Groups in Faversham, London, Bristol, Yorkshire and
Scotland will all be listening and responding to a preprepared loop of sound-sculptor Henry Dagg playing the Sharpsicord, transmitted over Skype.

For a taste of Dagg’s remarkable sound, take a look at this video on YouTube, which shows Henry Dagg playing the saw alongside the Sharpsichord (also known as the Pin-Barrel Harp).

Dagg with the Pin-Barrel Harp

Aside from being a potentially beautiful piece of creative art, this event is also a wonderful example of how music and sound can be used to create a communicative link between people, regardless of distance.

Songs for Belltree update!

Tickets are now on sale for ‘Songs for Belltree’ at Latest MusicBar on 8th June, so get in fast to avoid disappointment! Follow the link below for yours:

An Introduction to Music Therapy- 06/06/2011

The start of National Music Therapy Week sees the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) hosting an evening dedicated to sharing knowledge about the benefits of music therapy.

Taking place at the versatile Komedia venue in the heart of Brighton, the event will include a panel of widely experienced music therapists discussing their field of treatment via presentations and case-based discussions. There will also be a question and answer session for those wanting to know more.

It’s an ideal opportunity to explore music therapy for anyone who feels that it could benefit them or others around them.  

The event runs 6.00- 8.15pm and entry is £3 on the door. All ages are welcome.

Click on the following links for more information:

Facebook event page-!/event.php?eid=156083661121446

Komedia listings-

Songs for Belltree- 08/06/2011

Some of Brighton’s most talented and exciting musicians are coming together for an evening of entertainment in support of Belltree Music Therapy Centre!

As part of National Music Therapy Week, we are working together with staff and students from the Brighton Institute of Modern Music to put on the fundraising event at Latest Music Bar on the 8th of June.

Confirmed acts for this fantastic evening include Kate Walsh, James Bay, Sarah Jay Hawley, Eddie Mayer and Adrian Oxall. With such a great lineup in an intimate venue, this is guaranteed to be  a show not to be missed!

Doors open 7:30 and tickets are £10/ £7.50 concessions.

Keep up to speed with this event by checking out the Facebook events page at:!/event.php?eid=118542424895498