Volunteer Profile – Helen Banham
Hi, my name is Helen. I first volunteered with Musical Keys back in the late 1990’s(!) whilst on a gap year before going to music college to study the flute. A few months ago an opportunity arose enabling me the time to volunteer for Musical Keys again. Its great to be part of the Musical Keys family once more and to see how much the charity has grown over the years.
I have been playing the flute since I was 8 years old and have always played in concert bands and orchestras. I am a long standing member of the Norwich City Concert Band, and you can often find us playing in different bandstands around Norwich in the summer time, at the Lord Mayors Celebration weekend or outside John Lewis and Norwich train station at Christmas. Throughout my musical career I have had the privilege to play in some of the most historical and special civic occasions and ceremonies both in the UK and in Europe. The most recently being the plaque unveiling ceremony in Norwich commemorating local WW1 heroes.
When not playing music my family takes up most of my time, and with one more baby on the way, it is only going to get more hectic! Its only been a couple of months, but volunteering for Musical Keys has been really inspirational. Seeing how much enjoyment the children get out of attending the groups and how they are growing in confidence week by week is really rewarding.
Past Volunteer profiles:
My name is Navena and I’ve been volunteering with Musical Keys for nearly a year. I’m a proud volunteer at the relentlessly lively and enjoyable Saturday group at the City College in Norwich.
By trade, I’m a final year medical student at UEA who has always enjoyed being amongst and working with young people, as well as listening to and playing music. I trained in South Indian Classical violin and vocals from a young age, performed a lot during my teenage years but lost touch once I left home. Despite having less opportunity to take part in music, I’ve always considered it to be an affirming part of my life. Undoubtedly, the work of Musical Keys was a perfect fit for my interests.
I started volunteering just as the Norwich (Saturday) group re-established itself. It’s been wonderful to see the number of young people attending our sessions increase over the last few months. I gain so much from the sessions myself (and not just the skills that myself and other volunteers have honed in speedily making hot drinks during our breaks!). I’ve been able to embed firm roots within the community here, which has no doubt influenced my choice to stay in Norwich once I finish my studies.
I look forward to seeing how Musical Keys continues to make a difference.
Navena has subsequently passed her degree and continues to volunteer at our Saturday group in Norwich.
I’m Andy, I’ve been playing in bands since I was 16. The main instruments I play are guitar and mandolin. I’ve played in a lot of bands, at the moment I play in a couple of bands but mainly the Johnny Jump band.
I also work with Good Pill, Bad Pill and do guitar set-ups and instrument repairs.
I compose as well – last year I wrote the music for Dandifest: the movie. I’ve done a PETLS course & been involved with Access to Music in the past. I think Musical Keys is a great organisation to volunteer for. I’ve been helping with the ReTune project – it’s being run over 12 weeks and it’s about more than just turning up for the sessions; you get to know the service users and see how your input benefits them.
Because I suffer from mental health problems, volunteering has given me not just empathy but true understanding. It’s important that there are projects that include a range of people with disabilities – there should be more!
Megan Collingsworth (spring 2015)
I’m Megan, a 17 year old student, and a new volunteer with Musical Keys. I’m currently studying for my A-levels in Biology, Psychology and Maths. I’ve been with Musical Keys for the past four months and considerably enjoy it. Since starting here I have attended the DXA sessions and now help at the regular Monday groups. I haven’t got any musical talents myself but love the groups and find that I’m learning as I go along, and am seeing the children progress in the short time I have been with them.
I’m taking a gap year after my A-levels next year, and then hope to either go to university or into further education to become a children’s nurse. I find nothing better than listening to live music, going to many gigs a year. I also completed a charity skydive last year raising over £500, in memory of a special family member, which contributed towards many other charity events we hold as a family. I also volunteer at a local care home for the partially sighted. I thoroughly enjoy the experience, and hope that someday I will be able to make it my career.
Alice Wright (summer 2014)
Hi, I’m Alice and I’m 20 years old. I am now coming to the end of a two year break from education, as I have accepted a place at Sussex University, studying Music. In the past two years I have been developing the acoustic band I sing and play guitar in. We have been performing around Norfolk regularly and working solidly to produce a unique sound. I am very lucky to have my day job at Woodforde’s Brewery. It truly is the funnest place to work!
Working part-time has enabled me to engage in a Music Therapy Course online too. I started with Musical Keys in May of last year at their group in Fakenham and have loved it ever since! I am now filling in at local sessions, whenever they need help. I have recently been at the NANSA centre, and it is undoubtedly the best thing I have ever done. There is nothing better than seeing youngsters engaging in music and movement and communicating through it too. My passion is music therapy. Music plays such an important role in everyone and I feel that it can be used as a release, a communication method, an outlet and a trigger to so many different emotions. I hope to study a masters in Music Therapy after my degree. Musical Keys encourages everything I believe in, which is why being such a small part of it is the greatest joy.
Ellen Sargen (winter 2013)
Hello! I am Ellen. I am 18 and have recently finished my A Levels. I play the flute, and absolutely love the experiences that playing music brings me, whether it is performing as a soloist, or travelling abroad as an ensemble to play within a different culture.
I hope to become a Music Therapist after studying at university, as I believe that music as a tool of communication is invaluable, and everybody should have the chance to express themselves through music.
I am extremely excited about volunteering, as I want to start helping everybody access music in this way. I think that the therapeutic side of music is very important, as it helps us connect and express feelings which we otherwise may not be able to. It means a great deal to me to change people’s lives in this way, and I hope I can start to make a small difference while volunteering with Musical Keys.
Corinne Livingstone (spring 2013)
Corinne, a freelance piano teacher from Norwich, has been volunteering with Musical Keys for a little under a year and has been involved in supporting the delivery of our sessions in Norwich. Corinne said “I got involved with MK because I wanted to grow and diversify my involvement in music from teaching piano and musicianship one-to-one to working within groups.
What Musical Keys does is so enabling, I’ve seen the uplifting effects and improvements their music and their movement sessions make, so it’s great to be able to contribute and play a part in that. I really appreciate the training I’ve had (Signalong next!) and the opportunity to develop my skills and broaden my experience altogether.”