Music Therapist Kirsty Ormston and Drama and Movement Therapist Amy Keenan both joined Noah’s Ark in September. In these newly-created roles they will be working with individual children, young people and their families to enrich their experience of life and help them communicate in a variety of ways.

According to Kirsty: “Everybody reacts to music in some way, whether that’s how it makes you feel or move. It’s a form of communication for everyone.”

“As a Music Therapist you’re trained to observe physical and emotional cues and interpret them into music; giving the person you’re working with a greater sense of themselves and the way they relate to others.”

How might that work in practice? “We might do a ‘hello’ song to start with and then, depending on the situation, we might do a bit of free play; taking up instruments. It might be that all the child can do is move their head. If so I can create music to reflect that.”

Kirsty’s background is that of a classical musician: “I trained and worked as a professional cellist then taught cello.” She went on to work in schools helping children with a range of issues. She worked with children who had suffered abuse and in a pupil referral unit for those excluded from school.  She has also worked in a variety of special schools including a school for children and young people who are blind.

Besides the cello Kirsty plays guitar, piano and a range of smaller instruments as well as using technology – apps to create sounds for example.  Song writing is an important part of her repertoire too: “Lyric writing is another medium you can communicate through and I’ve run song writing days for Hospices. It can be a useful means of expressing ourselves in words.”

Kirsty also has experience in working with families towards the end of a child’s life, “using Music Therapy to support sibling groups and build experiences that help families through the whole journey.”

Amy Keenan’s role is about using the techniques of drama, such as role play, storytelling and movement, to help people express themselves.  It’s also about exploring emotions; by making connections with characters in different situations.

“Drama and play are the ways children and young people communicate – their natural way of expressing themselves,” explains Amy.  “For some children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions drama is a really good way of aiding them in their development.”

Amy did a degree in psychology before training as a Drama and Movement Therapist at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  Since then she’s worked with children, young people and adults with learning disabilities. She’s also worked with people with mental health issues and brain injuries.

“While training I worked as a carer for children with very complex and life-threatening conditions, so I have a lot of experience with children and young people similar to those that Noah’s Ark supports. I have also done a lot of bereavement work in my training and placements. For me the job brought together all my interests, experience and passions.”