Otakar Kraus Music Trust

| Azad Sharma

We often come across the recurring themes of stories and what it means to really listen in our work with communities. And there is often the tendency to assume that stories will be told with words. But what happens if the person speaking to you does not speak in a language you understand, a language that is non-verbal? What happens if in order to empower someone to find their voice we have to become more receptive to a different way of listening?

Music can offer a useful bridge between the non-verbal story and the act of listening. Most of us enjoy music and we associate music with our emotions. Music also tells stories and has a therapeutic value. It can increase our wellbeing in a way that is outside of traditional medical models of health and of care. The Otakar Kraus Music Trust (OKMT) who provide Music Therapy for children and adults living with a spectrum of learning difficulties are a great example of an organisation with a different approach to improving wellbeing. Check out this amazing video which tells their story and is a testimony to the power of music:

The story of the Otakar Kraus Music Trust

The Otakar Kraus Music Trust was established as a charity in Twickenham, South West London in 1991 by Dr. Margaret Lobo with the aim of helping those with communication difficulties regain the power of their voice. In 1993, Margaret and her husband Walter constructed an accessible music studio in their home fully kitted out with pianos, drums, and other instruments. Margaret and Walter also filled the studio with their ethos: to provide Music Therapy in their local community regardless of ability, age, race, or economic status.

The Otakar Kraus Music Trust offer a unique type of Music Therapy that covers individual and group lessons as well as two yearly concerts (Summer and Christmas). They have qualified Music Therapists who deliver a unique type of care and support to many in South West London. They support almost 3000 individual and over 600 group music therapy sessions each year for over 230 people. And they focus on the whole family, not just the individual, teaching children, their siblings and their parents how to bond through music.

Music is a universal language

What we really love about OKMT’s work is their holistic and broad approach to music therapy. Their main focus is on children and adults living with learning difficulties, but in partnership with Homelink Respite Care Centre in Whitton, OKMT provide group music therapy sessions for elderly people with diagnosed memory problems. Their Youth Choir also encourages bonding through music between children and adults with learning difficulties and their siblings. And they aren’t just working in the UK! In 2005, Margaret Lobo introduced clinical music therapy to India founding The Music Therapy Trust, and to Nepal in 2010, where she set up The Music Therapy Trust Nepal.

To find out more about the Otakar Kraus Music Trust check out their collection of films or find them on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube. Happy listening!

Photo by Laith Abuabdu

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