Outsider Music at The Clarendon in Hornsey
- Credit: Archant
Islington music producer and therapist Jon Hall has been working with patients with acute mental ill health to make confidence boosting songs, raps and videos
From topping the dance charts to working in mental health has been a long and interesting road for music producer Jon Hall.
The Islington resident has been bringing his portable studio into North London’s acute mental health wards as part of his music therapy sessions.
And the results will be showcased when 10 ex-patients perform their original songs, raps, poetry, videos and covers at the Clarendon Recovery College in Hornsey on Saturday.
“I started bringing a studio into the hospital to work with the patients,” says the trained music therapist.
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“It can be hard to engage because they are in a place that’s frightening to them, but recording a song is a good way to build trust. “We were making songs and videos and with my experience of being in a band, I was mentoring them about the idea of live performance.
“When they leave hospital and go back into the community, I meet them to continue creating music.”
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The music itself is “not the main ingredient,” says Hall, who was part of New Wave synth group Kiss The Pink in the 80s and later produced 90s dance hits.
“One of the most amazing things is the change in perspective by staff and the public. They see the people they were looking after looking animated, looking like stars, rather than seeing them through the deficit of their diagnosis.
“On one level I am linking them back into the world through the music - they step through this portal when they perform live. It helps them feel better about themselves and what they can achieve and in doing so helps them to rejoin the world.”
Hall was amazed by the wealth of talent he found among the sectioned patients, but has been “cagey” about pushing their work into the commercial realm.
“Lots of people are very talented, with amazing things to say, but their vulnerability means they couldn’t cut it with the madness of the music industry. The celebrity would destroy them. Some would even feel people were stealing their music if it was on a CD.”
Funded by Big Lottery, Hall’s events have been a good half way house to stage live performance and allow the music to be heard.
“The beneficial thing is they are making something they didn’t believe they could make and expressing all the chaos, humour, fun and tragedy in their lives. It can be very moving and give the audience a real insight into mental health, removing that stigma.”
Now nearly 60, Hall no longer works in the music industry.
“We never made it huge but we had a fantastic time, I stopped producing records because I had outgrown thinking about what the latest vibe was. Music therapy is being used more and more to treat anxiety and depression and this feels so much more meaningful.”
The Outsider Music event takes place at The Clarendon Recovery College in Clarendon Road N8 on March 29 at 7-9pm. For details email firstname.lastname@example.org