By PSS | Posted: Wednesday July 11, 2018
Piano, guitar, cello, banjo, ukulele, jaw harp – you name the instrument and Jamie Macdonald can most probably play it.
The Enliven Music Therapist says he simply can’t not play an instrument he sees; “I get an itch in my fingers and I just have to try it,” he says with a laugh.
Jamie, born and bred in Southland, has long been a music lover.
After finishing high school he studied both music and psychology at the University of Otago.
He then spent two years working as a support worker in Dunedin, mostly working alongside young men with intellectual disabilities who had been through the court system for one reason or another.
While it was a role he loved, music was still calling, and so he moved to Wellington where he spent two years completing a Masters in Music Therapy.
With good timing and good management, Jamie ended up back in Invercargill and accepting a role as Enliven’s Music Therapist.
It’s a role he finds hard to summarise; largely because of the differing needs of the residents and the scope of the work, but it’s one he (and the residents he works alongside) absolutely loves.
“I work with individuals and groups. With groups it’s about fostering that sense of community, helping residents get that social and emotional support from each other, using music as a tool. With individuals, sometimes it is people who are unwell, so it’s about how can we use music to facilitate them to get back into the community or, if that’s not possible, how can we use it for social and emotional support.”
“We also run groups at Iona (the dementia wing of Peacehaven Village), which is fantastic. It’s particularly special for me when family can be involved in those sessions. They may have loved ones who are generally quite uncommunicative, but when they see them singing, dancing and getting involved, it really is quite powerful for them to see that.”
A typical day could see Jamie take three or more group music sessions, as well as work alongside individuals.
Many of the sessions are resident-led which, Jamie says, is all part of the fun.
While Jamie is passionate about music, he also has a strong understanding of the impact it can have on people from a neurological perspective, which helps him to better connect with residents regardless of their health status.
Outside of work, Jamie enjoys travelling and camping, and says that, as a “yes person”, he rarely finds himself with spare time.
He has recently bought his own home in Invercargill, so is staying put for the foreseeable future – something Enliven residents will no doubt be thrilled about.
Life tip: Look at the stars more often. They remind us that we are adrift together in an enormous universe; we're in this together and must offer each other kindness and compassion.
Most played song: If I Had a Hammer
Favourite colour: Purple
Ideal holiday destination: Rakiura
Favourite hobby: Tramping and camping
Why you have a love for older people: Because they deserve love. And in exchange for our love they offer us such a wealth of knowledge and insight into our history and heritage.
Last book you read: Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. An old sci-fi about a comet threatening to collide with earth. I love old sci-fi books.