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Blog Posts (13)

  • Justine's Story - Creativity, Understanding and Spirituality

    An artist who had stopped painting, Justine wrote to Jill after attending some regular group sessions for a few months: “I wanted to write to say how much I value your work … Over the last few months I think it has prompted me to acknowledge and ‘give voice’, privately, to emotions I have been sitting on for some time … and I am gradually feeling a deep sense of release. More than that, something is happening at a deeper, soul level which I think is to do with trust in the universal order of things and I am feeling that I am indeed a part of the ‘whole’. For me this is very freeing and has both released me from a sense of isolation/separateness and also ‘connected’ me again with the world and, spiritually, beyond. I feel I can now begin to tap my own inner creativity once more. I can now walk more joyously alone and ‘see’ beautiful colour and light and am gathering paints and boards and brushes together to express this outer connecting and inner journeying. I hope this, in some sense, expresses my gratitude for your deep understanding that the journey one needs to take towards healing is indeed, uniquely one’s own. I am currently working on a series of abstract paintings in which I am trying to express this concept and through which I am coming to understand things better. So - the colours I sought to ‘hear’ in the early weeks are now taking form and I’m beginning to ‘taste the notes’! Things are fusing somehow and I want to be able to paint senses, feelings, thoughts, ideas. I don’t want this to make sense as it’s very exploratory at the moment and I feel I’m on the edge of some new and important (for me) understanding of something …”

  • GV and physical problems

    "[GV] gives power and strength when physically I am ill and spent” Arlene “GV was a fantastic resource for me to use during labour” Val Many with physical health problems have claimed physical as well as psychological benefits (eg see Munyard et al 2002; Cloverleaf et al 2002; Rakusen 2000). Conditions where physical benefits have been claimed by participants include the following – Untreatable back pain M.E. Other severe pain or incapacity MS Blood Pressure “When I come to the GV group my back pain disappears. Nothing else cures it!” Dan Writing after a GV day, Dan continued, “I have been able to swim, pain free, three times this week. This is incredible, as I have been unable to swim for months because of my back pain. Thanks!” After another day, he wrote, “I felt I had been opened inside and given a generous oiling all over.” Dan had long-standing severe back pain for many years, and said he had ‘tried everything’ – allopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, etc etc. Despite being told that the pain relief was not being given to him, but that it was something he was doing, and that he could develop awareness of what it was, so that he could do it without the facilitation of the teacher (JR), he tended to laugh disbelievingly. He steadfastly resisted choosing to learn to do it for himself, knowing full well the absurdity of his apparent choice. M.E. Jill herself developed GV whilst living with Post-viral fatigue syndrome, a form of M.E. Her book offers insight into how she has used song – often in silence when lying in bed – whilst living with disability. One of the many people who has learnt to do this too is Becca – "Living with chronic illness is s***. Living with chronic illness with GV in my life is a lot less s***. At times it can even be fun and enjoyable. Long periods of being confined to bed can be difficult to endure, but lying in bed with a song in my heart can be a complete delight and I can’t wait to do it again. It can bring me deep peace and I can even feel grateful for the enforced rest. GV helps me manage the M.E., and gives me ways to deal with stress and overcome the worry and resentment arising from it, that in turn would make my condition worse. It helps me feel part of the human race and that I have something to give, even though I am so ill and disabled at times.” MS At the end of a GV event, Andi found it remarkable that her ability to walk and stand had improved. She believed that something about her engagement in the GV Process had helped her. Other severe pain or incapacity Barbara, who has severe, long-standing osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, reported an extraordinary development after exploring GV at home with one particular song – “The constant pain eased! This is the first time I’ve had [relief] like this. Gardening, I’ve been surprised how less bad my back’s been. And I’m standing taller because I’m less hunched up with pain, and it’s since my experience with this song! It means I keep hitting my head on the kitchen cupboards – the first time ever (I’ve had them 15 years!)” Arlene, whose pain and overall health challenges are constant and severely debilitating, wrote one day – “I sang, and meditated, my way out of a thicket of intense chronic pain for the past 2 months (sometimes I can hardly walk now – despite treatments and self-help). The experience of transcending, if for a while, all this excruciating and boring CRAP rekindles a flicker and also of hope. Without that there’s nothing much to work with. Big thank you … and deep peace. Two years later she wrote – "I was so close to despair (awful bus journey, so much pain, so much noise). I couldn’t bear it. Then ‘May the Doors of my House’ appeared [Song No. 16 in the book. Thank God for GV!” Meanwhile, after engaging with a GV recording during one of our remote learning events, Audrey remarked, ”When I started to sing, it made me cry. Tears of joy and recognition – as if I'd found a way. Joy at singing with someone else. Joy at singing wholeheartedly. It's resonating in my whole body – my feet are vibrating. It's a release of creativity – this is wonderful for me because I'm so limited by physical weakness in using my arms – I can’t do things like drawing, painting, or writing. I get really irritated. Today I feel I've really worked. I've really enjoyed it." Jeannie, who had an incurable, life-threatening auto-immune liver disease took powerful medicatio,n to keep her liver function under control. She lived on a constant tightrope between the dangers of the disease and the dangers of the drug. She also had a background of abuse, and recognised that she abused herself by “not giving myself time to do things I know will help me, and trying to do too much”. And while she recognised she had the power to affect how she felt – eg through meditation, dancing, singing – she wasn't doing any of this, and was feeling very low. She joined a short GV course, only managing two sessions in person because of her illness. However, she managed daily ‘homework’, sometimes involving GV recordings, and used the opportunities available for occasional facilitation from Jill . During the course she reported being "more energised, empowered and joyful – all unusual”. After the course she decided to continue with her daily GV practice at home, knowing that she could build on what she had gained. “I don’t intend to stop, because I enjoy the experience”, she said. Two months later, Jeannie reports – “A lot of negative feelings have been transformed ... My emotions are more stable, my self-respect has improved, I value myself more and I feel more confident in general ” “This course has helped me cope better with [my] illness ... If I feel depressed, I soon feel better [with GV].” Eight months later, Jeannie is still using GV, and is dancing and meditating again – "Now I’m stronger, happier, more peaceful, have more energy, and get more out of life. GV has certainly helped me a lot”. Jeannie’s story is described more fully in Jill's article in the journal Positive Health. Blood pressure Denise is convinced that being able to halve her blood pressure tablets is connected with using GV in her daily life – “There must be a connection with GV, since a lot of my b/p has been through stress, and I’ve been using GV to alleviate this.” All those quoted above, and many others, had learnt how to 'unlock the power of song' through a short course. Our book is designed to help others learn to do this too – providing step-by-step guidance, and much more besides. See also Handling disability at home and at work, Impact on daily life

  • Deirdre's story - after the death of a baby

    "My life has always involved loading myself with jobs when I’m feeling down. This, inevitably, leads to me feeling more overwhelmed with life and unable to get to the bottom of my problems. Problems had always been there to be covered up, and life had thrown up the huge problem of having a still-born baby. This enormous emotional upheaval required serious replacement and I was working part-time as a carer as well as having three children, and looking after a lady with learning difficulties. My husband had gone on a self destruct emotionally, and I felt it was my role to support him, as well as to try and hold the family together. With this plethora of emotional baggage, I met Jill – to apparently care for her. What actually happened was astonishing … New insights I started attending one of her regular Giving Voice groups. Initially I was terrified. I was also aware that this could be something that could change my life. Although I enjoyed the first evening, it took several sessions before I realised how vital this was to me. It led me to look at myself in a way that I never had before. I started to accept that I was using work as a shield to prevent me from feeling pain and hurt. But what I was actually doing was preventing myself from feeling any better. In accepting all of these things I had to make the decision to change. This was a much harder thing to accomplish. It meant I would have to change the person I had been for so long ... I was not sure how I would do this, or what the consequences would be, but I did know that I had to own myself and take responsibility for how my actions affected those around me. I had always thought that, by doing things for others I was helping them, but Giving Voice made me realise that I was actually disabling them. New developments I started to sing around the house - songs I'd learned through GV, old pop songs, church songs - singing either for the fun of it, or to really connect. I realised that I had no idea what my taste in music was any more. I had completely lost touch with what made me happy, and what made me me. Singing GV songs made me connect with a part of myself that I had forgotten existed. I allowed myself to grieve for our lost daughter, I allowed myself to grieve for what might have been, but also I was able to be joyful for the small impact she had made on me. My religious faith and beliefs were reinforced and I felt a sweet joy come back into my life. “It was tough, but enjoyable; heartrending at times, but always a very positive experience. I did it with support from Jill and others in GV, as well as from my family. Now I’ve learned how to use music (particularly singing) in a positive, uplifting way in my life. I am also much more confident outgoing and prepared to take responsibility for myself, including my actions as well as my emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. I even sang in a trio at church, which is something I’ve never done before."

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  • How We Work | National Foundation for Giving Voice

    WHAT WE DO Our primary focus is enabling people to discover how to unlock the power of song – regardless of musical experience/capacity or lack thereof – and how they can utilise this skill in their daily lives. This has been implicit in all our work, and has become explicit since the publication of our book, Unlocking the Power of Song A Companion for Challenging Times. ​ Between them, Jill , Rachel and Caroline have 40 years’ experience of doing this – in groups large or small, and/or 1-1. Since the pandemic began, they have offered more sessions at a distance (largely online). Such sessions/events may involve taster sessions as well as short courses, and/or purposeful participatory events. They have also written articles and created a number of educational and other resources – see bibliography There are more details about recordings, song cards, group and individual sessions and how to contact us below. ​ All their work is rooted in love, and in the awareness of human beings’ profound capacity to experience joy and growth, including through challenging times COURSES & EVENTS Contexts where Giving Voice has been introduced include educational or local authority settings, local and national mental health organisations, the NHS, cancer help centres, women’s centres, spiritual and alternative health settings; arts organisations, local, national and international conferences, community, voluntary and/or campaigning groups, and a range of festivals. ​ Current Events include ​ Giving Voice for Peace A monthly evening designed for anyone who has already has some experience of GV, however limited. This is largely offered remotely or via our Giving Voice for Peace Facebook Group . More Info. ​ Support using ’Unlocking the Power of Song : A Companion for Challenging Times' ​ Bespoke group events or courses organised on behalf of ‘partner’ groups and organisations, tailored to their particular needs and objectives. So for example: An individual or group can host an event or course with a mutually agreed focus (eg ‘Challenging Times: Fostering our Inner Resources through Song’). Such events may introduce people to GV as well as the book, and how individuals can start to use it in their lives (regardless or musical expertise or lack of it). The focus for these events may be on particular aspects of the book, depending on participants’ interests eg: dealing with particular issues (eg life-changing illness, isolation, domestic violence, bereavement) engaging with particular songs exploring the Four Key Elements, Silent Singing or Towards Giving Voice (Chapters 9, 11 and 12 in the book respectively) Such events can be held in-person, online, or a mixture of the two. Discounts on the book are available for group orders Individual sessions : A limited number of individual sessions for making the most of this book are also available either face-to-face/in-person, online and/or via telephone, tailored to each individual. Our Unlocking the Power of Song Facebook Group gives access to our self-directed learning guides, which are updated in response to demand. This group enables participants to be in touch with others engaging with the book, and with some facilitation if desired. ​​ Other events These may occur from time to time – eg with a focus on a particular issue. However, It is unclear how far we’ll be able to continue with the wide variety of events offered in the past, as we are now focussing mainly on enabling people to make the most of the above-mentioned book, which is a self-directed guide. Nevertheless, do contact us if you are planning a particular event and would value purposeful participation of those present (eg for celebrating and/or fundraising). Group events are held in-person, on-line, or a mixture of the two. RESOURCES ​ Our most important resource is our new book Unlocking the Power of Song A Companion for Challenging Times. RECORDINGS & SONGCARDS ​ Recordings • Songs of Universal Peace and Healing, originally made as a cassette tape (that’s how long GV has been going!), includes studio recordings by Jill of three songs in the book (No's 1, 3 and 9): Available on CD or as a download for £8.50 . • The ‘Peace Tape/CD’ was produced for people wanting to use song to promote peace in their lives, local communities, and the wider world. It contains two songs from the book: A Song about Finding Peace (No. 1) and The Time Has Come (No. 14); the latter is a participatory performance, recorded from ’scratch’, following 9/11 and street riots in the communities affecting the singers’ local areas. Available for a donation (suggested £5 minimum) , along with Song Cards of these two songs as well. • Bespoke recordings can be made on request, please contact the Foundation if you are interested. Song Cards These are truly multifunctional! – they’re things of beauty in their own right, they subtly offer an experience of the song, and they can be sent as a greetings card too. “I found the words on the peace card so helpful.” survivor of childhood torture Song cards are currently available for: A Song about Finding Peace (No. 1), I see Beauty (No. 3), Truth Song (No. 8), Tallis’s Canon (No. 13), A Song about Home (No. 28), and Every Little Step (No. 20).* Song Tree Responding to Covid-19 We've been hard at work revamping our online presence to make it helpful for you during the challenges we’re all facing. ​ We’ve launched a new Blog Unlocking the Power of Song which will explore how being isolated can, if anything, enable us to unlock the power of song even more productively than in a group and a couple of Facebook groups ​ Unlocking the Power of Song Facebook group coming soon from our Facebook page where we will be sharing some recordings of songs that we are finding particularly helpful during these challenging times. We will be releasing some material from our forthcoming book: Unlocking the Power of Song: a companion for challenging times here so you can make use of it now, and Giving Voice for Peace Facebook group, where those who are committed to promoting peace using Giving Voice can get share and get support Members and Membership FOUNDATION MEMBERSHIP You can be a member of the Foundation for £58 (£40 concessions) for 12 months. ​ Members are people who want to support the Foundation's aims and principles , and contribute to its development ​ Members get: Discounts at most Giving Voice events Support in your individual ongoing process, including a specially created unique phrase special mailings special emailings members-only Foundation days, 3 annually, free to members ​ ​ ​ ​

  • Giving Voice | National Foundation for Giving Voice

    Welcome Introducing our long-awaited book Now available to buy exclusively from us ​ We are a charity whose aims are to illuminate the relationship between music and health and wellbeing. We largely do this through Giving Voice (GV) *, an educational and self-directed tool developed by the NFGV' s co-founder Jill Rakusen . GV is a unique approach to song that was developed by Jill when challenged by long-term illness. Basically, she discovered how to ‘unlock the power of song’ despite often being unable to sing at all. And when she was able to sing, she found that her silent discoveries had a huge impact on her ability to truly ‘give voice’. Over the years she has shared her approach with many others, and has taught Rachel Healey and Caroline Thorpe to teach it. They, and countless others, in a wide range of situations, have found it beneficial. Two important aspects of GV are: how much we can draw on it in our daily lives, and once we’ve learnt the basics, we don't need anyone else – not even a recording – to enable this to happen. This is the case regardless of how 'musical' or 'unmusical' we believe we are. Our new book, Unlocking the Power of Song: A Companion for Challenging Times provides step-by-step guidance on the basics, as well as on more advanced aspects of the process; and occasional events and short courses are also run by our accredited GV teachers . Please see our Unlocking the Power of Song blog for examples or what people have discovered through this approach, particularly when drawing on it in their daily lives. For it’s when we do this that we can really begin to ‘unlock’ the power of a song. ​ Find out more on our News page See what we have been doing on Facebook Read our Blog Unlocking the Power of Song Join our Mailing list ​ *Our work is not to be confused with any of the following organisations: Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists' Giving Voice Campaign , or their branches which run a Giving Voice Choir and a Giving Voices Choir and have Facebook pages called Leeds/Sheffield Giving Voice.

  • SHOP | Giving Voice

    SHOP Book | Recordings | Song Cards ​ Unlocking the Power of Song A Companion for Challenging Times By Jill Rakusen ISBN13 : 9781919640501 Imprint : National Foundation for Giving Voice Date Published : 26 Mar 2022 Format :Paperback More info At present it's only available to purchase exclusively from us. Although we’re subsidising it hugely, we know the cost will still be out of reach for many. If you feel able to help others obtain a copy, please do add a donation using the button above. Other ways to pay ​ Send us a cheque, payable to NFGV, or Pay by Bank Transfer: National Foundation for Giving Voice 09-06-66 41174782 Reference your name and email us your name and address. Recordings We have CD and Cassette Versions of 2 Albums below and they will soon be available for digital download . ​ • Songs of Universal Peace and Healing , originally made as a cassette tape (that’s how long GV has been going!), includes studio recordings by Jill of three songs in the book (No's 1, 3 and 9): Available on CD or as a download for £8.50. ​ • The ‘Peace Tape/CD’ was produced for people wanting to use song to promote peace in their lives, local communities, and the wider world. It contains two songs from the book: A Song about Finding Peace (No. 1) and The Time Has Come (No. 14); the latter is a participatory performance, recorded from ’scratch’, following 9/11 and street riots in the communities affecting the singers’ local areas. Available for a donation (suggested £5 minimum), along with Song Cards of these two songs as well. Song Cards Song cards are currently available for: A Song about Finding Peace (No. 1), I see Beauty (No. 3), Truth Song (No. 8), Tallis’s Canon (No. 13), A Song about Home (No. 28), and Every Little Step (No. 20). Song Tree card Suggested Donation £1.50 each To pay for CDs and Song Cards ​ Send us a cheque, payable to NFGV, or Pay by Bank Transfer: National Foundation for Giving Voice 09-06-66 41174782 Reference your name and email us your name and address. Paypal https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/NFGV

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