about

Music has been a driving force in my life from a very young age; I think I've always been captivated by framed, organised sound. After demonstrating an ear for music, I began studying piano classically at the age of six.

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received an electric guitar for my eleventh birthday and began teaching myself how to play, followed by the bass guitar and drums a few years later. I enjoyed this process very much, developing my own idiosyncratic styles of playing. 

Pleased with the progress I had made as my own teacher, and wanting to connect with my family's Irish roots, I bought a mandolin in Cavan, Ireland, during the Fleadh Cheoil 2012 (the world's biggest traditional Irish music festival), started learning traditional Irish folk music, and got involved in local sessions. 

More recently, I have begun to take up the five-string banjo and Celtic harp. 

I studied music at GCSE and A Level at Exmouth Community College, during which I formed a folk-rock / indie band, Weekend Rescue, with friends from the college. 

We wrote and recorded music, gigged at various local festivals, events and radio stations and supported chart-toppers Toploader.

In 2013 we entered a national music competition Music For Youth. We proceeded to win both the regional heat in Devon and national heat in Birmingham and were awarded with the opportunity to perform at a full-to-capacity audience at the Royal Albert Hall on the 11th November, 2013. 

I studied BA Music at Plymouth University, and graduated with First Class Honours in 2016, with an additional award for Outstanding Contribution in Music. I also won the 2015 Dean's Award for Music, and was given an unforgettable trip to Prague with my fellow winners in their respective subjects within the faculty of Arts and Humanities.

During my time at Plymouth, I developed an interest in ethnomusicology, and in particular Indian Classical music. Captivated by the unique timbre of the sitar, I began having lessons with an associate lecturer, and progressed quickly enough that I gave my final two performances of my undergraduate degree on the sitar. 

At university I also began writing music for a variety of ensembles. I take inspiration from the Romantic, and in particular, Impressionist movement; I love how something as seemingly abstract as music can be used to convey something, a mood, a picture, an emotion, that it almost becomes tangible. I try to achieve this in my own work, often depicting scenes inspired by the nature of my home county of Devon. 

Please click here for more information about my pieces. 

It was during my undergraduate degree that I became interested in music therapy. I had done work previously with adults with learning disabilities, but it was a more personal experience which confirmed my aspiration to train as a music therapist:

 

My great-grandmother, who was once very musical, was diagnosed with dementia. As her dementia progressed and her language and cognitive skills declined, it became increasingly harder to connect with her. After reading about the affects of music on dementia, I started using music as a way of facilitating connection. Through music, we were once again able to communicate and have meaningful interactions. I knew then that I wanted to do this for a living. 

To get some more experience behind me, I started volunteering for local charities which provide arts for adults with learning disabilities. I am still currently employed by these charities. 

I am now studying MA Music Therapy at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, training under Leslie Bunt.

I am also currently setting up music workshops for teenagers on the autism spectrum and adults with mild to severe learning disabilities. 

© 2017 Jess Clarke

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