About Headway East London
Headway East London is a charity organization based in Hackney, London, and is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Their mission is: To empower our community of brain injury survivors and their families to imagine new possibilities – ones filled with creativity, embracing diversity, and backed by specialist support.
One of the key ways that Headway East London achieves its mission is through its day center, which offers food, art, music, and writing projects for its members. It is a beautiful program supported by volunteers and reliant on its supporters' generosity, dedication, and imagination.
At the day center, they have about 200 people a week attending. Additionally, they have a huge list of brain injury survivors waiting to come to the day center. In all, they support over 700 people living with brain injury each year.
About James Compton
James has lived his life in music. He joined his first professional band in 1980, Darts. During his career, James produced 6 albums and co-produced ten singles. In 1990 James became a musical supervisor of 16 musicals, many of which had successful West End runs. Additionally, James worked as a composer on six motion pictures, numerous television productions, and various electronic media. James has spent the last 6 years working at Headway East London, where he shares his incredible musical talents with those suffering from brain injury.
I don’t always get the opportunity to chat with our users, but when I learned that James Compton uses Moises as part of their music program at Headway East London, I had to speak with him and learn more. He was kind enough to share his experience with me.
The following has been edited for length and clarity.
How Headway East London uses Creativity in their program
I really enjoyed learning about how Headway East London uses creativity as a core part of their program through music, cooking, art, and writing.
James Compton: It's definitely my personal theory that when someone has a brain injury, they experience this period of mourning about the person they used to be, the skills they used to have that they no longer can have and I think we can help people overcome that through creativity.
Interestingly, because they're not worried about deadlines, work jobs or this or that, they've got time to let their minds expand in a very healthy kind of way. So creativity is the backbone of what we do here.
One concept that James shared with me that I love is the idea that art is accessible to all of us. We sometimes withdraw from it because we measure our own ability against seasoned professionals or don’t make the time to engage with it. This is a mistake because it limits our ability to enjoy the experience of artistic creation.
How James learned about Moises
With over 28 million users, there are a lot of great stories about users finding Moises. We frequently speak with professional artists who have spent their entire careers trying to hack one-off solutions to the functionality that Moises provides so readily. It is always fun to learn how our musicians first learned about Moises. James had a great story:
James Compton: When a musician friend of mine introduced me to Moises there was a moment when my jaw hit the floor and then my next thought was this is phenomenal as a musician. My immediate thought after that was, this would be a fantastic tool for music appreciation.
James quickly began using Moises in the day center in East London to help members understand how music is created.
James Compton: When describing Moises, I say: I can put a cake in front of you, and then with this app, I can take it apart, and I can leave you with a pile of sugar, three eggs, some butter. So, you can't do that in the real world, and you can't do that with music… except with Moises, you can!
This is an important concept for music appreciation because, to the untrained ear (like mine), it can be difficult to understand how a complex piece of music comes together. I recently had the opportunity to watch as a music producer crafted music in his digital audio workstation (DAW). I was stunned at the complexity and the number of elements that worked together to create music I had always taken for granted. Moises has a mission to empower the creative potential of our users. Frequently this means democratizing complex audio tools and making them accessible to everyone. James continued:
James Compton: So it's bringing pleasure and intrigue to a lot of our members, and it gives me another tool for being able to engage people that don't know a lot about music. Most musicians can hear what the drummer's doing roughly; that's a skill you develop over years of playing in bands. For people who don't play an instrument, it's a unique thing to be able to fast-track that process. And I think it's a huge joy.
I have experienced this joy myself as I have used Moises to understand some of my favorite musicians in a way that was inaccessible to me before. As an amateur musician, it has been invaluable to me to take a piece of music that I love, isolate the guitar part and study it in clear detail.
Moises at Headway East London
James uses Moises in the day center in East London to teach members about musical elements. Additionally, it provides him with a set of tools that empower the creative potential of his groups.
James Compton: After nearly 40 years of being a musician, when I started work at Headway East London, I had to make a major adjustment to the fact that the music we make here doesn’t have to be perfect. As a professional musician, you're seeking excellence in yourself and the people you play with, just trying to make everything perfect. Although perfect isn't quite the right word because sometimes you want it to be a bit rattling and cranky.
And it took me a while to be able to realize that idea that what we make in the music room at Headway East London is very rarely something for an audience and may not even sound very good to an outside ear.
But what it does do is it makes people smile, it makes people happy.
It makes people feel a part of a group. I stress to our members that the piece of music we are creating has never existed before, you are now composers and we've improvised something that is a totally new experience.
The thing that I think I value the most about Moises, is that people end up talking about music and smiling when they're leaving the room and going, I don't know, I don't know how they did that. But yeah, yeah, that was great.
It's a really unique way that I've found of engaging people with the pleasure of music, and that's what my whole role is here, to try and bring something enjoyable into people's lives.
I think I can speak for everyone at Moises when I say how proud we are to be a small part of that experience that James and others create every day at Headway East London. It is a marvelous program!
How you can support Headway East London
There are many ways you can support this amazing program. You can donate old instruments or maybe even your talents to come in and make music with their members. If you are interested in supporting their music program, you can get in touch with James Compton on [email protected]
There are lots of other ways to get involved and support their work:
- Donations are vital to the work at Headway East London and make a huge difference to the people and families we support. You can donate via our website here: headwayeastlondon.org/get-involved/donate
- Purchase artwork and merchandise by artists with brain injuries from their shop: www.submittolovestudios.org
- Volunteer your time: headwayeastlondon.org/get-involved/volunteering
You can also visit their website to find out more about ways to get involved: headwayeastlondon.org