Graham Clayden

Graham Clayden

Retired consultant paediatrician, amateur: bassoonist, choral baritone, woodcut and engraving printer. I used to run a course on medicine and music

Location Greater London, UK


  • I added two of my favourite Roman fortifications; Porchester Castle that inspired me as a child and the impressive Richborough Castle in Sandwich Kent that was one of the first

  • I was previously ignorant of the climate change related to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the importance of animal pandemics in historical impact. I was aware of the various infectious diseases but not of the link between increasing TB and disappearing leprosy

  • I’m sure your gut doesn’t mind which way up its as long as all its muscles and peristalsis are working

  • Very convincing evidence about the natural variations in climate and its impact on society but even more worrying that we are now adding to the factors that cause the changes. One tiny hope is the chance that natural cooling events might balance human climate heating factors but just as likely to add to them if we try to ignore our role in our own potential...

  • Since I retired I have enjoyed a number of Futurelearn courses on a very wide range of topics. I felt very uneducated about the Middle Ages and so read about that period in English history so now keen to have a more European view.

  • We were playing in the background of a church fete when everything stopped for 1 minute silence for Armistice Day. At the end of the minute we played a wind ensemble version of Elgar Nimrod and we and I think those at the fete shared a deep emotion for all those lost in war.

  • This sounds challenging as therapy unless the presence of the therapist is an essential catalyst in the process of expressing deep feelings in a secure environment

  • I thin this means that through music you can experience something beyond words and understanding

  • The universal value of actively engaging with another person and attempting to augment their lives in some way. In music this can be by joining them on the same note or rhythm or by adding harmony

  • Shared music making being used in a safe and trusted environment to improve engagement and communication

  • It was great to see the development of the ensemble as the conducting student became more and more committed

  • I have to admit to getting annoyed at a dominant in a group and tend to compete usually using humour or in convincing myself or even members of the group that I endorse the dominant so that I appear as “kingmaker”. In teaching small groups I used to enrol the more confident students in helping or encouraging the others to contribute but always looking for...

  • After retirement my job was walking the grandchildren to school and to defuse anxiety or frustration at leaving a game or TV, I composed a short song “we must go to school right now……” This avoided nagging and succeeded in avoiding being late.

  • Singing along at a folk club in early days at university gave me a sense of belonging at that strange life transition point

  • As an amateur choral bass and a bassoonist, solo moments are rare unless by mistake! - but exhilarating once confident enough with a particular piece of music

  • Definitely using music as a 2 way conversation

  • He initially seemed to use a marching tune as Karin approached the drum and probably to be welcoming easy beat for her to pick up. As she appears to be having fun, he merges into a playful theme and modifies this when she slows the tempo and descrescendos to p/pp (not easy for a child on a drum)

  • Graham Clayden made a comment

    Karin engaged from the moment her name was called. She controlled the slowing of the tempo and also the dynamic quietening and the later acceleration. A smile of triumph showed how much she enjoyed that interaction.

  • I have noticed that I accelerate when driving and listening to some stirring music which I now conscious counter by noting my speed especially on motorways. I always avoid listening to music and driving if feeling tired!

  • The main difference for me is playing in a group listening to each other seems to amplify the expression and therefore the emotional impact of the music via dynamics and subtle tempo changes.

  • I was most impressed by the enthusiasm that embraced the full value of the children especially at a time in history where they humanity was often neglected

  • This stresses the importance of accurate listening to the response of the child and the careful modification of the tempo to keep the communication going. I have found that keeping to a strict tempo generated by computer playback of music scores in the Zoom sessions I have been playing in during COVID 19 lockdowns so dead compared to the flexibility and...

  • I am not sure about the title Music Child as it seems to suggest that this disappears beyond puberty which is clearly wrong. Two way communication through musical improvisation is hardly a snappy title or maybe changing our species name to Homo Musicus would be unfair on the Neanderthals who had flutes or bird species that seem to improvise.

  • The method focuses on the child’s repertoire of skills and acknowledges their importance by adding them to the music the child hears thus reducing their social isolation and broadening the canvas on which they can create as we saw with Anna varying her top note and being amused by its effect on the therapist

  • My comment on no.3 is that this illustrates that this is not teacher directed grammar teaching but child paced creative therapy which does fit into what we have heard so far of this method

  • Graham Clayden made a comment

    It was great to hear Anna chuckle when she pitched the second note of her “I school’” song beyond the adult male range. Clearly she seems to relish the power that must be unusual in her restricted experience

  • These anecdotes are convincing but in this evidence based obsessed world of therapy, does any beneficial effect last or is it just beneficial but short term entertainment? Sorry to sound sceptical but that is about what health service management need to be convinced.

  • I noticed a mutual listening and responding to the music but I wonder what the first session with the children looked like

  • I noticed the way Nordoff followed the child’s sweeping tempo and then gradually used tempo to modify the sweeping pattern. The song involved everyone and the movements brought the group together with plenty of cooperation with the more able helping the others to join. The response to Nordoff as they left is evidence of how they valued the session.

  • This seems such a natural approach. I guess most parents have played actively with even small infants using song and movement whilst watching the impact on the child and encouraging even the youngest baby to dictate the length of repetition of the game.

  • I worked with child psychiatrist Dr Eva Frommer and saw firsthand the impact on children with multiple special needs the value of Steiner methods combined with ordinary medical help. Our greatest problem was convincing those controlling the NHS finances that this was both important and effective.

  • Both therapists appear to have a real relationship with their musical partners- it’s clearly much more than a job to them

  • Both are able to modify the world around them however briefly which must be rare beyond the therapy session unless success in the session encourages them to try expressing themselves in other situations although Kath may not recall

  • Mary is conducting the music and so empowered to express herself through changes of rhythm and apparently urging Antonia to play more melodic episodes at times. I guess this was not their first session as Mary seems confident that Antonia knows what she wants

  • Mary appears to be controlling the music by anticipation the 2 handed discord’s and deciding when to move from this to visually encouraging Antonia to change tempo and pitch. This must be one of the few occasions in her life where she can influence the world around her and thanks to the skilful and clearly empathic therapist

  • I expect to see the therapist providing individually tailored access to help their patient/client to express themselves in an environment that the therapist makes safe according to their needs and vulnerabilities

  • I found Elgar Dream of Gerontius very helpful during times of mourning

  • I think I have background music going on in my head most of the time but switching BBC radio 3 on at breakfast is much more bearable than hearing radio 4 and evasive interviewees

  • I think film directors use the impact of music to prepare audience for emotional change. You know something nasty is going to happen if violins play repeated notes and if the double basses join in watch out for sharks

  • Following sad events working in a childrens hospital, I listened to moving music in my car on the way home which greatly helped in helping me express my emotions in a socially safe place.

  • Listening to short extracts is always a bit uncomfortable for me but I also fidget with long pieces. I prefer making music to listening to music depending on the context. Music as an addition to another activity can be very moving even if very basic (eg the last post on the bugle) but can also be very annoying (eg obscuring dialogue in films or canned music in...

  • My earliest memory of making music is singing the high note of "Morning is Broken" in infant school. Then enjoying communal singing after rugby matches then as a teenage folksinger sliding into choral singing as a student (lured by Mozart Requiem). As a form of midlife crisis I took up the bassoon (same clef as my singing) and enjoyed doing both musically and...

  • I think Pinker missed the point that the universal presence of music in very diverse human sapiens (and Neanderthal) cultures must have had biological survival value. Perhaps the parent who could quieten an infant with a calming lullaby may have prevented a predator eating their offspring. Even more likely is success in finding a mate if you made musical noises.

  • I’m a retired paediatrician enjoying making music (bassoon and choral baritone) with memories of working with music therapist in the past. I was impressed that one child with very complex neurological problems responded by singing back a short tune whenever she saw the therapist. No previous human engagement seemed possible. With the extreme financial and man...

  • This course filled a void in my understanding of that period in history and very nicely illustrated. I’m already planning to visit that area of museums. Thank you

  • Unbearable infant and child mortality with death in childbirth common also

  • Fungus as tinder

  • Finding a stone with a hole in it is thought to bring luck according to folklore. Perhaps this relates to these artefacts in some way

  • It could represent feathers and have magical properties to attract birds (therefore food) that might be come to the lake

  • They may have been talismen as I guess our sense of luck and misreading of statistical chance is an ancient limitation but probably had survival value

  • Chipping a flint rock also gives of sparks and so fire which must have improved both quality and safety of food and murky water

  • I’m retired and use Futurelearn courses to fill the many gaps in my very specialised medical science education. Prehistory has always been a fascination so I am excited by this course

  • I may be cynical but could it have been that foreigners arriving with a number of enslaved men may have suggested a threat to the security of the English landowners. What better way to reduce this than offering freedom.

  • I was surprised and inspired by the wealth of content in the National Archive that can be mined for this depth of evidence

  • Music was one of Henry VIII’s interests and even if we can’t prove that he composed Greensleaves there are examples of ones he did, so petition from a loyal musician was likely to succeed

  • My imagination, influenced by Hilary Mantell, makes me suspect that Catalina’s surprising but very convenient repatriation and marriage was masterminded by Henry VIII’s court fixers (?Cromwell)

  • I am also interested in evidence of the very early migrations of peoples into Britain and whether they merged with or murdered those from earlier migrations. I think there is linguistic and genetic evidence that integrating was common.

  • I agree with the school boy who said he must have been strong. The long bugle and the hanging flag would have been heavy and would have caught the wind. How he and his brother trumpeters manage that, their horses and the variable pressure of the trumpet on the lips to make a right royal fanfare is amazing. Has anyone on this fascinating course tried it?

  • Although anxious that I may fail to avoid all the linguistic pitfalls in my ageing ignorance of what might offend, I hope that accidental failures will not be likened to the disgusting racist comments following the recent football final

  • I run an amateur woodwind group where we have been exploring compositions often ignored unless by white males and have found Ignatius Sancho fun to play and wondered whether he would have been aware of tudor predecessors

  • Graham Clayden made a comment

    This video has increased my interest in the missing roots of English history so neglected in teaching in schools and in Tudor themed literature where it seems only royalty and aristocrats moulded our development as a nation

  • We are by nature a self orientated species so the strongest argument to alert public opinion is not the extinction of “nature” or the planet but of human life on earth and that includes our great grandchildren (with hopefully many more great greats)