BEATBOXING, Japanese drumming, Indonesian gamelan – inspired by the experiences of friends and family, musician Madaleine Pritchard is using music to help children affected by a loved one’s cancer.

Pritchard, a professional musician who has worked with Tom Jones, Deacon Blue and Alesha Dixon, launched Connecting Sound in April.

With the help of project co-ordinator Alan Bryden, she and her team have since been helping youngsters overcome the stress and worry associated with having a parent, carer or sibling affected by cancer.

The Glasgow-based group uses lessons in DJ skills, Indian tabla, harmonium and song-writing to help young learners make sense of their emotions and release stress.

Now gearing up for their October workshop programme, Pritchard hopes to one day expand across other areas. She told The National: “It gives a release, escapism and a chance to resocialise with other children who understand where they are coming from.

“We know that this can work. The responses we have had from parents are so positive, they tell us there isn’t anything else like this. The song-writing helps them open up and describe things they can’t really make sense of.”

Between 220,000 and 260,000 people in Scotland are living with cancer, according to estimates from specialist charity Macmillan. As of 2016, more than 2600 new cases were diagnosed across the country every month.

Pritchard said “any child” can take part in Connecting Sound, including those with learning delay or autism, but the concept is geared towards those marginalised by cancer.

On how the disease has touched her life, Pritchard explained: “Cancer has affected my entire family quite profoundly, I have lost a lot of close members. It almost eradicated my mother’s side.

“I have a friend who has been living with cancer for close to 15 years, and who has been affected by different forms of cancer. She was first diagnosed around pregnancy and has two children who have grown up with their mother experiencing and fighting cancer.

She added: “I wanted to help children who are watching their parent or carer, or brother or sister cope with the disease.

“There is an awful lot of brilliant support for people going through cancer, but there’s very little for these children.

“I wanted to create something that would be totally different from anything they would do in school, from anything they had done before, and give them the opportunity to experience something they might not otherwise be able to do.

“We help children overcome fear, develop resilience and self-esteem.”

October classes will take part in Maryhill Community Central Hall, Glasgow. Free sessions are available for children from families struggling with the financial cost of cancer.

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