Kirsty is a pianist and music teacher, who's been working with mentor Grace to build up her confidence following a serious brain injury. Our Digital Assistant, Nina, sat down with her to find out how she's been getting on.

Firstly, I think it would be great to know a bit about yourself. Could you tell me how you like to spend your time?

K: Yeah, I like to go to rugby – I’m a season ticket holder. I love going to see live music - I was at tidelines, that was amazing. I’m going to see tidelines again, and Elton John. I like the smaller venues because I think they’re more intimate – there’s something special about them.

Whilst you’re here you’re playing a lot of music. How did you first get involved with music?

I’m going to tell you the long story. I was a primary teacher, then I had a bleed in the brain and was in hospital for 4 months. Two and a half years into my recovery, my mum contacted her art teacher who knew Ninian and Charlotte. We had a meeting with Ninian, Charlotte and Ross. I went to a Beat it session and I never looked back. I loved it - It’s life changing, like my bleed was - but for the better. I volunteered for 3 years through Horizons. I had a chat with Charlotte who said there’s a Horizons project where some people get mentored – I wanted to build my skill level up with Grace. She has taught me there’s so much more to music than scales and grades, I just love it.

Do you have any moments that stand out to you from working with Paragon?

I think it was when Ninian started the session and it was unlike anything I’d seen before In a classroom setting. With paragon you’re facilitating their creativity. It’s so inspiring and… I can’t think of the word. It’s so forward-thinking. All the moments that I’ve spent with the participants have been special in their own way because they’re all so different. I’ve learnt so much from Charlotte, Ninian and Andrew. If someone’s non-verbal, they go straight to the service user and not their parent or carer. I don’t want to say family, but it does have that friendly atmosphere. One of the participants was quiet, but I was quiet when I first started, and I think if you’re open and welcoming it makes them feel safe. I’m trying not to say I love it again!

How do find it, working with lots of people who are different ages and abilities? Do you all gel?

We don’t gel together in the conventional sense - you have to run with the idea, if it’s loud or quiet, but it just… flows. Ninian’s really good at getting ideas out of people, and that’s something I hope I can do too.

Do you notice a difference in yourself from before you started with Paragon to now?

Ohh yes. I was going through a really low period. I saw all my other friends were getting on with their lives and I didn’t have the confidence to get out a lot. This has given me a new lease of life. It’s given me a new way of thinking – I used to play piano with two hands, now Grace has taught me to amalgamate two hands into one. I’ve completely done a 180˚, or 360˚? I now feel so much more at ease with everybody, and I feel better in myself. I’ve learnt so much, in the training and day-to-day.

What do you think the future holds for you?

I want to get involved with more paragon sessions, but maybe a masters in Music and Communication. The ability for music to change people’s lives is incredible and I think it should be used more in people’s lives. I’d like to do more research into music and the brain. I play the piano at home and I’m leaning to play the ukulele. I’m going to persevere with it. It’s just for myself at the moment.

You’ve got a concert soon, what’s it going to be like?

Me and Grace are doing a piano duet, she’s going to play one hand and I’m going to play one hand. This is going to be my first concert since my bleed. It’s going to be hard hiding behind my keyboard not to show any mistakes!

Watch this specially commissioned new film documenting Kirsty's journey with us: