Music is Medicine scheme launched in Dundee helps provide support to those in need

Soothing guitar music oozes through the compact community room in Whitfield as players practise.

And it’s easy to see why the new Music is Medicine (MiM) scheme is a roaring success.

The idea was borne out of Peter Smith’s desire to help people suffering from a range of problems including anxiety, mental health issues and people in drink and drug recovery.

© DC Thomson

Holly Matthew.

Now his programme has become such a smash hit there are plans in the pipeline for three new venues across the city.

Peter and partner Holly-Jane Matthew have been helping a wide range of music lovers pick up a guitar since February with the popular come and strum sessions.

© DC Thomson

Dave Millar, community development officer.

He said: “We have actually helped people who wouldn’t leave their house and it is great to see the results of this.

“I was the same in the past and could hardly look people in the eye but now I am a confident guy and it’s all through music, hence the title Music is Medicine.

“I have a band now called Pete Smith and the Troublemakers and we have cut our first single.”

But Pete, 33, said the real success is seeing people bounce back through jamming sessions over coffee and chats.

The Tele dropped in on one session at Link Up Whitfield.

It was laid back and relaxed but with every player a picture of concentration.

Kirsty Fraser, 34, from Lochee, is one of the biggest successes.

Having at one time struggled to leave her home, she recently played a gig in front of more than 100 people.

She said: “I went along when the group first started – I didn’t know Peter before.

“I had anxiety and mental health problems but just through hearing about this place I have picked up and the group session has been great.

“Everyone helps each other. Before that I didn’t have a lot of friends in Dundee – now I have friends for life.

“Before going to the group I would not even come out of my house. Now I come here and later practise for so many hours at home that I realise I should have had my tea.

“I didn’t have much money but I went out to a charity shop to get a guitar and I’m glad I did.”

Former professional footballer Alex Rice, 65, decided to pick up a guitar after retiring from Dundee City Council’s cleansing department.

© DC Thomson

Alex Rice.

He said: “I got my guitar in a charity shop for just £3. I thought that even if I didn’t improve, at that price I couldn’t go wrong.” Alex, of Fintry, added: “I started out at Dundee United then moved to Raith Rovers where I was a midfielder and was lucky enough to play alongside Joe Baker.

“I learned from him and now I am learning from Peter.”

Student Heather Brownlee, 26, from Whitfield, said: “I have only been here for two weeks and really enjoy it. I had issues before coming here and now I practise a lot at home – it’s brilliant.”

Community development worker Dave Millar, 34, found the room for Peter to use and promptly signed up himself.

He said: “Peter has got the drive and has done all the hard work. I just gave him a room and some support.”

Music Is Medicine guitar group – runs this afternoon 12.30-2.30pm! 🎸

Posted by Link Up Whitfield on Thursday, 29 August 2019

Visitors to MiM are also directed to where they can receive help for a range of issues.

Meanwhile, as for my session, the look from Peter suggested I should stick to the day job.

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