Music practitioners

Sara Barfoot – Singer/musician

Sara Piercey

Sara's music career started at school, performing in school choirs and taking lead roles in productions. Over the years she has sung in bands, duos, and as a solo artist.

Sara has worked in the care industry and has a good understanding of dementia and working with the elderly.

Sara offers an hour of music with songs to sing along to and show songs combined. The songs range from 1940s, '50s  and '60s through to the present day.

Throughout the songs set Sara engages with the audience to discuss memories and will often include a quiz to get participants thinking about the music and engaging with each other.


Verity Bird – Singer and Musician

Verity BirdVerity is an architect and was a university lecturer before leaving full time employment and becoming self-employed. She founded the Wight Ukers ukulele group on the Island in 2013 and started leading singing sessions, mainly in care homes, for Independent Arts in 2017. Music, and especially singing, have always been a favourite leisure occupation, from singing in school choirs from about the age of 8, through performing with Batley Gilbert and Sullivan Society between 1985 and 2002, when she moved, with her family, to the Isle of Wight.

Verity's repertoire ranges from Victorian music hall right through to the present day, though for care home sessions music mostly starts with 'hits from the blitz' running through to the 1960s and sometimes, '70s. She aims to choose music to suit the session and the ages and preferences of participants. Good, singalong numbers prove particularly popular.

Verity's mother suffered with dementia, and she has a particular interest in how music can make connections, even when cognitive ability seems to be severely impaired.


Steve French – Musician and Singer

Steve FrenchSteve is a former mathematics teacher but has always had a passion for music and putting on concerts. For many years he performed with his band Easy Street as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist covering a range of material from Jazz to Rock’n’Roll. A keen songwriter, Steve has also written and recorded two albums.

Steve joined our practitioner roster in June 2015 and performs songs from early 1920s favourites to the swinging 60s and engages his audience by encouraging singalongs and percussive participation.


Philip Fryer – Musician and Operatic Vocalist

Philip FryerPhilip's sessions comprise upbeat and catchy songs of various styles and from different eras to suit client choice. Simple percussion instruments can be used if clients have shown an inclination to clap or beat the rhythm.

Sessions are always enjoyable and designed to be socially inclusive, with the emphasis on participation.



Zarah Groves – SoundMoves

Zarah GrovesMusic and movement from a musician and qualified dance and movement practitioner.

Zarah's background was in classical dance and she ran a ballet school on the island before moving to Scotland where she taught the piano to private students and ran keep fit classes to all age groups. Zarah has an Honours Degree in Music and the Arts and is now back on the island teaching the piano.
Zarah believes that the love of music and movement can benefit everyone. In her music workshops she can bring her keyboard to play familiar songs, light jazz and classical music for residents to join in with or to just listen to and relax.
Her movement workshops involve gentle and expressive chair-based movement that will exercise and stretch every part of the body whilst listening to great music from the musicals and the jazz era. Always winding down, at the end, with breathing exercises to relaxing music.
Zarah can combine a session to have both movement and music included.

Zarah also leads DanceMakers in Ryde for Independent Arts.

David Healy – Musician and Singer

David HealyDavid was a journalist before becoming a civilian press officer for the Armed Forces. His interest in music started as a choirboy at Exeter Cathedral; he got his first guitar at the age of 15 and over the years has collected a variety of other stringed musical instruments. Now retired from full-time work, he plays the guitar, banjo and sometimes the mandolin. His style is varied and includes music  hall, rock and roll, folk and the occasional humorous ditty.


J.C and Kathy

J.C and KathyJ.C and Kathy have worked in music all of their adult lives. Kathy’s focus has been in music teaching and education. She also performs in several bands playing alongside J.C in “The Dance Makers” and playing for barn dances in “The Caulkheads Ceilidh Band.” J.C’s focus has been a performance and song-writing. He is a well-known Island performer but regularly tours both nationally and internationally. Over the years J.C’s music has taken him to over twenty countries including Russia, Japan, and America, playing jazz, pop, folk, and blues at festivals worldwide. J.C has also always loved being involved in the Isle of Wight music scene, and alongside performances he has enjoyed teaching and running workshops in ukulele, song writing, and guitar, in local schools, at the Quay Arts Centre, and at Platform One.

J.C’s and Kathy perform a variety of musical styles and genres on a variety of instruments, focusing on J.C’s guitars and Kathy’s violin. Folk, old time, sing-a-longs, and fun tunes and songs, with audience participation to distant shores. Their music is a journey around the world through rhythm and song, and a journey through life sparking memories or conjuring up images of days gone by. But the overall message is of joy and fun. Music as a shared experience to join with and enjoy.


Merlynna Johnson – Harpist and Singer

Merlynna JohnsonMerlynna returned to Independent Arts after several years on the mainland. She plays the harp and sings, choosing the repertoire to suit the group. Harp music helps to reduce anxiety levels, reduce pain and create easier breathing for most people. Merlynna can perform for groups, or interact with the group using a small lap harp that clients can play so they experience for themselves the wonderful sounds the harp can make.


Glenn Koppany – Musician

Glenn KoppanyGlenn is a self-taught musician, playing guitar and singing for 40 years. As part of the duo, Coppersmith, he performs regularly at festivals and folk cubs playing his own songs. He studied at Portsmouth University and Chichester University where he gained a degree in Community Arts. Although he has worked in many areas of the Arts he has developed a particular interest in therapeutic arts and has taken several courses in counselling to move his practice forward.

Glenn believes that "When we have difficulty communicating, music and art can help connect us to our memories and feelings, and to those around us", so Glenn tailors his work to the individual, or to the group, to maximise engagement, trying out new songs and activities and involving support staff where possible.


Tony Nicol – Singer and Guitarist

Tony Nikol

Tony has travelled the world as a professional singer/guitarist. He has worked as a solo performer and as part of duos, trios and bands. 

Now retired to the Isle of Wight, after 30 years living in Norway, he performs at a number of venues on the island and does some volunteer work for the British Heart Foundation and the Quay Arts centre in Newport. His music varies, from folk and country, to blues, ballads and popular songs of the '50s and '60s. He also works, as a duo, with his partner, Anita. 

Tony is great believer in using music as a therapy: "Nothing triggers memories, as much as a song."

He has performed around the world and shared a stage with stars including, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Mike Harding, Suzi Quatro, Jasper Carrot and Fred Wedlock.


Annie O Bree – Singer

Annette O BreeAnnette has been singing professionally since age fifteen, working with big bands, on cruise ships and with Thompson holidays, as well as appearing alongside entertainers such as Tommy Cooper, The Three Degrees and other big name acts. Her passion is to bring people together to enjoy music, and make singing fun, and she brings her vast experience and enjoyment of music to her sessions for Independent Arts.

Jessica Ong – Singer and Musician

Jessica OngJessica’s music tastes are as varied as her interests: from folk and country to Motown and soul, rock'n'roll to music hall, swing, musical film and theatre… and everything in between! She believes strongly that music has the ability to create connections, spark memories and warm the heart like nothing else in the world.

Jessica is a lifelong singer and musician, from school days playing the alto saxophone in amateur orchestras, swing bands and performing to audiences in Europe, to summers busking on the streets of the Isle of Wight and performing in punk bands in pubs. Jessica provides music sessions using the acoustic guitar, ukulele, a wide vocal range, and a great sense of humour. She takes great pride in tailoring music sessions to the needs and tastes of the group, and encourages participation by way of singalongs, percussion, reminiscence and quizzes.

Jessica has many years’ experience owning and running her own businesses, including a vintage and collectable toy shop. She has also used her musical and creative skills working with the elderly as an activities coordinator in an Island care home.

Jessica can also provide a programme of gentle armchair exercises and movement to music suited to your residents' needs and abilities.


Steve Parker – Soundbeam

Soundbeam session with Steve ParkerSteve is an experienced musician who delivers our Soundbeam sessions, which enable clients with profound physical or learning disabilities to become expressive and communicative using music and sound.

Find out more about Soundbeam here.




John Shirley – Musician and Storyteller

John ShirleyJohn taught on the Isle of Wight for 33 years and is keen to pass on the skills he acquired during this time. He enjoys poetry, joke-telling, singing and playing guitar in equal measures. He enjoys the company of the elderly and creates an enjoyable and reciprocal ambience during sessions. 

John's sessions offer a variety of songs ranging from folk/pop to old time music hall. Singing sessions are accompanied on the guitar. Participation is offered through percussion instruments and specialist rhythm work is available, from handclapping to ethnic drumming. Sessions can be varied to suit client tastes and ages. Poetry readings are also available; these can be humorous or more reflective verse.


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