Me and Julia Turner recently finished a 7 week music residency at 2 care homes in Gloucester, and it has been the most amazing experience... So many happy memories, I'm gutted that we probably won't see the residents again.
Too many stories to list, of people who have advanced dementia but can remember every single word of a song from their youth, to those who simply light up from somewhere dark with the sound of a few notes.
One of the residents hadn't played the piano in years, but by week 4 was accompanying us on an ipad, and in the final weeks was happily jamming along to our songs on my keyboard. It was amazing to see the residents' confidence and creativity flourish. One lady gave us a hug every time we arrived. We played to a lady who was dying. We won around a retired choir leader. We sang with people who have been on this planet for over a century. John was my favourite. He was a cheeky chap with 'John' tattooed on his knuckles. He never wanted a cup of tea, just CIDER. And we had a good few fights with the hand chimes. He took a while to be present, but his face lit up every time we arrived. We developed some amazing soundscapes with the residents, sang Que Sera about a hundred times, and made so many beautiful connections.
Music can make such a difference to people in care. At the very least, it's a break from the daily routine. At the most, it's breakthroughs with people who haven't communicated for weeks. Or it's smiling, dancing and singing. Or someone simply tapping along, when they usually don't respond to anything. It sparks something in people. Somewhere in the subconscious, there's this whole world they used to know. Not necessarily their reality any more, but it's there and during the music and after the music it comes back. And they talk. And they smile. And they are happy. And that makes us happy. What a job.
For more information, head to the Live Music Now website: