Just spent a lovely couple of days singing songs and making music with people with dementia in Devon :) Thanks Live Music Now!
Often people initially seem quite unresponsive and reserved when I arrive, but by the end of these sessions they are singing, dancing, swaying, smiling, playing instruments, improvising, conducting, tapping, clapping, laughing, making eye contact and communicating more. One man was present with his Dad, and said he became enlivened after the session and was communicating more than he had for months. One lady was quite unresponsive until I handed out the percussion - she then became quite lively and was playing the rhythms of each melody - this was an amazing way for her to communicate. Sometimes people in care homes can't communicate verbally any more so it's lovely to have the opportunity to communicate musically. One lady was crying through a few songs because she was 'so happy', and became very chatty towards the end, as the music had sparked so many memories. A few people got up and started dancing, and really enjoyed being conducted by the music (getting faster and faster...!) at one home. Watching older people singing 'I can't help falling in love with you' to each other breaks my heart every time, but is often a very special moment. One of the homes had children in from the local nursery when I arrived, so I sat down and sang songs with them - the residents loved having the kids there, and it was lovely to see the immediate impact this had on the wellbeing of the residents. Music is so important in care homes, and it is so vital to have fun along the way too! I always try and make sure everyone has a part to play, particularly when we are improvising - and it's amazing how engagement and enjoyment rocket when people are just given the opportunity to take part in something together. Lovely lovely couple of days!