Something to Sing, Dance or Shout About

  • Posted on: 2 February 2021
  • By: huw

Something to sing, dance and even shout about for people with dementia and their companions.

Jenny Leitch

It looks as though our lives will be restricted by Covid for months to come and Royston Choral Society members, supporters, and families might like to know what’s available to help stimulate people with dementia. Until Covid struck, our corner of East Anglia offered several sociable and interesting activities. Royston Rotary offered a monthly coffee morning as did Melbourn Hub. Saffron Walden Round Table held an open house in the day centre in Jubilee Gardens, Saffron Screen offered monthly film shows, and the National Trust’s Wimpole Farm offered a Farming Memories Group.

But all that remains, to my knowledge, are activities that can continue online through tools such as Zoom. Sawston Singing to Remember usually meets in the Catholic Church Hall. With welcoming volunteers providing coffee and chat, and a lively leader, we sang our way through a variety of styles – music hall, pop, folk and songs from musicals, silly songs, lots of rounds and part songs, and some action songs. Sessions continue, every Monday on Zoom but, sadly, many participants with dementia do not readily cope with this medium. Ten months on, there are only two or three engaging with it, but the whole exercise is still of value to family carers, former carers and the volunteers, as it keeps everyone in touch safely. One of the volunteers moved to Scotland but can still join in. New members are welcome and there’s nothing to pay while it is virtual, and it’s fun.

‘Together in Sound’, sponsored by Saffron Hall, is a free music therapy group in Saffron Walden for those living with dementia and their companions, currently on Zoom as well. Like the Sawston group, volunteers welcome participants with refreshments and friendly conversation, the same songs are used to open and close each session and there are vocal and physical warm-ups. Much is made of improvisation often using a range of percussion instruments from around the world. This group is led by an Anglia Ruskin University lecturer in music therapy assisted by one of her students. Meeting on Fridays means they can sometimes benefit from a performance by one the Hall’s visiting musicians. Just in case you’re imagining an awful cacophony, both groups do most of their singing muted!

‘Come Together’ is a new community arts project, also sponsored by Saffron Hall which is just getting under way, building on a similar initiative in 2019. A new creative community is developing from people of all ages interested in working together using music, words, movement and theatre to make cross-generational connections. The facilitators are conducting the group on Zoom initially, and welcome new participants.

Both Saffron Hall initiatives are fully inclusive.

More information is on the Saffron Hall website at:
https://saffronhall.com/participate/togetherinsound/
and
https://saffronhall.com/participate/come-together/

Contact Jenny Leitch (details on our Who's Who page) if you would like more information.