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James Dickinson - Head of Hertfordshire Music Service

Music for a Generation

A partnership between Hertfordshire Music Service, The HCC Wellbeing team, How to Thrive and the Hertfordshire Adult Family Learning Service is currently running an intergenerational music project to support awareness of well being for young and elderly.

The sessions are running at 4 day centres around the county, Douglas Drive Community Centre, Stevenage, Parsonage Lane Community Centre, Bishops Stortford, The Daylight Club, Harpenden and Borehamwood Seniors Day Centre.

The workshop leaders, Penni Walker, Sharon Eckman and Camille Maalaway are leading singing sessions, with material chosen by the elderly people and staff from each centres.  Participants find the songs are an interesting way to reflect on where they were and they what they were doing when they first heard them, and the music making is raising spirits and helping conversation flow.

In the second stage of the project young people from the local community and joining the sessions to support the music making and to listen to the elderly people’s reminiscences about their favourite songs and  about coming to and growing up in Hertfordshire. They will be helping to interview and to record their reminiscences which will form the basis of songs written by the young people with the workshop leaders.

One group of young people, the Care Cadets, will also be making a film about the project, which is running until July 2013.

To hear the reminiscences from each centre and the songs as they are written, please click on the links below:-

Douglas Drive Community Centre, Stevenage

Learners reminiscing and talking about their favourite songs:

Penni Walker has been working with a group of adults attending the Douglas Drive Community Centre, varying in ages between 40 and 70, some of whom have impaired speech for a variety of reasons.

Penny had been using music to support social engagement and leading reminiscence conversations that come out of and lead into the songs.

She has found that the music both helps the participants remember issues from their past, and also forget, so that they can live more thoroughly in the present.

In some instances, participants with reduced ability to speak have been animated by the music, and found their understanding and speech enhanced the rhythm of the words in the songs.

The songs helped the participants reveal some personal and social histories, including some previously unrealised rock and roll pasts (!), and inspired workshop leader Penni to write a song based on some of the stories.

In the second stage of the project young people from Barclay School Stevenage have joined the session, performing their own songs and accompanying Penni and the participants performances of classic songs including ‘Those were the days’.

The participants are looking forward to hearing the young people performing their songs based on the elders’ reminiscences.

Learners performing their favourite songs and original songs written based on their memories:

Daylight Club, Harpenden

Camille Maalawy and Phil Spinelli have been working with participants of a wide age range with a range of abilities, and using percussion and dance to develop performances of classic songs suggested by the group.

They have had support from 15 Care Cadets currently being developed by the Herts Care Provider Association, who are gaining a valuable insight into how music can support social inclusion of vulnerable groups, how it can help social interaction flow for all, and how it can offer opportunities for careers and career developments.

The sessions have also used Music Technology to accompany some Urban Music performances, and the Care Cadets will be learning about how to teach use of Music Technology to participants with learning disabilities.

The sessions are building a great team spirit among the Daylight Club, the Care Cadets and the project team, and we were delighted that they were invited to perform some of their progress to date at the Most Fair in Hatfield on Wednesday 15th May. See the video of their performance below.

Borehamwood Seniors, Fountain Court, Borehamwood

Learners reminiscing and talking about their favourite songs:

Workshop Leader Sharon Eckman has been working with a group of elderly people attending the Borehamwood Seniors session at Fountain Court.

The elderly people have been sharing some interesting memories, many of which date from their experiences during World War 2. They have suggested and enjoyed singing songs from a similar period.

In addition to the singing and reminiscences, Sharon has found time to work in the occasional impromptu dance, and we hope to include more of this in later stages of the project. (Watch this space!)

In June, 3 talented song-writers from nearby Hertswood Academy will be joining the sessions to perform their own material and exchange stories with the elders about what its is like to be growing up in 2013, compared with 1943.

They will then be writing their own songs based on the elders’ stories, and performing them to the group.

Learners performing their favourite songs and original songs written based on their memories:

Parsonage Lane Community Centre, Bishops Stortford

Penni Walker is working with a group with Learning Disabilities, many of whom have displayed considerable knowledge of and interest in music, and have discovered some remarkable performance skills.

For more information on the project please contact michael.davidson@hertfordshire.gov.uk