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James Dickinson - Head of Hertfordshire Music Service

Musical Memory Box: East Herts Music and Reminiscence Project

Hertfordshire Music Service worked with East Herts District Council and Riversmead Housing Association (part of Network Housing Group) to develop a music and reminiscence project with a group of older people living in two residencies in Hertford.

The project built on previous work developed by Hertfordshire Music Service and the Herts Partnership NHS Foundation Trust where community music-making offered young people the opportunity to benefit from the rich life experience of elders, by writing songs about their reminiscences.

Below, you can watch the final project film, which shows an overview of what happened throughout the project.

East Herts Council commissioned Musical Memory Box as the first cultural project for older residents to complement the programme of physical activity opportunities it offers to older people. The council, who works with its partners through the East Herts Ageing Well group plans, in the longer term, to make the district ‘dementia friendly’. Musical Memory Box, although aimed at a self-selecting group of older people, will support that ambition. www.eastherts.gov.uk/ageingwell

Following an initial consultation session, residents from Riversmead’s Calton and Bircherley Courts took part in a series of music and reminiscence sessions from late February until the end of March. The project culminated in a sharing event for family, friends and staff at Hertford Theatre on Monday 30th March.

Community Musicians Penni Walker and Ben Smith led the project workshops which explored people’s lives and memories through songs and film. In turn, this provided the basis for new songs created with the participants.

The delivery of the project was also supported by a talented group of five young musicians who studied HND Musical Production at Hertford Regional College. The young people learnt about career opportunities available in Music Workshop leadership, as well as how to write songs based on local issues.

Hertfordshire Libraries supported the project through the involvement of staff that work with the Reminiscence Collection, which can help families, carers or staff in residential homes to share and stimulate memories’. www.hertsdirect.org/services/libraries/books/specialcollections/rem

Musical Memory Box followed Hertfordshire Music Service’s previous intergenerational projects including Music for a Generation, a music and reminiscence project, which ran across the county in 2013. More information, images and film can be found at www.hertsmusicservice.org.uk/mus4gen