Douglas Drive Community Centre, Stevenage
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.