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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

A faint whisper

Musicians: Nat Keen (guitar) Pete Lee (keys)

On Mondays after our weekly PCR tests, the Spitz team get together and discuss all things relating to our work at Bridgeside lodge. It's a great opportunity to share recent developments with each other and to look at ways we can improve our musical offerings to the residents.

On this particular Monday as we sat there supping on our various caffeinated drinks we chatted about some new residents that had recently moved into Bridgeside Lodge and compiled our thoughts on their musical tastes and general preferences. Pete Lee and I made notes and agreed that we'd go and introduce ourselves and our music on the Wednesday coming.

Our first visit was to resident RK who was very happy to meet us but with a warm smile informed us that she didn't like music. Respecting her conviction, we backed out of the room and wondered whether her inclination might eventually be swayed. We continued, scanning the corridors for familiar and unfamiliar faces when we were met by ML who seemed to be worked up about something. This anxiety was quickly dissipated as we played one of her favourite Elvis songs and we gradually noticed the tension in her shoulders disappear and her facial expression soften. ML really appreciates personal attention, a chat, an interaction or a song and Pete and I made sure she felt special for those 10 minutes or so. We talked with her about music, how some people can't live without it, others don't enjoy it at all. She said:

'I can't believe that! I absolutely LOVE music.

If you're ever dropping in this way, please

come and see me because I love you'

Next, we visited WL who neither Pete or I had played for in the past. She wasn't able to communicate fully, although she was clearly aware of our presence and the music that we played. Her mood seemed very melancholic if not sad. Without the option of verbal communication, we use our intuition regarding which type of music to play in these situations and it seemed appropriate to play something calming and gentle for her. We played one of our favourite melodies 'The Mountain' and after several bars of music we noticed her eyes welling up. After more pieces we again gently tried to engage WL in conversation and asked her whether she would like us to come again, with a faint whisper we heard her say 'yes'.

Later that day we went to visit DG. He was one of the new residents mentioned in our Monday meeting. We'd been informed that he loved music but had been suffering a rapid decline with dementia and wasn't always able to (verbally) express himself. We played lots of rhythmic funk and Soul for him and he seemed to respond very well, especially when he was handed a maraca! He joined in with us and enjoyed playfully joking with the carer who was present in the room. In these moments we really saw his warm character shining through.

As we left and continued on our rounds, we heard a carer call out to us 'it's your mate JC's birthday today!' . With this fresh info we made a beeline for his room and prepared our vocal cords for a rendition of happy birthday. We entered the room to see JC dressed smartly with a fresh shave and a beautiful birthday card sitting in front of him. He seemed a little shocked/taken aback by our birthday singing surprise but we soon veered back into more familiar territory and spent a lovely time jamming with him and playing him Muddy Waters songs.

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