As full of spirit as the month of May (Part 2)
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Musicians: Kat Eaton (vocals) Pete Lee (piano)
Out in the garden at Bridgeside Lodge the smell of the first BBQ of the season consumed our senses. As the nurses carefully curated their auditorium in the dappled sunlit garden as the residents came to take their seats for this afternoon’s performance.
Pete and I set up by the doorway; a prime position for welcoming the residents whilst keeping a keen eye on the BBQ! This is the first time that Pete and I have played to the residents at Bridgeside as a group and I have to admit I was a little nervous. Although I’m used to performing to large audiences, there’s something much more powerful at work when live music is provided as therapy instead of solely entertainment and as a facilitator I sometimes feel the weight of that responsibility. But the show must go on and indeed it did as we took inspiration from the early summer sun and launched into Sunny by Bobby Hebb and then Etta James’ At Last.
Being outside we weren’t as encumbered by as many COVID restrictions, which meant that there could be more than one visitor per resident. It was incredibly moving to see so many family members interacting with the residents, including children and babies. Afterwards Pete and I reflected on the positive affect that children can have on the older residents at Bridgeside and it was a truly joyful experience to witness this at first hand when we saw resident JG animatedly smiling and cooing at a baby.
William Shakespeare went down a storm in this environment with not only the residents but also with the family members, carers and nurses. Pete and Spitz director Jane told me that deputy manager Audrei was often too busy to be able to watch the therapy that Spitz provide so it was a welcome surprise for them to see her in the garden relaxing and enjoying the live music for the first time.
Just like last week, JG joined me in reciting Sonnet 18 but this time with gusto, confidently projecting her voice to the group. Ms GH, who was accompanied by her son, was ecstatic every time we announced we were going to recite more Shakespeare and each time I started reciting a new passage and she’d exclaim “Oh my God!” in recognition and enthusiastically gestured with her arms in time with the metre of each piece. When we did our final Shakespeare piece (GH’s favourite; the Romeo & Juliet balcony scene) she was unusually silent. When I looked over to her towards the end of the piece I could see she was squeezing her son’s hand and crying. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses at that moment I can tell you! Afterwards she generously thanked us multiple times.
Other highlights included JC playing his guitar with us for the entire first set; giving JBL and JR the spotlight by dedicating songs to them over the mic (JR even took the lead vocal of a Bob Marley song while Pete accompanied him – we must give him his own mic next time!) and everyone coming together to sing Happy Birthday to nurse Lisa who turned 50 today accompanied by balloons, cake and plenty of happy tears. A perfect end to an early Summer al fresco event and naturally, ‘as full as spirit as the month of May”.