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Two session Friday

Updated: Mar 5, 2021


Morning - Thom Rowlands (guitar and voice)

Afternoon - Alice Zawadzki (voice and violin) and Nathaniel Keen (guitar)

It was a double session Friday, with Thom Rowlands visiting Bridgeside Lodge in the morning and Alice Zawadzki and Nathaniel Keen continuing the music in the afternoon.

The music began in the communal dining room on the 3rd floor. JC is usually to be found watching TV in his room, so Thom was very happy to see him up and having a cup of tea in the dining room. JC is always up for a good sing-a-long and carer Sally went to JC’s room for his guitar so he could join in. We played jazz standards from Duke Ellington (Don't Get Around Much Anymore), Fats Waller (Ain't Misbehavin') and George Gershwin (Summertime). Residents D and R were there too and were visibly enjoying the music, just a little less vocally than JC.

Thom was experimenting with playing solo guitar over backing tracks using the iRealPro iPad app. The addition of a drummer (albeit a virtual one!) gave the music more energy and soon enough residents and carers were singing and dancing.

In the afternoon, vocalist Alice and guitarist Nathaniel Keen visited. Alice sang Leaving Limerick for resident IJ. Both women were close to tears, it was a very special and intense moment.

On the ground floor, resident I, who is unable to speak, was really getting into the music, smiling and swaying along in his wheelchair. Who says you need to stand up to dance!? We’re always fascinated by the impact of our work on resident K. K is deaf and yet undeniably gets a huge amount from Spitz visits, tapping and moving in time with the music, feeling the vibrations, rather than experiencing the music sonically.

Resident G.H used to work as a barrister, a fact she often tells new visitors. Today she told Nathaniel, who immediately made up a song about how he wished he could have been a barrister. G.H loved it.

JC requested Ain’t Misbehavin’. This felt very significant, as he had played it that morning with Thom. Not bad for someone with vascular dementia!

Resident NJ was quite distressed when the musicians first arrived, asking confused questions, Nathaniel told him someone would help him.

“Maybe we can take your mind off it”.

- Nathaniel Keen, musician

Music as therapy, as an escape from physical and emotional pain. NJ continues to drum along whenever we visit. He has an amazing sense of rhythm, very deliberately altering the beat and requiring Spitz musicians to keep up with him. It’s a great challenge and another example of our work as collaboration. It’s not a one-way thing.

Alice sang 'Los Bilbilicos' - a Sephardic folk song, for J. We learnt that she was a costume designer and had worked on the movie Troy and the Harry Potter films. We heard about the time she had to fly out to the movie set to take a pair of shoes to Brad Pitt! Of course we’re not jealous!

Resident G spotted a rainbow out of the window and had the musicians stop playing so they could look at it. We so appreciate these small acts of kindness and generosity from residents and staff.

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