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  • Writer's pictureMarcus Bonfanti

Dust My Broom

Musicians: Marcus Bonfanti (guitar & vocals) Ben Hazleton (double bass)

I now feel really confident at Bridgeside Lodge. I think this is because I’ve gotten to know many of the residents by now, where they live and who likes what types of music. I am fully aware that this can change very rapidly due to the fragility of everyone there. I think knowing the staff and them knowing us really helps too. The familiarity means we can help each other.

This new confidence means we can get round and see more people. I know my way around and I know how best to interact with certain residents. Previously, I'd feel bad for not playing that one extra song when they ask. Probably, more honestly, I was probably scared that residents might react badly to me leaving the room and I would be responsible for upsetting them. Now I’ve learn how to 'wind down' the sessions in the right way so when it’s time to go, we leave everyone feeling good.

First up we went to the ground floor dining room and saw JR. He was in a really good mood and had enjoyed the session the previous day when 30 children from the local primary school had visited Bridgeside Lodge. He constantly referred to it so we did a 'rehearsal' for next week’s session, running through Bill Withers’ Lovely Day and Ben E King’s Stand By Me - tow songs the kids knew and loved. We had a good time doing that.

We then visit Ms JC, who Ben Edwards and I had entertained the previous week. She told us that she was awaiting some visitors who were taking her out but she didn't feel like going. We played Elvis’ Love Me Tender (one of her favourites) and a couple more up-tempo jazz tunes. She told us we had put her in a good mood and she was now looking forward to being taken out for the afternoon.

On the first floor we visited Ms JB and her partner who was visiting. Spending times with them is always a beautiful experience, they are always both so grateful and JB always reacts to the music in such a lovely way. Her speech is improving and she softly joined in on some familiar choruses.

Mr GH is usually to be found guarding the lifts on the second floor. He was a forensic investigator throughout his career and has brought his observational skills to Bridgeside Lodge. On this occasion we found him in his room and gave him a private concert for a change which felt good - Lots of Beatles which he joined in singing with his powerful baritone.

It’s interesting that for most residents, their anxiety means they want to stay in their rooms and not venture out into the communal areas. For GH the opposite is true. His anxiety meant he wanted to know who was approaching, hence keeping an eye on the lift doors. As he has become more comfortable and felt more at home, he feels safe and relaxed in his own private space.

We had a full-on blues session with Mr JC on the third floor. I retuned his guitar to open D tuning so he could fully join in, strumming along and the three of us had a great blues jam together. It occurred to me that the traditional 12-bar-blues song format may be quite useful for enabling residents to participate, due to the repetition in the verses.

For example; we sang Elmore James’ Dust My Broom. I sang the first line "I'm gonna get up in the morning, I believe i'll dust my broom" and JC easily joined in with the second line, as it was the same as the first. Maybe there's something in that?

Either way, I'm convinced that music was a big part of JC's life. He finishes off certain lines with me, he knows where the lyrics are going and where the rhymes are leading. I'm going to think more on this because I feel there is something in it….

Ben and I went to see Ms JBL and her fiancé Matt towards the end of our session. She had just had her aromatherapy session so was asleep and looked so peaceful but Matt asked us to play anyway so we did a few tunes for her while she slept.

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