• Thom Rowlands

Fantastic, amazing, lovely, special, extraordinary

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Musicians: Ben Hazleton (double bass) and Alice Zawadzki (voice and violin)

Ben and Alice have been part of the Spitz team for several years but only played music together for the first time a week ago. It seems that we’re facilitating an amazing new musical collaboration…

They both have a very open, human approach to sharing their music and are keen to seek out and visit residents who we maybe haven’t met yet, as well as strengthening relationships with those who we spend time with regularly.

Ben and Alice met resident J for the first time during this visit. J is unable to speak and has very limited movement, so it was important to exercise tact and awareness as she would have been unable to refuse a visit either verbally or with gestures and expression. They played on the threshold of her room on the ground floor, rather than entering. She was rocking gently and clearly loved music. As they were leaving, J’s movement therapist, Richard, came down the corridor and asked them to come back so that he could monitor the effect on her. They played a tranquil song and she opened and closed her eyes, relaxing into it. Richard is trying to work out what moves her, in the hope of giving her more agency in her life. Alice took Richard’s number so that we can aim to work more closely together. We’re always interested to hear the opinions of medical, clinical and psychological experts of the impact of the music we provide. Alice told us that she found working with J to be a very special experience.

Alice and Ben visited EJ, for whom they played Vivaldi sonatas, with Alice on violin and Ben played the cello parts on his double bass. This had a profound impact and EJ even wept during their performance. They then played some Elizabethan songs and some jazz, including Cole Porter's “Every time we say goodbye”.

We discovered that Alice has been learning double bass, having been given one by her friend, jazz bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado. She kept that very quiet but now the secret’s out! Ben suggested they do a session with two double basses, and even offered to bring two with him in the car so Alice can still come on the tube - no excuses! We’re very excited about this!

Alice and Ben met a new carer, Jose. he was very interested in what they were doing. He asked if they could play some Paganini and was totally astonished when they did.

“It was a bit of a crazy Paganini jam!”

- Alice, musician

This visit feels like a new departure for The Spitz. Usually a member of the Spitz core team accompanies musicians around BSL, suggesting who we visit and where we go. It’s great to know that our musicians can guide themselves around the home, getting to know people and bringing much-needed live music, regardless of the availability of members of the core team. It’s a testament to the trust put in us by BSL staff, based on the relationship we’ve built over our time working together. Long may it continue.

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