"Music is a necessity, it's keeping us alive"
Updated: Jan 11
“When you get to my age you only think about the necessities. I eat to stay alive. Music is another necessity. Man has been making music for thousands of years. It’s keeping us alive.” Resident G at Bridgeside Lodge.
Making music seemed to be exactly what the staff and residents at BSL needed on Friday. A distraction from the gloomy weather and even gloomier current affairs! G was on lovely form; more lucid and much more engaged than he has been over the past couple of weeks. I sang to him and spoke to him in French (his second language) which led to a wonderful chat about France, French culture and holidays. G is a deep thinker, but has deteriorated recently. Hearing him talk like that was a reassuring reminder that he’s still here.
I.J had been crying in the dining room when I joined her for a chat. We played a couple of Irish folk songs and she joined in with the singing and laughed: “I wish I could get up and do a stepdance but I’ve two left feet!” R was also thrilled to have a visitor: “What a lovely coincidence, I was just on the phone to my daughter and wondering when we’d get some music.” She stayed focused and engaged throughout each song which is encouraging as she has been easily distracted in the past: “I could listen to you singing all day!” S, L, and a Scottish lady soon joined us for a couple of Christmas songs. S is moving into her new accommodation soon. She told me she was most looking forward to some independence and spending time with her daughter, but also made a point of saying: “You Spitz lot won't be able to keep me away though…I need you lot, I’ll be over to visit you as often as I’m allowed!”
A.K put in a song request the week before (The Dimming of the Day by Richard Thompson), which he listened to with deep concentration and closed eyes. We chatted between songs and he said: “I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you guys take the time to visit us. I’ve had a horrible couple of weeks and felt grotty today, but your singing has completely turned my day around. It’s really magical.”
Before I left, Leyla, E.J’s carer was keen to show me the piano practice she’d been doing since her lesson with Spitz Coordinator Thom. She’s been learning Danny Boy, E.J’s favourite song, and I joined her with the Ukulele chords while E.J sang. Sitting there in E.J’s room, making music, seemed to solidify a link between us at the Spitz and the BSL staff: a bridge between carer, visiting musician and resident. The three of us even joked about how fun it would be to start a band!