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  • Writer's pictureKate Millett

Music really changes the mood...

Musician: Kate Millett (Ukulele and voice)

Our visit to Bridgeside Lodge today was a mixture of music and research. We have been visiting and doing 1:1 sessions at least twice a week since the Autumn, and while the immediate benefits the music brings are obvious, we want to ensure there is a lasting impact. Our weekly evaluations show that each visit and music session provides emotional support, respite from isolation, and social stimulation; now, we want to find out directly from residents what they would like to get out of our visits. We chatted to several residents, asking questions and talked about what music means to them.

E.J said she loves our sessions. She always joins in, and remembers songs from previous visits.Today, she mentioned that she likes sad music so Kate sang her ‘The Dimming of the Day.’ It was a song we used to play frequently for E.J’s neighbour who recently passed away. E.J remembered the song and even remembered the Tribute session we did for her neighbour. Her musical memory shows the positive impression music makes on her.

“Music is important. It’s important to feel things and music helps with that. You don’t realise how important it is until you can’t listen to it whenever you want.”

- E.J, BSL resident

Many of the residents had insightful responses to our questions. Several described music as being an outlet, something to relax to, and a “trip down memory lane.”

“Sometimes music really makes you think. The words make me think of freedom.”

- Resident S, BSL

In the dining room we played for I. He is non-verbal, but can move freely. We named a few musicians and songs to see if we could work out what his musical tastes were. He began nodding when the Beatles were mentioned so that was clearly his preference. While Kate sang to him his whole face relaxed and his breathing slowed. Body language is often all we have to go by, but we have found this actually makes for a purer human connection with our audiences.

One of our 2020 funders, Arsenal FC, have asked to do a profile on our work with residents. An interview with a BSL resident will be featured in the Arsenal magazine (amazing publicity for our work!) We thought O would be the perfect interviewee as her husband was an ardent Arsenal, so we popped in to visit her on Thursday. We wanted to find out a little bit more about O, her interests and story, to give the Arsenal journalist as an introduction. She agreed to the interview, chatted away about the Big Band music scene, family and travel.

Upstairs we played some Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra for S and N.J. S got Ainhoa, the 1st floor nurse, to ask N.J if he would dance with her. He was thrilled and the two gently waltzed holding hands. G.H and M were bickering (“why don’t you shut up!”) but both welcomed some music. It seemed to ease the mood as they were both soon completely distracted.

“Music really changes the mood. And look at J, this is the happiest I’ve seen him in a while.”

- Novelle, BSL carer

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