One of the most rewarding parts of my life in music and as a human being these past two years in London has been working as part of the Music, Memory and Me team with people with dementia and the elder care wards. Every Wednesday, we would spend an hour at UCLH, take the tube up north to Royal Free Hospital and spend another hour there, connecting with people at their bedside from room to room.
This project connects with people through the medium of music and our presence in the hospital setting. We come in with a list of tunes, from “You Are My Sunshine” (a classic hit!), to more jazzy tunes like “Fly Me To The Moon”, to Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender”, to folk Scottish tunes like “The Skye Boat Song”, and so on. Often we get people who know most of the tunes, and love to sing along with us.
We walk into a room, sense the energy, there might be people sleeping…some awake…some happy to see us, some curious, and every so often there’s someone who really doesn’t want us there…it happens sometimes. These people are in a bed in a hospital, in an environment that can often get lonely and heavy at times. I can only empathize with what this must feel like, and can only imagine that it must be exhausting and confusing to share a room with four people and having doctors and nurses running around you 24/7. There’s something about music, that has the potential to connect and reach the human part of us. We can feel a gentle buzz around the hospital after we’ve spent an hour there. Uplifting the day of not only the patients but the hospital staff who are also spending their days in this setting. From the young, to the elderly, from nurse to patient, to the family member supporting from the bedside…from all walks of life… It is such a gift to be able to share music with other people and meet each other through our voices.