Eversleigh, update, Bromley 2017

Residents at Eversleigh have continued to enjoy the music sessions led by
Sarah Fisher over recent weeks and have grown in confidence.

John, a 96 year old resident relives his experiences as a performer by singing My Way by Frank Sinatra to the other residents!




Eversleigh – Update from project leader

“I’ve played at Eversleigh three times now and the residents are getting to know me.  They are so enthusiastic as far as a sing song is concerned . There are about 15 people in all and the average age is 90 !!! So songs and musicals that were written round the 30s/40s go down a treat .

We have a couple of real characters – John who lights up when he sings thinking he’s back in the clubs , and a lady who loves a moan but then gets into the swing of it all. They have many stories to tell and over the next few weeks we may get a few good ones . Anyhow I feel they love the hour I spend with them playing the piano and singing . It’s such a boost to their memory . It’s really a jolly fun afternoon . I love going there it gives me a boost also!

Sarah Fisher, Project Leader

Eversleigh project, Bromley, 2017

On 4 April 2017, the first Community Music In Action project for 2017 commenced when musician Sarah Fisher led the first of ten singalong music sessions at Eversleigh Residential Care Home.  Residents, their visitors and staff joined in a variety of old time songs bringing back memories of past experiences.  Tambourines and maracas accompanied some of the songs, until the maracas were taken away by two very enthusiastic visiting children!  One resident, who had performed in a musical duo when he was younger proved an enthusiastic soloist once his hearing aid received new batteries and another resident who had been grumpy all day, joined in the singing and became chatty, recounting how she had attended music college when she was young.

In addition to those who attended in week one, there were some new faces for the second session, which included some of the familiar songs from last week and introduced some new ones, including Tom Jones and Elvis Presley numbers.  Again our enthusiastic soloist enjoyed taking the limelight with What a Wonderful World.  It was really good to be able to bring a smile to the faces of the residents and see them sharing the experience of making music together.

Carers Bromley (Young Carers), Bromley, 2016

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Early in August, Community Music In Action invited two artists, Sarah Weiler, a ukulele singer/songwriter and Rob Grundel, a multi instrumental musician who plays in a Hip hop band called Unexpected Guests, to meet some young carers from Carers Bromley for two days of music making.

On Thursday 4 August, seventeen young people aged 8–10 years attended the first ‘Song in a Day’ workshop. The following day comprised of twelve of the older age group (12 -18 years).

Using a mixture of ukuleles, piano, a digital beat maker and singing, Sarah, Rob and the young people spent the mornings playing games, learning the ukulele and getting to know each other by playing a few songs together.

“It was great to watch two groups of children,  most who had never met before,
have an opportunity to work together, encourage and learn from each other and produce a small piece of art that was authentic and true to them.”

Rob Grundel, Workshop Leader

By the afternoon the young carers were all in full creative mode writing lyrics and putting them to music.
It was great to see how quickly everyone picked up the chords and
strumming together, although there were some sore fingers by the end of the day! The musicality achieved in such a short time was fantastic.

At lunchtime, new friendships were forming as the young people sat in the sunshine and got to know each other and by the end of both days they were able to deliver whole songs performed with pride.

“At the end of each session we had participants share one thing
they liked that someone else did. It gave a huge amount of confidence to
those participants who had not been sure about their own
contribution to have it validated by their peers”

Rob Grundel, Workshop leader

As the youngsters left at the end of the day they were talking happily to their families about what they had been doing. It was great to see young people with very responsible roles at home enjoying themselves and having some well earned ‘me time’.

Q&A with Sarah Weiler

How do you think the beneficiaries for the project responded to the activities? Can you share any moments that stand out for you?

Really positive on both days. On the first day everyone participated the whole time and the staff were commenting how well the children were all getting on. They were volunteering to do solos and write raps and we could see them grow in confidence over the day. We ran a gratitude circle at the end and pupils had to say something they liked about another group member – this was a real confidence boost for them eg. One girl said: “I had no idea people liked my playing that much.”

On the second day the young people responded really well to writing their own song and they were buzzing with ideas. Three girls in particular stood out because they led the whole rehearsal: delegating parts to different performers and suggesting ways everyone could be involved.
One of the main outcomes is that everyone got to shine doing something they loved, whether that was singing, song-writing, leading or rapping. We created a safe atmosphere for everyone to take part.

Has this project had an impact on your own personal or professional ways of working?

It was great to have a whole day to run the workshop and see what could evolve. Most workshops I’ve run recently have been for half a day or over a series of weeks. It’s amazing what can be achieved if you have them for a whole day. I will definitely get more groups to write their own songs (rather than re-write lyrics) as I have seen that it’s definitely possible!

Project Aims

  • to provide musical activities for Young Carers at Carers Bromley during the summer holidays that young people are enthusiastic about and enjoy being a part of
  • to provide a time of respite for the Young Carers and allow them to socialise with other young carers, and build friendships through learning a skill and making music together
  • to inspire young people and enable them to express themselves
  • to encourage the enjoyment of making music as a group, and have fun
  • to learn a new skill and improve rhythm techniques, learning from a professional
  • to include everyone and make activities inclusive to all participants
  • to document the project through film / photos
  • to encourage collaboration, community spirit and a sense of achievement

“A moment of the project that stood out for me was watching the 8-12 year olds as they were learning Titanium by Sia on the ukulele,  singing along without any
self-consciousness and creating a beautiful sound’

Rob Grundel, Workshop Leader

Project Leaders

Sarah Weiler has an eclectic set of skills which include teacher, coach, workshop facilitator, trainer, stand-up comedian, songwriter, musician and events organiser. She is passionate about helping people reconnect with their inner child and enjoy life a little more!

Rob Grundel is a software designer, musician, writer and improviser and the founder of Somekind, a London-based story consultancy. He has over 10 years’ experience in the computing industry and more than 20 in music and writing. He performs regularly with Unexpected Guests and Abandoman.

FUNdamentally GOSPEL summer sizzler raises £660 for CMIA

Following the blistering success of their debut concert at Holy Trinity, Beckenham last summer, FUNdamentally GOSPEL returned to the stunning church for this year’s sizzler of a show in aid of Community Music In Action on Saturday 2nd July.  It marked the choir’s last concert under the leadership of Fiona Bolton and the venue was packed to the rafters in honour of the poignant performance.

Enjoying a comfortably cooler climate, the show opened with the lively gospel number How I Got Over featuring Juliette Hall, a relative newcomer to the choir and one of several singers set to perform their first solo with the choir.  The enthusiastic audience were then invited to participate in a call-and-response number, No One Else by Smokie Norful, before being treated to a suite of a cappella songs from Africa displaying the ensemble’s luscious harmonies.  The choir’s funky backing band of Ed Gray (keys), Sunil Chandy (bass) and Rod Rands-Webb (drums) then took to the fore in a rousing performance of He Lives In You from The Lion King, the only song to feature in both the choir’s first ever performance back in March 2010 and tonight’s concert.  The beautiful ballad, Worth by Anthony Brown featuring FUNdamentally GOSPEL founding member Sarah Archard, and the Take That classic Never Forget brought the first half to a close.

The audience bolstered the funds raised for CMIA by feasting on drinks and cakes during the interval but it was clear their appetite had really been whetted for some more great music and the choir continued to entertain with their trademark uplifting mix of pop, soul, gospel and world music.  Helen Lolljee, Becca Ford and Polly Powell delighted with a close harmony trio feature in the gospel swing number Operator by The Manhattan Transfer and Sarah Bolter, another founding member of the choir, brought a tear to the eye with her beautiful solo in Martha Munizzi’s ballad I Will Always, a long-standing favourite of the choir.

Roof-raising Joyful Joyful, You Can’t Stop The Beat and I Wanna Dance With Somebody brought the audience to their feet as the choir reached their climatic finale.  An emotional tribute to Musical Director Fiona was made and an encore demanded before the audience, toes still tapping, made their way home, thoroughly entertained.  A truly vibrant evening of music making had been enjoyed by all.

A total of £660 was raised for CMIA, sealing the success of the night.  The money will be used to run music projects for disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the London Borough of Bromley.


CASPA project, Bromley, May 2016

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On 15 May Community Music In Action started a 12 week music project with the charity CASPA, who provide inspirational activities and opportunities for children and young people with high functioning autism.

The wonderful musician and session leader Ned Smith started work with the CASPA interns, a group of 9-13 year olds. The project was joined in week four by singer songwriter, Priscilla Andersohn, who continued with Ned in the next phase of the project.

“These kids need encouraging to think outside the box musically
and to step away from playing the same tunes that they have
heard before. With time and encouragement I’m hoping
they will break away from the safety of well known tunes and do
something different, without feeling like it has to be
played exactly like this or like that, It is a freeing and
great process to be a part of”

Ned Smith, Musician / Creative Lead,

They spent the first few weeks exploring ideas of what music is to them, what they like and dislike and playing games that covered their ideas surrounding composition.

Each week they took turns at playing a variety of instruments including the keyboard, guitar, djembe, percussion and, of course, the voice. It was a time for listening to each other. It was not about concentration but the musical awareness of what each other were doing.

“It has been such a pleasure to be in the creative space
with these youngsters.”

Priscilla, Musician & Session leader

During the first four weeks the children started to construct ideas from the experiences they have had and snow balling that experience creatively.

                                  “All the children are coming in asking
‘when is my music session?!’”

Zoey, Inters Project Manager CASPA

In weeks 5 and 6 the ideas had started shaping up and a number of pieces were emerging that will potentially be performed or recorded.

The emergence of a girl band and their song “Phat Cats R Cool”  shaped up nicely with Layla on vocals, Sophie and Maddie on keys and Chloe on percussion and vocals. This song emerged from a pass the sound game, which was put together with a beat. A rap was improvised over the jam and Boom! ‘Phat cats’ were born!

“Ella has been here for 5 years and I have not
seen her focus for that long.”

Lucy, Inters Volunteer – CASPA 13/5/16

There was keen interest in the digital recording of music and Ned used a software application called GarageBand with the groups to capture their ideas, which provided a record of their ideas and music, to listen back to.

Alfie & Clarke have been particularly keen and  focused on the elements involved in the recording process.

Whilst the original intention of the project was to prepare performances for the annual CASPA Got Talent showcase, because the date of this event was brought forward to June, it was decided that the young people would record their performances so that their achievements could be shared more widely with family, friends, CASPA and CMIA.  So on the 15 July, Ned and Priscilla pulled together the tracks that the young people had recorded and these have been posted throughout this blog for your listening pleasure.

There were a total of 18 young people who attended the project, with 11 attending weekly.

“A beautiful moment for me personally in this project was when all the children went for a walk in the woods except Ella, who stayed behind with Lucy to work with Priscilla one to one on a new song on her own. From a piano part she had been creating at school she talked with Priscilla about summertime and after getting down the key words, Ella was able to thread the lines together. Ella had a moment of uncertainty when trying to play and say words at the same time and was convinced she couldn’t do it! She taught me the piano part and then after we did it together a few times I sat back while she re-taught me a bit and she was doing it all herself! Fantastic development in a short space of time. She was so focused and patient with me. After this moment of achievement Priscilla brought out a small finger piano and showed Ella how to press a rhythm with both hands. The result was spell binding, Ella sitting quietly improvising her way round this gentle instrument… Stunning!”

Helen, CMIA Project Manager

“Ned and Priscilla both have a really gentle and organic way of
letting the children explore their own musicality –
It is a joy to see in action the simplest of games
creating the fundamental basics of
composition with astounding results!

Helen Lolljee, CMIA Project Manager

Project aims

* give participants the opportunity to engage in creative activities with inspirational professionals

* help them to express themselves in positive ways

* communicate to others what it is like living in their worlds and explore their perspective through singing and songwriting

* raise the aspirations of the young people

* deliver a live performance in the form of a ‘show’ to share with our family, friends and communities – the charity have already planned this event for 15 July 2016

“The staff are really supporting the flow. They really know the children well and are fantastic at getting everyone’s needs met without any pressure to take part.  Just to be in the room is a fantastic experience.”

 Ned Smith, Musician/ Creative Lead

Below is an interview with Alfie and Ruben, two of the young participants, who talk about their highlights & achievements.



Winter fundraising concert a huge success!

On the 5th December local Beckenham choir FUNdamentally GOSPEL joined forces with SingingNation to present a sparkly mix of pop, soul, gospel and world music, in their joint winter concert.

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The event took place in Pamoja Hall; a superb purpose-built concert hall at Sevenoaks School. The two choirs brought in a lively and engaging audience, which contributed to the great energy of the evening. In total, the concert raised a whopping £1000 for Community Music in Action.

For more videos please click here to visit FUNdamentally GOSPEL’s youtube channel.