In 2012, Community Music in Action delivered a project that worked with the elderly users of ‘White Gables ‘, a day centre in Bromley, set up by the Alzheimer’s Society. The music sessions, led by Kim Perkins, were such a success we have asked her to work with us again on a similar project this year at Clairleigh Nursing Home.
Kim is delivering an hour long music session each week, for the duration of the ten week project. Each weekly session has a different musical focus, for example folk, classical, popular, jazz and world music, as well as music made for the stage and screen. The sessions explore singing, percussion and instrumental music. CMIA will be purchasing a djembe drum, which will be gifted to Clairleigh for the residents to use in future music sessions within the home.
During the first session the focus was on confidence and 2-part singing, drawing on African songs, rock ’n’ roll numbers, and writing new lyrics to the folk classic ’The River is Flowing’. The workshop ended with a knees up – with the group showing Kim how a knees up is really done!
“One of the participants has a really good ear and picks up rhythms
from the piano accompaniment that she adds whilst singing;
she was our Ringo Starr today. The group really enjoyed songs like
Dream, Why do fools fall in love and Let’s Twist Again.
They channelled their inner teenager for Satisfaction (I can’t get no) and
sang songs in 2-parts adding shoowops, doowops
and da do rons, typical of the idiom.”
Kim Perkins, Workshop Leader
In one of the following weeks the group explored songs from around the world: including songs in Spanish, Sesotho and Polynesian. The participants were really open to new experiences and material. They mashed up Guantanamera with Twist and Shout, sang welcome in Arabic, and Que Sera Sera for their oldie but goody number!
Another session explored jazz classics with the group, exploring songs by Cab Calloway, Nina Simon, Peggy Lee and more. The group discovered walking basslines – particularly as they sang 5 songs in one. But the most fun came from their warm-up of “Mama Don’t Allow” and “Down Down” as the group really got into vocalising, and singing in parts with guest musician Ruth on the bass helping to hold the tune with one group and the rest harmonising with Kim, the workshop leader.
Music is a huge motivator for the group who often go about their daily activities either individually i.e. watching television in their rooms, or in small groups. So coming together as a group of 15-18 to sing has been really exciting.
“They’ll be happy the rest of the day now”
“Member of staff, Clairleigh
Rock’n’roll week had the participants singing hits by Little Richard, The Beatles and Elvis. Luckily this didn’t encourage too much of a rebellious streak but definitely lots of singing and drumming. When they were singing ‘She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah), Anne, one of the participants said how one of her children used to sing “yeah yeah yeah” in the pram after hearing that song when it was first released.
- to enhance the general wellbeing of and raise the spirits of participants through collaborative music making and an enjoyable shared experience, bringing the residents of Clairleigh together.
- To benefit residents with dementia, for whom specific music may help them to recall past experiences, and personal memories.
To improve vocal and rhythm techniques and sing songs in different genres, learning from a professional.~
To include everyone and make activities accessible to all participants.
To work towards a final performance event for carers to attend.
To document the project through film/photos.
To encourage collaboration, community spirit and a sense of achievement.
Kim Perkins is an active workshop leader who works with members of the community helping to discover and explore their creativity. Trained classically in flute and piano, she graduated from the University of York in 2004 with a BA in Music. During her studies Kim developed a passion for community music, volunteering as a key member of Music Education Group which provided workshops for school children in York. After university she worked at the Royal Academy of Music Museum for over four years as Museum Project Coordinator. In this role she was responsible for managing various aspects of the museum including the project management and delivery of outreach events and educational resources, organising major events including conferences, fundraising and policy development.