Posts Tagged With: music therapy

Rainbow switch

Somewhere over the rainbow is a truly magical song !

I mean this in more than just a ‘wow great song’ way …. I mean – TRULY MAGICAL !

There are many blogs which agree !

Earlier this week I was doing a reminiscence show based on the theme of days out and seaside trips …. At one point I put on a plastic mack and rain hat and clutch old fashioned thermos … And refer to the often inclement weather on British seaside holidays …. But how magical it is when the sun breaks through … And there is a beautiful rainbow ….. Cue song …..!

On the very first bar of the song – I had probably only sung the famous 2 octave apart notes – a lady who had been silently hunched with closed eyes …. sat upright and opened her eyes which sparkled and smiled … And remained alert and clearly ‘joyful’ throughout the song ! Magic !

Another previously sleepy lady started tapping her foot in time and another mirroring my hand movements – embracing the music !

This is not a one off – of all the hundreds of songs I sing or play in hundreds of settings with people with various levels and types of dementia – this is amongst the most ‘triggering’ switch ones!

I have thought about why – and of course it is connected to the minor key, the octave leap ( maybe registered by hard of hearing ) , the words …. But of course a lot of these ladies and gents were adolescents when ‘Wizard of Oz’ was released – technicolor and all ! So their brains were at a highly sensitive stage of development … Memory thrown down and embedded with a big plonk !

There have been some wet eyes and cheeks too …. But a) I think tears are a sign of being alive and b) I follow it up with ‘luvely bunch of coconuts’!


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Musical Bubbles

‘….good – that’s finished …. Awful music !’

Glad to say that wasn’t said in response to my show ! It was just before the show … When the carer turned off the cd of classical music playing in the lounge! Elderly people must like classical music .. Obviously a daft assumption – but easy trap to fall into !

I am very aware of this issue of ‘musical tastes’ when I put my pieces together … Or play music whilst setting up etc …. Something like ‘ Harry Seacombe ‘ seems reasonably universally acceptable .. Harry Seacombe

Makes you think more generally about individual tastes and assumptions doesn’t it ? Do these disappear in the maelstrom of dementia ? Not from what I have witnessed ! In some ways individual quirks can be highlighted when social niceties and norms are forgotten and inhibitions trampled down !
I like Will Young….. But my man really doesn’t … He likes Nora Jones…. She doesn’t really do it for me …. But we are almost the same age …. See… Obvious really isn’t it ! I like ‘Come Dine with me’ on TV for mindless background …. He likes …Tour de France ….. Er …..

Having said all this however I wonder if there are some songs that spread themselves across all tastes …. I certainly have ‘collective’ switch on songs that I keep discovering through trial and error ….. ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ being the latest one I hit upon during a ‘high days and holidays’ reminiscence session last week …. What might it be for my generation I wonder ….. Donny Osmund’s Puppy Love ?!

On subject of music – just spotted this blog which I found thought provoking

…. Mind you … Ever noticed how ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ gets pretty much all eyes watery !

Vive la difference!



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Instant mood change

Instant mood change!

This is inspiring and relevant to all those involved with caring for someone who has a dementia …. Read on !

I was doing my ‘majestic memories’ reminiscence show ( in a care home this morning – a home I have regularly visited over the years …. And a show I have done ‘umpteen times over last few weeks in celebration of Diamond Jubilee ….. But something was wrong ….. A usually bright and engaged lady was sat expressionless and in stony silence….and I felt her mood …. But i had to carry on with upbeat show …. 2 songs in and some interesting triggers explored …. And still no change … No interaction …. My whole being was having to work hard to resist the drag of the powerful wave of this mood…. Was it anger …was it depression …. Was it sadness …. Disapproval ….? One thing i knew for certain was I wouldn’t humour her or force interaction ….. I carried on ….even a rendition of Gracie Fields ‘If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake ‘ didn’t reach this lady … Who normally loves singing ….. So …. Song number 4 … ‘on the street where you live ‘ …. Still no change ….. And then the switch … This is how it happened …

ME: I love that song …. It’s from that musical isn’t it … Um . What was it called ( i knew in reality ) …. Er …..

LADY: ….Bonnie Líes over The ocean’

ME: Oh – I love that song – how does it go … (i start to sing softly ) …

LADY: ( taking over) (sings 2 verses with gusto) !

( this wasn’t part of my 1953 reminiscence show …. But who cares …. All I cared about was the unlocking of this lady’s mood …. !)

It didn’t stop there ….. From that moment on – till I was packing up and saying goodbyes …. And I suspect beyond …. Her mood was completely transformed ! She sang, she reminisced …. She was interested … Engaged …. Smiling …. Dancing ( seated dancing ) to ‘Boomps a daisy’ … Laughing … Interacting with other residents ( who in turn were caught up in her joyous mood )!

The lesson …… Don’t give up …. One positive aspect of dementias is that moods can alter in a second … Finding the trigger might be a bit hit and miss …. And shouldn’t be forced …. But it will come …. And the satisfaction is immense !

One word was all it took … A word with a pause after …. A space for the trigger to be taken and expressed …. MY …. ( ok so it was ‘my fair lady ‘) …. My ….. ( an individual’s word association) …. My ….. ‘ Bonnie lies over the ocean ‘! Fabulous !!!

And then …… Go with the flow !


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