Eleanor is one of the students participating on the Adages project which has involved creative sessions with older people with dementia and has unlocked a multitude of ideas and inspiration that have been woven into to beautiful new piece of music.
Renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks stated that, ‘Music is part of being human…Its’ very ubiquity may cause it to be trivialised in daily life…But to those who are lost in dementia, the situation is different. Music is no luxury to them, but a necessity, and can have a power beyond anything else to restore them to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.’
Music has an incredible capacity to restore agency in the most vulnerable people. It can offer relaxation and stimulation and can mediate where words fail, providing a means of communication for those who are non-verbal.
Eleanor worked alongside lead musician Holly Marland in delivering creative sessions in different dementia care settings. These involved residents and patients singing, writing poetry, having creative conversations and improvising using percussion. The ideas generated through these sessions have been arranged and orchestrated, with the title of the piece drawn from a remark from a Polish lady with dementia as musicians played beside her bedside – ‘So Many Beauties’.
Eleanor had a terrific rapport with the participants who were clearly charmed and enlivened by the sound of her bassoon and her beautiful singing. She created a range of textures that met the sounds being made by residents and was fluent and supportive working within the team.
Here’s what Eleanor has to tell us;
“I’m a first year postgraduate bassoon student at the Royal Northern College of Music. I completed my undergraduate degree in music at the University of Nottingham and have been extremely passionate about music performance from a very young age. I have played with, and enjoyed being a part of many chamber groups and orchestras including Bird College Youth Orchestra, University of Nottingham Philharmonia, RNCM Opera Orchestra and the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra. I love the diversity to be found in music as I also play the clarinet and saxophone and love playing different genres of music. This has included jazz as part of The University of Nottingham’s Moonlighters Big Band and in shows such as Sweeney Todd and The Producers at The Nottingham Arts Theatre.
I love music’s ability to connect with so many different people of all ages in different and personal ways. I enjoy volunteering and being a part of music outreach and have recently worked with primary school children to create and rehearse their own original opera which was performed at the RNCM. Being given the opportunity to work beside Holly in her work in Dementia care homes and hospital wards has been an incredible experience from which I have learned so much. It gives me so much joy seeing the moment when music affects someone in any way, and the experiences of residents breaking into song or even just a smile really shows the importance and potential of music itself. Through ‘So Many Beauties’ Holly has shown music to be a completely unique way to communicate and express emotions and stories and I am very excited to be part of a performance that conveys so many people’s thoughts and feelings, perfectly captured by Holly.”
Tickets are available now for the performance on Thursday 6 April at Manchester Cathedral 7pm from http://www.adages.eventbrite.co.uk at a very reasonable price. The performance is dementia friendly and there will be many representatives from different UK dementia agencies who will be able to answer questions informally after the concert as well as giving out information. Please do support this incredible event!