Musical Memories at Helmsley Arts Centre
‘Musical Memories is the highlight of my week. It is so enjoyable to sing melodies from the time when we were young. It brings back happy memories.’ – Keith S
‘The sessions lift your spirits. You don’t need to be able to sing. Ruth & Neil are so friendly, as are the group. I look forward to each session.’ – Karen N
‘I’m a private carer and often take my clients (with Dementia) to Musical Memories. It always gives them such a lift and we leave smiling.’ – Carmel O
‘A wonderful get together. So beneficial, making new friends and just marvellous to realise one can actually remember words to long forgotten songs.’ – Ruth R
Happy Hour with Musical Memories provides a much needed facility for older people in our community. There are multiple projects for young people in the community but older people, some with disabilities or mobility issues, often find themselves becoming socially isolated due to lack of easily accessible activities. Helmsley is a rural area and with public transport being so minimal it is often difficult for older people to socialise and to participate in activities which are good for their health and wellbeing. Living alone in a rural area can often mean not seeing or interacting with other people for long periods of time, this project aims to get people out of their homes and in to the community. Musical Memories provide a musical session where elderly people can come along, with a family member, carer, or on their own, to sing their favourite songs, have some refreshments and talk to other people in their community. It gives the participants a sense of belonging, new friendships and something to look forward to! Studies have shown that singing together can boost immunity, reduce stress, and improve mood and memory, leading to a positive impact on overall health and wellbeing.
This project will benefit multiple different people in the community in many ways. The participants, who are elderly, some with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s, or dementia are the main beneficiaries of the project. However, their families and carers also benefit from the sessions as they are provided with the opportunity to have a break, enjoy the time in the session, relax and sing along, have a chat to other people in a similar situation to themselves or to just enjoy their family member socialising and having fun in a safe and welcoming environment. The impact a project like this can have is huge and we hope to be able to provide the sessions and to spread awareness of the urgency for them, especially in rural areas. Ruth and Neil who run Musical Memories will also benefit from the sessions and we hope the more sessions they are able to do, the further the awareness spreads, the more support the project is given and the longer it is able to continue.
In 2019 we worked with a local writer, Libby Pearson, who was invited to several Musical Memories sessions at HAC to join in the singing, have a brew and chat with the participants about the songs, the memories they invoked and the stories that unravelled through the music. Over the course of a couple of months Libby listened to the stories, the songs and memories and started to piece them together into a piece of writing that would become a shared reading/performance with a local actor, Tabitha Grove. The piece was titled 'Close to Home' and was shared with participants, their families, friends, carers and HAC staff and volunteers in October, followed by lunch, tea & cake! The impact of the sharing was incredible - there were tears, laughter, song and so much joy! The project gave the participants a voice, a connection to other people and a strong sense of belonging in the community. We would like to continue working with local artists to create more connections and to give opportunities for older people in our community to engage with the arts and each other!
Ruth & Neil - Musical Memories
Natasha Jones - Artistic Director, Helmsley Arts Centre