HADDINGTON EH41 3BU – Lammerlaw ward Christmas party
About the concert: Todays concert was in a locked down ward for patients with dementia. It was a Christmas concert planned for the residents by the staff for them and their families.
Verbal content and clarity: Todays approach was to set up without the PA and lay for around 10/12 patients and the staff. The room was adequate and had hard floor and walls so the sound was sharp. Upon starting the concert there wasn’t much verbal content from the patients as they were happy just to watch.
Some of the residents would start to talk to themselves through the performance and it was unclear what they were saying, I don’t think it was singing along to the songs until I started playing Silent Night. That was the song that seemed to get the best response from a mood that I would describe as being slightly flat.
I decide that since I was getting the most verbal response from this song that I would hold back on the guitar for one of the chorus’s so everyone singing could hear better and so we did a section accapella. This was a very touching moment, as it seemed that everyone was singing along.
Vocalization of residents: The vocational of the clients did really have any communication value. However from what I did hear it was calm and so it was appropriate to play slow songs as the faster paced ones didn’t seem to be going down as well.
Eye Contact: The most engagement was definitely done through eye contact. I felt it was important to utilise that in this scenario. There was a good few times where I felt I was able to communicate and sing the songs to the clients and it was repaid by a smile.
Facial Expressions: This was difficult concert to read the facial expressions on the majority of the clients. There were plenty of smiles but there was also the equal amount of blank looks.
Body Posture: I would normally look for dancing to really give a concert the thumbs up for proper commitment. This performance had lots of foot tapping which is a great indication that the music is getting through.
Movement: There was a lot of unsettlement from some of the clients. One of the patients family members was telling me that the ward is like that a lot and her dad was on a lower medication which was making him walk about more. The gentleman in question had no link to the music and just kept walking about. It’s difficult to think about what I could have done other than trying to keep the mood high and enjoyable.
On-going evaluation: This concert was enjoyable but it was difficult. The patients were really at the advanced stages of dementia and really needed a lot of attention. Trying to keep their attention and focus on the music was difficult. The staffs were there on hand but I’m unsure if they were also engaged. One of the staff told me that they were disappointed with the turn up as only two sets of family members seemed to have made the effort to come to spend time.
In gigs like this it seems important to take things slow, introduce your self clearly and state that your there to sing songs with them. The secret to this gig was to find out more on what the clients like and learn some songs for them. There was a big reaction to Johnny cash Folsom prison Blues, one of the patients visitor told me that their mum really liked that type of music and that she always used to play country. If I was going back to this place I would learn some of the clients name and play a little more 50’s country to engage better with them. Its important to get this crowd to sing as they aint going to be dancing unless there is more help from the staff.
He staff were very complementary about the performance and said that they would have me back. I just feel I could do more in these situations. I have been reading the book, “connecting through music with people with dementia by Robin Rio.
This is a great book as it not only deals with the musical aspect but it also discusses the emotional aspects of people looking after the patients.
I learned from reading this book that there are times when some thing is music don’t seem to work because your not seeing the visual side of it. These people are alive inside and the simplest smile of eye contact or the fact they are tapping their foot can really be a sign that you’re making a difference.