Sing it with me “on the twelfth day of Blogmas on minims and mischief!” Super cheesy I know, but had to be done! For the twelfth day of blogmas, I thought I would document a super Christmassy day off spent volunteering at a local community music group called ‘cake and chorus’.
Cake and Chorus is a music group run by a lovely lady named Helen who I met when I worked for the Alzheimer’s Society delivering ‘Singing for the Brain’ sessions. The group is for those with memory diseases, learning difficulties, the elderly, carers, those who are lonely etc to come together for an afternoon of singing and cake! I used to help out with this group regularly, but since I am snowed under with work and uni haven’t been able to attend as much as I would like. However, when Helen needs some time off she always drops me a message to see if I am able to cover the sessions and I was happily able to help out this week.
Usually during the sessions, we sing an array of songs from old war tunes to more recent hits, but as it is December I decided to whack out the Christmas book and we spent the afternoon singing some carols. This went down a treat and filled me with so much festive cheer! After all – the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!
Helen is a guitar player so usually we all sit in a circle around her and sing the songs. However, I am not blessed with guitar playing skills and am a pianist, so I use the piano and everyone gathers around whilst I attempt to play the songs on a very dodgy old piano in the hall. I love playing piano and really should do it more as I am super rusty at the moment. However, I am always amazed at the how my body just remembers how to play – muscle memory is truly amazing.
Another truly amazing thing is the power of music. I never cease to be surprised and inspired by the impact that music can have on humans. There is a gentlemen who comes to group that can still play his instruments (Clarinet, Saxophone, Recorder, Fiddle etc) to the highest standard despite having acute Alzheimer’s disease. I have also seen people not able to remember their name but able to sing and respond to their favourite old song. I sometimes wonder if I should have pursued by previous aspirations in music therapy instead of the field of clinical psychology, but I would never want music to become a chore to me or something I purely do to pay the bills. I also feel blessed that despite no formal training in music therapy, I am able to be paid by organisations like Singplicity and the Alzheimer’s Society as a professional musician to deliver sessions like this – I would do it for free too as I just love it so much!
I am so glad I was able to share such a festive and fun afternoon with a lovely group of people. After chatting to them over the past few years, it is apparent that for some of them these sessions are the only time in the week they get out of the house or speak to other people. I was thanked numerous times just for covering so the sessions didn’t have to be cancelled. There was a great turn out too, with over 20 people squeezing into our little community hall. I hope it won’t be long before I am able to help out again.