A Year in the Making
In the year 2002, the very first Music for Health workshop (as we know it) took place. Based on many years of research David and Helen knew that it should be successful, yet the reality of seeing Residents become animated and joyful was profoundly touching, seeing what they believed would happen becoming reality. ‘Homes’ in their local Chichester Area spread the word and soon David and Helen were asked to go to many, many more ‘Homes’. Quite obviously Music for Health workshops were making a profound difference to the lives of older people in care.
‘Homes’ too far away were regularly requesting workshops and it became priority that a way had to be found to enable many more Residents to be helped. The initial thought was for Music for Health to become a charity – sadly this didn’t translate into reality, as volunteers were unable to give the regular time and commitment needed to enable the workshops to be effective. Also, MFH needed to be more selective with the people delivering the MFH programme than was possible at the time with volunteers.
The next thought was to search for amazing, joyous, dedicated people who could be trained and set up to help the Residents in the area where they live. Making this paid work part or all of their income. Franchises were looked at but Helen and David didn’t want the people of their MFH team to be held by the usual conditions of a Franchise e.g. Have to pay a renewal fee after 3 or 5 years, have to pay extra for all additional things that are supplied. The Music for Health contract reflected this. In fact still does.
Consequently all the MFH team only pay a ‘Royalty Fee’, this is a Licence Fee enabling the team to use the MFH method and the Music for Health name.
Right at the start of Music for Health becoming a professional company, David and Helen made a conscious decision, that when possible, they would continue to create new workshops and give them free of charge to the team leaders (Regional Directors) to deliver.
David, Helen TJ and Mark choose to continue this tradition, because the priority of Music for Health is still, as it has always been, to uplift, respect, engage and help Residents in care.
Music for Health is now faced with the widest spectrum of age variation possible. ‘Music for Health Inclusive’ workshops have been created to cater for all adult ages, respecting everyone, especially MFH’s original core of older Residents.
The MFH Team are constantly listing down possible workshop material. Initially this possible material is all put onto Minidisc. All the team’s suggestions are also included. This is done in a progressive way. There were 45 Minidiscs considered for the latest workshop – average number of tracks for each Minidisc is 18, giving a total of about 810 tracks in all to choose from.
Helen, assisted by TJ and Mark, listen through all the possible tracks assessing the suitability of each piece. Have they words that would be too emotive? Too suggestive? Bad language? Good standard of recording? Could any problems they may have be ironed out in the studio? e.g. unsuitable verses, long introduction, very low volume introduction, piercing singing level? Too long in total? Does the classical piece have meandering bits that could be effectively removed while still keeping the integrity of the piece? Will the residents be uplifted? Will this particular piece make them want to move? And many more considerations as each piece is evaluated for suitability.
Initially many options are chosen for each category of the workshop. The hunt is then on to ensure that there isn’t a better version or recording of all the short listed pieces.
When MFH is sure that they have the best versions possible, the final choices are made. Particular attention is given to how the pieces work together as a whole (a bit like having the right ingredients to make a perfect cake). Vibrationally balancing the workshop is one of the most difficult things MFH do, but one of the most important for a successful workshop. With so many alternatives offered for each section of the workshop it is now especially difficult to attain the balance. Helen has been balancing workshops now for fifteen years and says “it still gives me tingles when the workshop point of balance is achieved”.
Are the selections chosen what MFH think they are? Time to Shazam all the choices. This is also a time to add additional information, dates, facts etc. – as much as space allows.
New seated bi-lateral movements are worked out – ready to be test run. Different, effective, interesting and safe movements are chosen for each new workshop.
Stage 7 (Singalongs)
One of the most familiar sounds to us is our own voice. We have vocalised in many ways all of our life. Our voice kind of proves to us that we exist. The feedback we get from hearing ourselves vocalise in song is very comforting, regardless of how good (or not) our singing voice is.
Singing, especially of familiar songs is startlingly effective, even for Residents with quite severe Dementia. Also providing many family members and carers with a bridge by which they can again communicate. In addition, singing aids good respiration, better metabolism and of course singing, throughout history, has been one of the principal bonding activities. Exclusive singalongs are made for purpose as part of each workshop.
All the chosen sections of the main workshop are handed over to David and Mark in the studio, where the magic happens. The changes that need to be made are discussed – as stated in stage 2. Every piece is looked at how suitable it is for Residents. Music for Health prides itself on its workshops being exclusively made for purpose.
Stage 9 (The Quiz)
As the Minidisc search for a new workshop happens, some tracks are listed as quiz material. Often, for various reasons, the whole of a song or tune can’t be used, but for the length of each section required in the quiz – they are perfect. Often this gives a chance for residents to hear something they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. All the quiz pieces are shortened in the studio.
Appropriate facts are obtained for the questions. Any ‘Let’s Talk About’ are researched and adapted for purpose. (An alternative to the quiz)
Stage 10 (Only the Start)
Again, we know the workshop should work, but let the people decide! With all the alternatives on offer, the test running aspect can be a nightmare. Happily the last workshop required very little alteration. MFH ‘Test Run’ Residents, know how important they all are and are very dedicated to being ‘Honest!’ “Bless Them!” Seriously, they are treasured, very special people who are an invaluable part of Music for Health’s success. One Resident – Mrs T. was the one who said our workshops should be called ‘Young at Heart’. Mrs T. also suggested ‘The Stripper’ would be fun! (When explaining why she thought this, the other Residents were all shouting “Too much information!”)
Master CD’s are produced and taken to Copier.
All taken to the printer:-
- Master – Singalong Sheets
- Master – Workshop Sheets
- Master – Quiz Sheets
- Master – Let’s Talk About
MCPS Licences obtained for each new master CD.
CD inserts and labels. Designed, printed and fitted.
Everything collated and given to MFH’s lovely Team.
The next workshop is under production.
Exciting Times Ahead!