last Thursday I had so much fun leading a singing session with 20 65+ year-olds. It took place at a fortnightly coffee-club, run by a church in Dean Court. We sang old favourites, some old favourites with the odd twist, as well as some more challenging medleys of songs, the classic O When The Saints, layered with Swing Low, This Train, and I’m Gonna Sing, and the ‘Folkestone Sea Shanty’ which I picked up at the Arts and Heath Conference in Folkestone in September.
I think it went down well, and I’ve been invited back. I think I was able to stop singing at different points during the session and listen to the groups’ voices which was good, and I think possible mainly because they were 20 people present to support each other. I was particularly pleased that chatting afterwards, one woman, nearly 90 said ‘ I’ve never sung before in my life, but I’m too old to try new things’ – I was pleased she enjoyed the session and found it easier than she thought she would.
A few things I need to improve are:
- giving clear instructions – thinking more carefully in advance how to describe different activities.
- expanding the repertoire, although it was useful to cover the same repertoire with different groups
- thinking about how to include the men more. Out of 20 people, only 2 were men. I don’t feel the songs are at the wrong pitch, as many older women have lower voices and sing an octave below me, but I do feel they need encouragement and affirmation in a different way from the women. Answers on a postcard please.
And there was cracking cake. This generation really know how to bake!