I’m just home from a residential care home, having led a short ‘taster’ session. It was seriously challenging as well as being enjoyable too.
It is a fairly large residential care home, with a fantastic ethos – the activities co-ordinator frequently takes some of the residents to the pub! As with larger numbers of people, there is bound to be a greater diversity of people in terms of their abilities/limitations. Having previously met some of the residents, I wasn’t quite prepared (in terms of variety of songs/resources) to cater for the different levels that I found there. Although the session went reasonably smoothly, and part of the reason for this taster session was to gauge people’s needs, I was disappointed that I had not been able to engage with every person, and draw them into what I hoped to be an enjoyable and uplifting musical experience.
Having said this, many participants did enjoy themselves. Some were singing along and using percussion instruments to beat (or shake) in time. I think a small change of mixing up the people of different abilities would help enormously, as it would enable the less able people to feel more involved.
- Take in more material than you plan to use, including songs of varying complexity, from the very simple, to the more difficult.
- Develop songs or activities to assess people’s different levels.
- Underline the importance of a tailored music session and emphasise the point of a taster session
- Don’t be afraid to ask staff for small changes in the set-up. They want the sessions to be positive, as much as you do.
- Enjoy it! Even if you feel like you are struggling, keep going, keep being enthusiastic, don’t give up.