Angie, a jazz singer studying for a degree at Kingston University, is taking part in Arts 4 Dementia’s educational partnership pilot, whereby students at the University were given training for dementia by Live Music Now to perform weekly for a person and carer at home, matched for musical taste by Age Concern Kingston, 2010-2011.
She has been helping A, a former oratorio singer to rediscover her vocal skills. While she herself has a natural flair for engaging her audience, she determined from the first to challenge her singer. Rather than give a song sheet to be read, she sang, spoke the words and allowed her singer to sing them herself to a CD backing track. Then they sang together, the singer managing fractions of words at first, with perfect melody. Gradually, over the sessions, she got the words together with the melody, shoulder s began to move, eyes a-twinkle as they made music together. As a visual aid, Angie introduced the singer and her husband to YouTube. At once the couple started dancing, and ‘Woo-wooing to the Chatanooga Choo-Choo.
Angie gives herself the challenge of thinking up something new each week. ‘It’s wonderful to feel I can help towards someone’s healing using my vocal skills. I feel part of something special. It’s like watching someone wake up from sleep and recall their dream in great detail, as if I were waving a fairy wand and suddenly A sprang into life. We’re having fun together. It’s exhilarating!’