Positive Ageing – enhancing wellbeing through reminiscence and music

The Conservatoire and Age Exchange project at Langton Way sheltered housing scheme report April – June 2018


Malcolm Jones (Age Exchange)
Elliott Morris (The Conservatoire)

Funding: Blackheath Ward

The project was a first collaboration between the Blackheath Conservatoire and Age Exchange and exploring ways of using reminiscence and live music together. Working with Elliott from the Conservatoire allowed us to bring the element of live music and composition to the sessions.

Langton Way 9 April - 11 June 2018

We had a consistent attendance of 7 residents with occasionally more as other individuals joined in. Audrey, Linda, Janet, Kitty, Edie, Lynn and John came almost every week. Occasionally staff sat in on the session too.

We were very grateful for the support of Linda, one of the residents, who organised tea and coffee and making sure they were all there for the visits.

Debbie George, the manager at Langton Way, was also very supportive and involved despite working over two sites.

We themed sessions each week to a low us to reminisce around a special subject including first jobs, musical memories, films and cinema going, a good night out, home and public health, holidays and the seaside, food and drink and how life in the home has changed.  We took themed objects along to act as triggers and sometimes images or music as well.

The aim was to create a friendly, funny and creative atmosphere. There were issues about the future of living at Langton Way and general issues about isolation that meant the element of laughter and community in the sessions were as important as the outcome.

We created 3 songs. Two were created by adding participants memories into a ‘known’ tune; “We Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. We included memories of the seaside and film going. The other song came from memories of nights out and I wrote the lyrics based on the groups’ stories and Elliott composed new music to create the song. Elliott also brought along warm up exercises and the round of ‘ Senwa Dedende’ which they enjoyed. The group got pleasure in hearing Elliott play and having live music within the session.

The final session on 11 June included visitors from Greenwich Council and Age Exchange and The Conservatoire. We shared the songs we had created and the way we worked in sessions.

Wentworth House 17 and 24 April

We also ran two reminiscence and music sessions at Wentworth House.

Feedback and conclusions

The feedback was that the regular participants very much enjoyed the sessions on many levels. Importantly the sessions at Langton Way provided an opportunity for residents to come together and spend time we each other. For some of the physically less able participants it obviously provided an important opportunity to be involved and social. The group very much enjoyed the element of live music being part of the sessions and hearing Elliott playing the guitar. They also enjoyed the informal reminiscence and sharing memories and learning more about each other. I think they were rightly proud of the achievement in creating pieces of music that were personal to them and value their stories.

It was a very satisfying project in that it provided both creative stimulation but also created a sense of community among the ever present members of the group.

The outcome of the creation of songs was also appropriate for this group. It allowed for a gentle way of celebrating the stories they shared and all the participants joined in enthusiastically and with a great humour.