Spreading musical memories across the generations in Laois

Leinster Express Reporter

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Music Generation Laois Singing and Early Years Music Specialist, Nuala Kelly with pupils from Paddock NS, Mountrath. Picture Alf Harvey

‘Musical Memories’ is a Music Generation Laois (MGL) intergenerational Song-Singing project for care-home residents and  children & young people. It is an interactive, sing-a-long musical experience with songs from many different eras and genres.

It is one of a number of projects across Ireland that was successfully funded by the Positive Ageing and Creative Wellbeing
Challenge Fund as part of the Creative Ireland Programme. The programme is delivering a suite of creative initiatives on positive ageing and mental wellbeing for older people in the community and in care facilities 

In a changing landscape, technology has come to the fore and is a creative new way for a project such as this to be delivered. MGL with support from Laois Age Friendly Alliance and Healthy Ireland is working with nursing homes and young singers from the MGL singing programme.

A series of sing-along songs have been selected for and pre-recorded for the nursing homes to use as often as they need to engage residents in this singing project. 

‘Musical Memories’ aims to support positive ageing by placing a value on the input of residents in care settings; mitigate the negative impact of social cocooning by re-establishing the inter-generational human connection, and have a shared learning experience for all while preserving songs from different eras.

MGL Singing and Early Years Music Specialist, Nuala Kelly is Lead Musician for the project. She works with MGL in various Primary Schools in County Laois and as a singer/guitarist and choir director, she has been singing in residential care settings/nursing homes for many years.

"The effect of singing and live music is quite amazing and can add immensely to the quality of life of nursing home/hospital residents," said Nuala.

"I’ve seen first-hand how someone who finds it difficult to speak because of conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, can recall words to songs and sing with perfect diction," she said.

The project was successfully selected due its intergenerational focus and brings together children and young people and care-home residents. ‘Musical Memories’ is being piloted with residents of Abbeyleix Community Nursing Unit, St Vincent’s Community Nursing Unit and St Brigid’s Hospital, Shaen and with pupils of Paddock NS, Mountrath.

Nuala Kelly said a lot can be learned.

"I’m very interested in intergenerational singing as so much can be learned from each other, and along with creating these Musical Memories via a collaborative performance, the children will be preserving songs from an older generation that too often are forgotten. Myself and the project collaborators have given careful consideration to select good quality music across
different genres so there’s something in the repertoire that will appeal to all musical tastes," she said.

Live Zoom sessions with children & young people and nursing home residents are currently taking place to rehearse the songs (in line with Covid 19 regulations). The plan is to do a prerecorded video performance of all participants singing, with the possibility of a future combined performance in real-time, pending government regulations at the time. The project also includes a small team of MGL tutors on Piano, Harp and Fiddle and runs from October to December 2020.

‘Musical Memories’ is supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) and in partnership with Laois County Council.

Information on the selected songs and accompanying lyrics sheet are at www.musicgenerationlaois.ie/musicalmemories.

Go to www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en/laois for information on Creative Ireland

Laois and our other initiatives throughout Co. Laois. Follow us on FB @creativelaois, Twitter @creativelaois and Insta @creativeirelandlaois.