Information for the Session Leader
I hope you will take the time to read this information because it will help you to understand how to use the CD and booklet to its best advantage.
'Memories Shared 'Thro Song' ©1994, is a programme I devised to stimulate the minds of older people and, hopefully, give pleasure to those who are younger. The songs are of different types and the years in which they were composed span the 20th century.
Because it creates and encourages conversation the programme is not only successful as a general audience participation entertainment but it also helps to stimulate conversation if you run out of things to talk about when visiting an elderly person.
It is also extremely beneficial when used as a reminiscence therapy for those who suffer from dementia or Altzeimer's. You might consider that some information listed in this booklet will not be understood by people with dementia but through my numerous performances I learned never to underestimate what dementia sufferers can remember; many good conversations have resulted from memories the music and events provoke, even from people who haven't spoken for a lengthy period of time.
Each song on the CD is listed in the booklet together with a few brief snippets about events that occurred during the years in which the songs were first performed and there are also suggestions for general discussion about each song. However, this information is intended only as a guide or prompt and to 'get the ball rolling'.
In most cases the person leading the session will be younger so in order to encourage the audience it is helpful if you plan ahead, decide which songs and events you intend to use and read about the suggested events online. You will discover that the more you learn about things that happened when they were younger the better you will be able to chat to older people during their day to day care.
Without doubt music is a trigger to memory so immediately after playing a track tell your audience the year in which the song was composed and talk about an event that happened during that year. For instance remind your audience that in 1956 Julie Andrews played Eliza Doolittle in 'My Fair Lady' in the West End and Rex Harrison played Professor Higgins. Ask who remembers them? Encourage discussion.
For instance, take the fact that in 1956 we had our first self service shops in the UK but before that products were weighed individually for each customer. This was necessary because families were of differing sizes and rationing meant they were only permitted a certain number of ounces per family each week. It wasn't possible to buy pre packaged food as we do today, customers had to queue at different counters; dairy counter, meat counter, general provisions were all served separately. Shopping was a lengthy process. Research pre self service day
and share what you have learned but also ask who remembers shopping in those days and above all, show interest.
Don't worry if a song was composed before a person was born because many of the events are well known historical facts. You can also talk about the lyrics of the songs so the discussion can be diversified; the most vital thing is to stimulate minds, get people talking and recalling things from their own life experiences.
Laughter is a wonderful thing so try to amuse your group (or individual) with humour from your life. Sometimes the memories bring a tear but don't worry if that happens, remind the person that there must have been happiness before the tear or there would be nothing to be tearful about. Try to get them to talk about those happy times.
Before ending a session I always asked if anyone had any memories they would like to share but which had not been covered by the years of the songs. This gives people who perhaps hadn't the courage to speak the chance to say something. Ask them if there is a particular holiday, party or celebration memory they would like to share.
From experience I know that 45 minutes is the best length of time for a session. The songs can be used many times because in each session different memories will develop and different people will share their memories.
It is vitally important that some time is allowed for after the session ends because almost certainly someone will to come to you for a few quiet, personal words.
I hope your sessions will give you as much pleasure as I experienced during the years in which I sang these songs live, both as a reminiscence therapy for those with dementia and as an entertainment for others.