Written by Julian West, artistic lead for Creative Encounters
There are always surprises. Even after more than 20 years of making music in care homes, I am continually caught off guard, shaken out of routines, and made to look, think and feel more deeply. We are halfway through our first project with this care home, beginning to get a feel for the rhythms, patterns and personalities of the people who live and work here. The home feels spacious, quiet, calm. If one didn’t really pay attention, one might think that very little was going on. What has struck me though is that life is everywhere. It comes to meet you at the first opportunity, sometimes with an authenticity that is almost overwhelming.
So far on this project I have met a woman who didn’t want to make any music with me, but was happy for me to join her on a walk. ‘Walking’s good’, she said to me, before taking my hand and leading me along the corridor. As we walked, we paused frequently to look at pictures on the walls, taking our time, taking it all in together. I have also met a man who doesn’t seem to speak English, but who sings quiet, improvised, wordless songs with us that are full of the passion and energy one would associate with the music of his native country. I have met a woman who looks into my eyes and shows me what it is to love; sometimes there is movement, almost never words, but there is profound feeling and emotion.
My surprise this week was the way that an elderly gentleman moved and danced with Clare. He moved with such grace and softness as they held a red scarf together, making shapes between them.
Our sessions for me are full of connections, feeling, vulnerability, authenticity, and discovery. No two sessions are ever the same.
But I always feel very much alive.