My task today is to use a quote for inspiration for writing about something. I’m not a person that can reel off quotes, I don’t know how I would have coped with doing the English exams that the schools do nowadays, and I found overwhelming or perhaps nothing particularly stood out. The Saturday Guardian newspaper is often full of interesting articles and so I sat with my cup of tea in the sunny kitchen browsing. Nothing in the magazine section. I try the Review section. All rather academic and dry for my tastes, but then in the Arts section Patrick Jones writes about his latest play.

Singing brings me back to life

The play “Before I leave” is about how singing together can help dementia patients. For the length of their particular song, people living with dementia can seemingly become animated again and join in communally. It seems musical memory, because of its dispersed nature in the brain, can last longer.

I belong to a small instrumental music group and we are going to play at the end of the month to a local care home. I went to see it last Thursday, to see where we would be playing and what needed to be changed to accommodate us. The venue will be the large sitting room in a Victorian villa and we will occupy the bay window. On entering the generously heated room, I found around twenty to thirty ladies seated around its edges with a large television on in one corner. There was no conversation and I would guess two thirds of the people were not watching the TV.

According to the article, 70% of people in care homes have dementia. I hope our playing makes a difference to a few people, but I hope that next time we will be able to include tunes that will catch their residual memories and for a brief time, bring them back to life. I also hope that in the future, if I too start losing my memories, someone will be kind enough to put on some early 80s synth music so that I can once more dance and sing around the room.

Gold for the soul by Patrick Jones, Guardian 21st May 2016