Together in Sound moves online

16 April 2020

A Together in Sound online session.

We are delighted to provide online interactive music therapy sessions for people living with dementia as part of our Together in Sound project, delivered in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University.

Together in Sound, our music therapy project for people living with dementia and their companions, has been delivered in partnership with the Cambridge Institute of Music Therapy research at Anglia Ruskin University since 2017. The programme runs in 10 week blocks, during which participants meet weekly at Saffron Walden’s Salvation Army Hall, for social time, followed by group music therapy sessions delivered by Claire Molyneux, Senior Lecturer at ARU, and music therapy students from. Each term a sharing event in Saffron Hall brings the groups together with friends, family, and recently students from local primary schools, to share some of what they’ve been doing and enjoy music, food and social time together.

This Spring’s programme has been rather different in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. We were able to deliver the first sessions as planned, including a visit from wonderful musicians from our resident orchestra LPO’s Future First programme. However, the social distancing measures and lockdown came into force halfway through our planned 10 week block. We have, however, been able to continue to deliver sessions online, and maintaining the community, fellowship, and music making that has been such an important part of Fridays at Saffron Hall for so long, feels more important than ever.

Anglia Ruskin music therapists, London Philharmonic Orchestra musicians and Saffron Hall staff lead an online music therapy session

Anglia Ruskin music therapists, London Philharmonic Orchestra musicians and Saffron Hall staff lead an online music therapy session

After leading the first session, Claire said “It was very moving to observe participants recognise, engage with each other, and respond to the various musical interactions we offered via their screens. This continuation of the bonds they have made with each other in the music therapy sessions is vital in the face of the increased isolation that Covid-19 has brought."

Katie McKinnon, Saffron Hall’s Learning and Participation Coordinator, added: “Running Together in Sound sessions online, via online video conferencing software, worked better than any of us expected. We were able to provide support and guidance to help everybody get set up to access it online, and once we got up and running it was business as usual."

A normal Together in Sound session

Happy memories from a slightly more normal, face-to-face session

We wondered whether some of the social aspect would be lost due to the barriers of cameras and laptops, but via our devices we were able to wave to and greet each other as usual, make music, share jokes and stories and cheer each other on. It seems Together in Sound will be a beacon of hope and something to look forward to in these isolation months, just as it is described by our participants in its usual form. Together in Sound are a community who rely on each other and lift each other up, and ensuring the high quality of life and well-being created by being part of a supportive community is more important than ever in these uncertain times.

We were also delighted to be able to welcome back the LPO Future First musicians online, where they gave mini recitals for participants from their own homes, and joined in the group music making.

We are planning to continue together in Sound online through the summer, and applications will be open for new participants interested in taking part in Autumn, hopefully once again back in face to face sessions.