War-time Hits and Songs from the Shows: A new repertoire for Choristers at Addenbrooke’s
Director of Music at St Catharine’s, Dr Edward Wickham has in recent weeks been moving between chapel and hospital ward, leading a group of singers in regular visits to Addenbrooke’s.
Over a three week period, a quartet of singers and an accompanist have been visiting a Care of the Elderly ward in Addenbrooke’s, presenting a medley of songs designed to access powerful memories amongst patients. The project, led by Dr Wickham and Dr Jo Hampton, Consultant Geriatrician in the Department of Medicine for the Elderly, is funded by Addenbrooke’s and by CAMEO, the Cambridge Music Faculty’s outreach programme.
‘Over the course of the ‘run’, we have honed our repertoire to suit the particular age and tastes of our audience,’ reports Dr Wickham. ‘The top ten hits include ‘Lily Marlene’, ‘You’ll never walk alone’ and Flanders and Swann’s ‘Hippopotamus Song’– one which has pretty much everybody singing along. For all of us musicians, used to the more formal atmosphere of college chapels, this has been a truly educational and enriching experience. It is particularly rewarding to see the profound effect that songs can have on patients who seem in so many other ways to have shut down their responses to the outside world.’
‘We know that music can be very beneficial for patients suffering with a diagnosis of dementia,’ adds Dr Hampton. ‘But ‘live music’ is not something which has previously featured in the acute dementia ward. This project has given us a chance to observe, over several sessions, the effects of music – and particularly participatory music – on our patients; both in terms of immediate engagement with the music itself, and also as a trigger to wider engagement with outside stimuli.’
The musicians will be making a video of the best-loved songs, which will continue to be played on the ward over the coming weeks; and it is hoped that the project will lead to further work targeted at this particular hospital constituency.