It humbles me to acknowledge that my 2018 was so incredibly chock full of musical activism, that I neglected this here blog.
While I can excuse this as an easy trap to fall into, what sort of musical activist am I if I'm not communicating my message to you?
So. Here I am, rectifying. And getting down to brass tacks on an important issue.
A short run down of 2018 highlights would include;
* Delivering over 120 Musical Walkabout 1-2-1 minstrel sessions with local care homes, which would equate to over 1250 individual songs sung to socially isolated resident
*Attending and minstrelling the Alzheimer's Show at Olympia, making many new contacts and friends in the care sector, and promoting my mission of access to music for all on a broader platform
* Hosting renowned Dutch music and dementia practitioner Ignar Rip at two free workshops he delivered on integrating music into care - this was truly inspiring and saw a host of attendees similarly excited to be learning about his practice
* Curating a 'Music Memories' networking event in Folkestone. This was about bringing together a wide range of specialists, volunteers, health care professionals, musicians and passionate members of our vibrant local community to educate and collaborate around music, dementia and wellbeing
* Presenting my evidence and proposals for profound change at a Music in Society inquiry in the House of Lords. Dr Julia Jones of Found in Music, industry leaders on this topic, organised this inquiry, and Sir Muir Grey chaired the meeting on 'Coping With an Ageing Population'
It's this last point that I'd like to expand upon for a moment.
Yes, indeed. For myself and Musical Walkabout, and more significantly, for how music is perceived, utilised and valued. In the care sector, in our legislature, and by our society. But, where do we start?
Well, here's a starter for ten...
Why do care homes have little or no budget to afford musical interventions and activities for their residents?
Because they have to draw from THE WRONG BUDGET.
The average care home's 'entertainments/activities' budget is horrifyingly small (sometimes as little as £30 per month). Just think about that for a moment. Think about what sort of quality of life that equates to for residents of these homes. The strain activity coordinators and social care staff are under to provide for their residents with these constraints is profound, and yet they bear these burdens with a smile, always giving their all.
I proposed to a room of specialists in the field at the House of Lords the following;
*that given the scientific evidence proving the tremendous health benefits of music is overwhelming...
*and it is documented that music cuts through the effects of dementia in ways pharmaceuticals simply cannot
* MUSICAL INTERVENTIONS MUST BE PAID FOR OUT OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL BUDGET!
Because it works. Better than the drugs. It allows people living with dementia to be reached - it is a break in the clouds.
I am currently branching the Musical Walkabout out into more than session delivery - offering training and consultancy around music and dementia.
But alongside this must come a formulated plan to lobby for profound change in our legislature that would recognise and value this evidence, and allow the care sector to allocate their funds more sustainably, ensuring they are able to deliver the highest level of care possible to their charges.
I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts and experiences on these topics - so my call to action this time is - - - TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!