This summer, Mindsong - music for dementia, this year's Festival Charity, is delighted to join with the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival to bring exciting new project, Turtle Song, to Gloucester.
A Turtle Key Arts, English Touring Opera and Royal College of Music Collaboration. In Partnership with Mindsong & the Three Choirs Festival. Funded by: The Scouloudi Foundation, The Swire Charitable Trust, The Schroder Charity Trust, Mindsong.
Turtle Song Gloucester, in partnership with Mindsong & the Three Choirs Festival, is currently taking place at St Mary’s Congregational Church and is now entering its third week of the ten-week project.
TURTLE SONG IS AN INTERGENERATIONAL PROJECT THAT BRINGS MUSIC, SONG WRITING, MOVEMENT AND SINGING TO PEOPLE WITH ALL FORMS OF DEMENTIA AND MEMORY PROBLEMS TOGETHER WITH THEIR COMPANIONS AND CARERS.
Turtle Song first ran in 2007 and subsequently 28 projects have run across the country, including three that are currently running in: Gloucester, Suffolk & Oxford. It is free to all participants and the aims are to enjoy singing together, to write a song cycle, to record the songs and to give the brain and body mental stimulation and exercise.
Turtle Song is about creating brand new material as a group; guided by the Composer and Director. The participation of young musicians is an essential part of the process, allowing people of different ages and experience to learn from each other. Intergenerational work in dementia helps to break down barriers and reduce stigma.
Specifically, at Turtle Song Gloucester, the group of 22 participants (companions & carers included) are working with professional Composer, Richard Barnard and Director, Claire Coaché to create a song-cycle using the 300 years of the Three Choirs Festival as a theme. The team are also supported by four local music students, one music therapist from Mindsong, two local volunteer musicians, plus a representative from both Turtle Key Arts & Mindsong. The carer of two of the participants commented that “The two sessions that they have attended have had a significant effect on both of them, more talkative, remembering what happened on the journey and during the session for a longer period of time, and it has had a positive effect on their self-esteem”
The group have created two songs so far. The first is called “The Three Rivals” and is a comedic song inspired by the competitive nature of the Three Choirs Festival cities! The comedy particular shines through when the song is performed by the group, with lots of brilliant acting & actions.
During week two, the group wrote lyrics using the three Cathedrals as inspiration. One of the participants left this particular session saying “I feel tranquil and my heart is full”.
Here is Verse 1 of “Cathedral Song”:
We go for a walk by the side of the Cathedral
Space to breathe,
to enjoy community
pinnacle of the city
It makes you happy knowing that it’s there
“Turtle Song was a musical performance of pure wonder and fun, after weeks of collaboration, rehearsals, writing music and lyrics, tea drinking and luxury biscuit scoffing for people of varying ages - all of whom suffer from dementia. It was beautiful, fun and enlivening. I was so touched by the effort and love that the organisers of this event and the music students put into this performance” Daughter of a previous participant
"I cried silent tears of sorrow, of pride, of happiness, of loss, of admiration, of gratitude and more. Thank you for bringing joy to my mum, for accepting her just as she is and for making her truly happy. I have not seen her smile like that for a long time, today she was my beautiful, intelligent, kind & caring, fun loving mum again” Daughter of a previous participant
The project aims to seek out people with dementia who might be affected by isolation and depression and to encourage a positive outlook through music. The project enables participants to write and perform their own song cycle helping to improve and maintain cognitive pathways and raise self-esteem through empowerment. It locates people living at home, or in care, and provides them with artistic and social stimulation through an enjoyable and shared activity.
Turtle Song is currently running at St Mary’s Congregational Church, Gloucester and will culminate with a sharing for friends, family and interested parties on Tuesday 30th July.
If you are interested or want to find out more, get in contact by calling 020 8964 5060 or emailing Charlotte.
TURTLE KEY ARTS
ENGLISH TOURING OPERA
ROYAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC