Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A busy Wednesday

Wednesday May 13th was a very busy day. The Hilda Ross Glee Club performed at the University of Waikato in the 12@12 programme. This is a 12-plus minutes' performing Arts event in the School of Education. We performed 7 songs, including three from the new repertoire. The audience were most appreciative, and asked for an encore, even though one of the Glee Club members had given this away already. As I announced the last song, one of them said 'no, two more' the second being the one we had prepared for the encore. With much hilarity we were asked quite clearly to give an encore. A large portion of the audience were a group of early childhood educators, and some of them fell in love with Wally, age 91 and wanted to take him home. I told him this the next day at Glee Club rehearsal, and he was ready to go!!

From here the Glee Club move over to The Station which is a restaurant across the road from the part of the University where we performed. They had tables set for us, with tablecloths, cutlery, glasses, carafes of water and some printed version of their blackboard menu. This enabled those more ambulant to get food for the less ambulant.

I had to leave them promptly as I was heading to Cambridge to present to a residents' meeting about the Glee Club's programme at the Selwyn St Andrews complex . I was not clear exactly what was expected of me, so I took with me the printout of the latest survey that I had carried out with Glee Club. It turned out that I was speaking to residents to try and inspire them to start their own group. Their manager had heard me speak earlier in the year at the Bay of Plenty managers meeting. I have promised to help them get started, this is another 'watch this space'

The afternoon concluded with shared coffee with the visiting mental health doctor, who showed interest in the effects of singing from the aspect of those with mental health issues. I will await action in that area as well, as I understand an invitation to present to that group is coming up.

I have also been asked to review a book for the INsite journal, entitled 'connecting through music with people with Dementia'. The book arrived today, and I am enjoying reading it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

young@heart the New Zealand Story

I am probably using this title a bit out of time now, as it is a quite some time since the movie came out. However the Glee Club's journey has not be unlike that choir. I am collecting data all the time on them, having now obtained two video interviews, and planning to video interview all of the participants. I presented this project to colleagues last Friday here, at the University of Waikato, and my presentation engendered a good discussion about the sociological aspects of the research.

A strong message that came through the discussion was that I should be looking at presenting via an ethnological model, rather than a statistical model. I was asked what the prime aim of my research is, and the answer to that question is that I want to see valid, interactive, mutually respectful singing, that has an anticipation that the singing will improve, in as many settings as possible, given the growing evidence that it has such multiple effects for the people involved.

When the Glee Club were recently asked how being involved Glee Club influences their health, they replied:

77F Improved memory, breathing, clarity of diction
82M Improving it with breath control and lung ventilation
84F Helps me get out of the house, talk to other people and not think about myself. It has been a lifesaver for me.
78M An active mind and body does have health benefits
76F Good – helps with breathing, come away feeling great
75F Gives me a new lease of life
87F Its good for me; confidence is returning albeit slowly
69F It has certainly helped my asthma
85F To me it is as good as a tonic
77F The singing helps and improves my speech and my voice
69F Very beneficial – my breathing has improved and deepened since starting singing. I never imagined singing in a choir because of a chronic cough caused by Bronchiestasis which I have suffered from for 64 years.
78F Mentally and good for lungs for breathing
90M Very good.

that is just the tip of the iceberg. This gets more and more exiting the further I go!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Agewise Seminar: Social Connectedness for Older People

Yesterday I attended and spoke at the above conference. I was accompanied by Val and Val. There are three 'Val's in the Hilda Ross complex and they all now sing in Glee Club, which is great. I had a class to teach first thing and left half way through the class time to get to the conference. I left them to their own devices, preparing group performance for next Thursday for assessment so they had plenty to do. I collected the Vals from Hilda Ross, and got to the conference in time for the end of morning tea, and we were able to listen to two other presentations before it was my turn. I am pleased that I am technologically adept, and was able to link my own computer into the data display, and play the two video interviews that I could not play at the Bay of Plenty presentation. In addition I was able to include some of the data from my latest survey with the Glee Club; material to do with the effect of participation in Glee Club on health, feeling of wellbeing, and quality of life.

I have got more canny at getting them to fill the surveys out for me, I invited them to my home for lunch and all they had to bring was themselves and their survey completed. This was a delightful event, that happened March 27th and will be repeated. Next time the suggestion was that it would be pot luck and that suits me down to the ground :-)

The responses were once again very positive to my presentation, and each time I present I have added to the research that supports what I am finding. I am still amazed at the strength of the comments of the respondents to the simple act of singing. In discussion with Val and Val as we travelled, and in line with the responses to multiple surveys, I have come to the conclusion as to what a successful tutor in this setting needs to be:
  1. musically able, to play piano, or to have someone to play piano,
  2. to know about singing and how to get people to sing using their voices more effectively, i.e. improving,
  3. to be able to build mutually respectful relationships with the participants
  4. to have high expectations of the participants' capabilities
  5. to know how to have fun, to laugh and be free to laugh often