28 Jun 2017

Making Bridges with Music: Lullabyee by Hugh Nankivell

The last session at Bethesda today – and we made stories and songs and played and held hands and hugged and laughed and smiled and cried (a little) and now this wonderful little experiment has come to an end. But the story didn’t end, we just went to sleep, we ended – as we always do with a lullaby. After a lullaby we sleep and dream until a week later when we wake up again and start playing together again and feel like a big family aged from one to a hundred who are all singing from the same page and playing the same game and telling the same story for that short time together.

The skinship is really important. How much of it do we do together? We hold hands, we hug, we sit on each other’s laps, we (sometimes) roll around together on the floor, we dance together, we wave to each other and we row boats together, always making sure that no-one gets left out. At our final session today several of the older residents said that their favourite moment of the day was seeing one of their colleagues smile and laugh. They have known ‘B’ for several years and siad they had never seen her smile or laugh in all that time. The moment was when she held hands with a young child and their hands swayed from side to side as we sang a new song about how we have all got bones! There is magic in these moments. ‘B’ came alive to her friends and they found real joy in sharing that moment.

Today there was physically active dancing led by M,(aged 3) and before we knew it there were four folks in their 80’s and 90’s up dancing as well. This has not happened before and was wonderful. We have been physically active throughout all our sessions, playing instruments, conducting, clapping and more. I am not surpirsed that the children and the elders sleep well afterwards. I do.

The final session today in the afternoon after the children had gone home was another special moment. We only sang new material and we created a new song. I am not sure that there are many situations with elderly people where a group focusses for so long on newly created original material. We ended our story with a lullaby.

We travelled so far
Now let’s go home
Under the stars
We’re never alone



The words describe what has happened. We have told a long story over the six weeks, each week never quite ending, but leaving us wanting more. Now it is time for the children (and Meg, Steve and I) to go home.

But we know that we are never alone.

We sleep well.

Making Bridges With Music is an innovative project bringing young and old together to make music. Childminders are bringing pre-school children to three different residential and care homes in Torbay during June and July to see what happens when the generations meet and create new music, song, stories and more. The project is funded primarily by Awards For All and with the support of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Doorstep Arts and Torbay Council.