Transforming Communities

Michael’s Story: Newcross Care Home, Wolverhampton

Michael’s Story

Michael had no musical training as a child but his mother was a trained pianist, piano teacher and also played the piano at silent movies. His father was a very good singer and was a member of an amateur operatic society. Both his older brother and sister were forced to learn to play piano, but Michael rebelled and refused to learn, making the excuse that he was tone deaf! In later life he was able to tap out a tune with one finger when he wanted to and in his role as deacon in the church he often started the hymns at services.

All of his children were involved in a marching band during their youth and his wife helped teach some of the music, but Michael’s involvement was totally non-musical – he was the official photographer.

In later life he began to really enjoy a sing song, something he hadn’t previously shown interest in.

When he first took part in Live Music Now sessions at Newcross Care Home in Wolverhampton, he was offered a drum to play, but he declined that and all other instruments offered. When his daughter sat next to him and played a tambourine, Michael occasionally leant over and tapped it but declined to take it when offered. He was adamant that he did not wish to take part! However, by the end of that first session he was gently tapping his foot.

As the weekly sessions continued he regularly joined in with the singing, even “ad-libbing” at times and using a shaker or a tambourine. He now not only really enjoys every session, but also tells his daughter (who continues to attend as many of the sessions as possible), how much he enjoys them. He always comes away from the sessions happy, contented and relaxed.

“During the live music now sessions we have had multiple positive reports from residents and families telling us how much they are enjoying it. From our point of view it is lovely to see so many residents engaged and wanting to come to every session that is held. All participants in the musical activities have always been drawn in and had 1 to 1 encouragement to make sure they are enjoying the activities and understanding what they can gain from it. When the Live Music Now musicians first started to come in we had very little participation from a lot of our residents but as time went on it has now become one of our most popular activities with rooms being full and overcrowded as there are that many wanting to be there. Not only does it stimulate their mental wellbeing but it is also lovely to see residents from different floors socialising, encouraging each other and making new friendships. I personally have found it to be a very eye opening experience as I have found the wonder that music has on our residents no matter what their condition.”
Chloe Westley- Wellbeing and Activity Assistant

“It has been wonderful to see Michael’s involvement in sessions develop through the residency. In addition to singing, he particularly enjoys playing percussion and improvising new rhythms during our activities. With his daughter leading on Agogo bell and Michael on drum, they have become an integral part of the samba drumming group we have been developing at Newcross.”
Ruth Hopkins – LMN Musician

With thanks to Attend, Friends of Newcross and all the staff at Newcross care home


*Between January and November 2018 two Live Music Now musicians (Ruth Hopkins and Tymek Jozwiak of K’antu Ensemble) delivered a series of 20 participatory music sessions at Newcross Care Home in Wolverhampton.

The sessions include performances by the musicians and opportunities for residents to join in through singing, playing percussion instruments, dancing, reminiscing and requesting songs. Staff at the care home have also benefitted from embedded training to develop their understanding of the use of music beyond entertainment, and their confidence in leading musical activities.

Supported by The Big Lottery Fund.