Transforming Communities

Singers visit Mull as part of Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival

Claire Hastings and Robyn Stapleton


Traditional singer Robyn Stapleton used to work as a carer for people with dementia. Now, the winner of 2014's BBC Radio Scotland's Young Traditional Musician of the Year award is using her experience to show how beneficial music and singing can be for people living with dementia.

"As a singer of traditional music, I particularly enjoy performing to the older generations because they often have a strong connection with the older Scottish songs. Through my work as a carer in a home for the elderly and as a performer with Live Music Now Scotland, I have got to know many people with dementia. I have seen how much music and song can improve a person's quality of life, helping people to express themselves and bringing back their memories."

"I remember one lady from when I worked in the care home. She was in the advanced stages of dementia; she couldn't leave her bed and would often get distressed. When she got upset, myself and the other staff would sing her favourite hymn and within a few seconds, she began singing with us, in the most beautiful high voice, and she would be smiling again."

Earlier this year Live Music Now Scotland contacted Robyn and folk singer Claire Hastings, to ask if they would like to be involved in Time for Traditional Tunes, a programme of concerts for a singing group on Mull (Mull Musical Minds). Time for Traditional Tunes is a brand new Live Music Now Scotland initiative which is being supported by Luminate: Scotland's creative ageing festival, and presented as part of this year's festival. Claire and Robyn, both originally from Dumfries and Galloway, met while studying Scots Song at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland four years ago and now perform together as the vocal duo Robyn and Claire.

"I have a close friend living on Mull and have visited her there many times. It's a beautiful island and such a friendly community there, so I was really looking forward to going back and meeting the people at Mull Musical Minds."

The duo have been working with the singing and support group, Mull Musical Minds since September, taking part in good old fashioned sing songs. Mull Musical Minds provides people who are living with dementia, Parkinson's Disease or the after effects of a stroke with the opportunity to meet other people in a similar situation and to enjoy regular social interaction through taking part in a singing group.

Robyn and Claire's singing work with Mull Musical Minds was organised as part of Luminate festival, which runs throughout October, and will finish with a concert open to the public in An Tobar arts centre in Tobermory.







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