The work Sal does is about replacing the pressure to remember with encouragement to imagine and play.
‘Improvising to mystery ‘ - John Zeisel.
'A bird does not sing because it has an answer it sings because it has a song.' - old Proverb
‘When a man is singing and cannot lift his voice, and another comes and sings with him, another who can lift his voice, the first will be able to lift his voice too. That is the secret of the bond between spirits.’ - Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher
‘A song can be like a boat you tap into it and sail into the music' - Clive Robbins
‘It is precisely through the onset of old age, through loss or personal tragedy, that the spiritual dimension would traditionally come into people’s lives. This is to say, their inner purpose would emerge only as their outer purpose collapsed and the shell of the ego would begin to crack open. The emphasis shifts from doing to Being, and our civilisation, which is lost in doing, knows nothing of Being. It asks: being? What do you do with it?’ - Eckhart Tolle
Click on the links below for more information…
Background and Experience
Sally has been a community artist for over 20 years. She works with stories and music, words and emotions. She connects with people though lively, warm, relaxed and friendly sessions where people’s ears are bathed in the music of language.
Sally is featured Artist in Residence delivering sessions of music and enriched conversation for Care Plus Housing Association across Staffordshire.
She spend over 15 years touring nationally for Persula Foundation, visiting retirement homes, care settings, hospitals and Age UK Tea clubs and spent some of that time focussing on working with people with visual impairment.
She works with AGE UK Shropshire visiting Dementia Café’s and delivering Staff Training as part of the Aviva Sparkle Day programme.
She has worked extensively in health settings in hospitals and directly on wards in Birmingham, Telford, Staffordshire and Sheffield. She is an artist in Residence at the Redwoods Hospital , Shrewsbury and until recently the Stroke Recovery Ward at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
Sal is trainined in delivering TIMESLIPS sessions. A storyteling technique which considers dementia specifically and those affected by it. How to tell and work with stories, with people whose ability to sequence and order is impaired.
She was a lead artist on Telford and Wrekin Council’s Arts and Dementia strategy; holding story and song group sessions in a sheltered housing based Dementia Drop In café and at the Princess Royal Hospital. She leads musical memory sessions at Dementia Cafes across the county and beyond.
She has been a lead artist for Creative Health’s Living Room residencies in an extended project in Wolverhampton and also for Care Plus working in 5 of their settings.
She leads sessions and contributes to conferences and training sessions for care staff.
- When sharing music, story and memory.Singing provides activity which is familiar. There is awareness of accomplishment when intellectual activity has become the way to failure, frustration and loss of control.
Singing uses muscles and awakens use of muscles. It improves posture as we raise up our body to articulate and breathe. Respiratory capacity is used : oxygenation of blood leads to an improved mood.
Decreased muscle clenched in jaws and neck as they open to allow the voice to pass through. The unconscious competence of singing can free up swallowing reflexes and the ability to flow with speech.
Music and song provides experience in a familiar and predictable structure. It gives opportunity for caregivers and receivers to interact creatively and playfully, beyond functionally. Music and song are way to belong when all of life and relationships is fracturing and to tell our stories.
Music may soothe as it evokes memories of childhood. Singing reminds us of tenderness and care. Can we used during care, washing, changing, physical examinations and moving from one space to another to lessen agitation.
Oliver Sacks wrote, ‘It is the inner life of music which can still make contact with their inner lives which can awaken the hidden, seemingly extinguished soul; and evoke a wholly personal response of memory, associations, feelings, images, a return of thought and sensibility, an answering identity.’
Songs for You
- This is an initiative inspired by the Arts for Health team at the Redwoods Hospital in Shrewsbury. Sally is lead artist, holding spaces for singing on wards for people living with dementIa and memory impairment and also out in the community. In addition to occasional pop up singing sessions, there is an ongoing group at the Helena Lane Day Centre in Ludlow.
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Sal is the musician in residence for Housing Plus, a housing association, where she delivers sessions across Staffordshire.
Find out more about the project here!
- For people living with disabilities, stories really come alive when all the senses are involved. Through years of working in Special Schools and extended residencies and exploration with students who have additional needs, Sal can share stories from her ‘Wheely Good Trolley of Tales’
Some of the Stories in Sal’s Sensory Repertoire:
Aiken Drum – a song brought alive with fruits and vegetables
The Enormous Beetroot – a new take on an old favourite with root veg and rootsy choruses to sing with
A monster in a bag – a lucky dip bag with aspects of a monster, from nose to tail. Have a feel what you can find!
The Seal Wife – a traditional tale brought to life with textures, smells and a little water play
The Gingerbread Boy – puppets, smells and percussive rhythms take this story well and truly off the page
The Path to the Witches Cottage –shadowy and crunchy forest floor textures, rattling jars of potions and flaring magic wands inspire imaginative role play and spooky narratives.
…….new themes, ideas, topics and commissions always in development and welcomed!
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Music in Hospitals
- Trained in offering music in Hospital settings, Sally has completed a Residency on the Stroke Recovery Ward at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital of songs and memories.
- 'Wonderful should happen daily',
- ' I enjoyed it all very much I think it did all that attended a lot of good, we all joined in, just wish it had gone on longer'
- 'I felt vitalised and excited'
Music in Hospitals Concerts Programme
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Arts in Health Commissions
- Sally has delivered many ongoing projects exploring ways in which Verbal Arts, music and storytelling can make meaning and bring people together in Sheltered Housing, hospital, care home and community settings.
Royal Shrewsbury HospitalIn a writing commission from Creative Health, Sally assembled fragments of words and phrases responding to 2 different Shropshire landscapes to make word boards to accompany digital images which illuminate and animate long corridors deep within Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
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I’m on the PhoneA commission with a private care home provider and Creative Health CIC Sally created a portable sound sculpture through which clients could access songs, music memories and stories.
We made stories and recorded songs in sessions and the content was uploaded onto a phone which Sally modified specially.
These fragments were storyboarded and pieced together in a studio – like sewing together a patchwork quilt of sounds, fragments of talk, snippets of song.
The phone is battery powered and so totally portable, when the handset is lifted, that triggers playback of the sound sculpture. The phone is familiar and evokes memories in users and inspires delightful conversation between people!Listen to soundtrack from the phone here.00:00/00:00
This project model is available to repeat, to make new content and re-work!
Email me for further discussion.
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The Time of our Lives!In a commission with Bradwell Hall Care Home in Newcastle Under Lyme , Sally held weekly sessions in which we created a repertoire of songs which told our story and celebrated the group. No matter how small the fragments, Sal gathered them and curated a Musical Review.
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We also wrote poetry.
2 October 2015.
Cats look beautiful, so do lions and tigers.
The shape and scent of a pink rose; indeed any flower
Round, fat and curly chrysanthemums.
The smell of freshly baked cakes and bread
Or meat, especially chops, cooking for your dinner!
The sound of birds in the morning
And the smell of freshly laundered washing that’s been dried on the line.
The sparkle of a diamond.
Being in love.
A box or a bar of chocolate…any sort…it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s chocolate!
The anticipation of an apple or pear fresh from a tree
The juice of a ripe peach running down your chin.
A fluffy white skunk.
FORGET ME NOTS
The coloured butterflies and even the white ones; the way they move and fly,
A beetle with all their fluorescence. Dragon flies with blues and greens.
Sunshines and sunsets.
Oranges in January.
The Alphabet of LifeInspired by Perry Como’s recording. 'A' You're Adorable" is a popular song with music by Sid Lippman and lyrics by Buddy Kaye and Fred Wise, published in 1948.
A - Action – but only certain types
B - Beauty
C - Christmas – Mary’s had 98!
D - Do your duty
E - Excitement
F - Feelings and friendship are important
G - Gloriousness and goodness
H - Happiness at Home
I - Independence
J - Jokes and jollity
K - Kindness
L - Love
M - Merriment
N - Nosey and naughty – but only a bit
O - Only love one person
P - Prosperity
Q - Quietness
R - Roguishness
S - Sweetness, sugar, keeping a secret, sociability, scruffiness, smartness, summer, silliness…soppiness
T - ThankfulnesS
U - Understanding
V - Vanity is a bad thing. Also knowing when it’s time to vanish!
W - Worthiness. Wishing. Wickedness. Wisdom and getting wobbly from time to time!
X - Sign your name with an x. X rays of which we’ve all have a few!
Y - Youthfulness. Yumminess and yesterday…..
Z - zzzzzz…. A good night’s sleep is important and can help make things better!
The resulting Musical Review was performed by the Artist with assistance from residents and invited guests, families and staff. It was an entertaining afternoon tea, which was had both soothing and fun loving songs, celebrating the people we are and what life has taught us.
Diamond Drop-in Dementia Cafes
- In a project initially funded by Telford and Wrekin Council’s Dementia Arts Strategy and I was hired as a lead artist to run one of 6 pilot projects in the community. The Drop in for people living with dementia and their carers was facilitated by Wrekin Housing Trust and staffed by Age Uk volunteers. I was originally contracted to run 6 sessions.
I worked through storytelling, storymaking, (incorporating some of the Timeslips technique as championed by Dr Anne Basting at Univesity of Wisconsin) music, singing and chair dancing to improvise and create hour long sessions led and directed by people with dementia.
The initial funding from the council finished and the users felt such joy and benefit from the work that they voted to purchase my services themselves. I continue to visit this setting and maintain friendships there.
Age Uk Shropshire Telford and Wrekin are actively fundraising to roll out these workshops that I lead in their other Dementia Drop Ins across Shropshire.
The basic premise of my work has been to replace the pressure to remember with encouragement to imagine. This is a new twist on my work as a storyteller which often takes memory, sequencing and recall as assumed givens in a session. This project has enriched and expanded my own artistic practise. It is
What has been observed in the work:
• Group energy
• New idea to try at home after the session
• Creative, imaginative conversations in couples – not just functional talk
• Enriched conversations
My intention is to:
• inspire people living with dementia to hone and share the gifts of their imaginations.
• inspire others to see beyond the loss and to recognise the strengths of people with dementia.
• improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their care partners.