This interview is part of our rapid review project, The New Normal: Delivering Your Services to Older People in 2021.
Live Music Now is a UK wide music initiative, which has been operating for over 40 years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a sister organisation in Scotland. Live Music Now delivers interactive live music sessions in person for older people in residential care settings, community settings such as day centres and libraries, and hospitals – both in clinical settings like dementia specialist wards or stroke specialist wards and also public spaces like waiting areas, foyers and receptions. In all these settings, Live Music Now also aims to have an impact on the people who visit or work in those settings: staff, the providers, visitors, relatives, friends and family.
All Live Music Now activities are designed to be participatory, but on a spectrum depending on settings and audiences. The underpinning philosophy in their work is nurturing musical care culture, helping people access live music by taking concert hall level music out of the concert hall setting to the community.
We spoke to Douglas Noble from Live Music Now in November 2020 to learn more about how they have adjusted their services during lockdown.
How has lockdown changed things for Live Music Now?
Live Music Now delivered their music sessions in person in the different settings prior to the first lockdown in March 2020. Through a dynamic process of learning in the context of a lot of uncertainty, Live Music Now have taken most elements of their work online. They have managed to find ways of delivering services that work for the organisation, the musicians and the various settings. It has not always been easy and has required a lot of trial and development.
Live Music Now has been able to provide a wide and innovative range of music sessions for older people, including:
- Pre-recorded, freely available live music concerts
- Weekly free live music in care sessions on Facebook
- Zoom sessions for existing contacts in care homes
- ‘How to do it’ videos for care professionals about interactive music making
- Music session DVDs for care settings
- Live concerts in a safe socially distanced way in a courtyard or garden setting, or the musicians play outside a care setting and the people inside can join in
- One to one shielding concerts: these are for somebody who is very isolated, could be in a care home or their own home, with a small bubble of support or on their own
Learning in collaboration with care settings
Going from a situation where professional musicians were in care homes delivering activities, to a situation where care home staff access sessions online and support resident engagement in activities has required a lot of consideration. The challenges have included technical issues and a lack of staff confidence to deliver music sessions.
Live Music Now is constantly developing what they are doing as they learn from experience. They are actively engaging with the care settings to better understand their needs but also limitations and challenges. Through their engagement with the venues, Live Music Now have learnt that care homes would like more support around musical interaction and techniques to make the sessions more personal. To address some of these issues Live Music Now have produced webinars to staff to make their sessions as accessible as possible.
Advice for others in similar situations?
Flexibility and communication are key. It is important to work closely with settings and be responsive and open to their needs. This requires lot of work and effort for everyone involved, particularly the care teams and musicians on the ground, but the end result is definitely worth it.
You can find more about Live Music Now and access their library of free pre-recorded live concerts here.
You can read more about our project “The New Normal: Delivering your services to older people in 2021” here.