Over the past few months Emma Richards, a Speech and Language Therapist who set up the Bath Aphasia Choir, has been hard at work in South Gloucestershire setting up a new aphasia choir as part of her new role at Sirona Care and Health. The choir has been running since October 2019 and is led by Music Therapy students from UWE Bristol and a Speech and Language Therapy student from Plymouth Marjon University.
Anna, the SLT student, reports on the first few sessions:
8th October 2019
The big day has arrived! After weeks of anticipation the South Glos Aphasia choir has begun. Doors opened to welcome a small but perfectly formed choir. Music therapy students impressed with a range of instruments to accompany the choir and we began by singing some well known favourites ‘You are my sunshine’ and ‘Edelweiss’. The choir was asked to compile a list of songs to learn over the next few weeks and we already have some corkers! Watch this space as the choir grows.
15th October 2019
It was lovely to see two new faces today as we welcomed more members to the choir. Today we began to learn some Irish tunes requested by one our our members. Foot tapping and knee slapping ensued as we relived the sessions of Irish pub singalongs with ‘The Irish Rover’ and ‘Danny Boy’.
The choir really got into the swing of it as one of our members taught us actions to ‘Sweet Chariot’, which brought back fond memories for some of our members.
22nd October 2019
Irish week at South Glos aphasia choir. Inspired by one of our members we sang renditions of some well loved Irish tunes accompanied by the accordion. One of our members used to play the accordion and had a collaborative jam with our SLT student as she tried the accordion out for the first time. It was great to see the talent of our choir members and learn more about their musical stories.
5th November 2019
Today marked our first celebration for a choir member’s birthday and we also sang Happy Birthday to Emma who celebrated her birthday the day before. We made our first recording of ‘Edelweiss’ to send to the Bath Aphasia Choir and strengthen the link between the two choirs.
One of our members brought in a real Edelweiss, carefully pressed in an old passport since 1956 and in beautiful condition. The story behind the Edelweiss was a wonder to hear.
12th November 2019
We had a full house today and it was great to see some new faces as the choir continues to grow. One of our members brought in another beautiful Edelweiss, in the shape of a broach which she was given in 1950’s and has since treasured. This led to choir members sharing stories of spotting Edelweiss in the fresh snow-covered mountains of Austria “peeping out of the snow as the first signs of spring” as one member poetically recalled.
Today we introduced a visiting speech and language therapy student to the brilliance of Cliff Richard’s ‘The Young Ones’, sang with some knee slapping and ukulele solo.
Instruments were handed out for a rendition of Greensleeves (a request by one of our members) and the choir played along to a trio of musicians made up of music therapy and speech and language therapy students.
With the cold wind came talk of Christmas songs and a list of of old favourites to learn in the run up to the festive season.