“There is something special that happens when we sing together, an indescribable sense of belonging that can transform how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. This project reminded us all about this shared feeling, whether 10 years old or 90+, through music we can appreciate and be part of a shared identity, heritage and culture. Creative Ireland support towards this project enabled us to capture moments in time, moments where music brought two generations together where we could reflect on the past and dream for the future” – Shauna McCullough, Music Development Officer, Music Generation Waterford
In 2021 Waterford Libraries and Music Generation Waterford worked together to create a very special Intergenerational music project with the Bealtaine Choir and pupils at Kilmacthomas National School. Funded by Creative Ireland the project, documented the process of using music and song to share stories, express feelings and explore mutual connections within the community, while enabling a positive ageing and mental wellbeing initiative for older people. Singing together created the opportunity for both children and older adults to appreciate and learn about their shared identity, heritage and culture.
The project brought together the Bealtaine Choir of older singers (aged in their 70s, 80s and 90s) and the 1st/2nd class pupils at Kilmacthomas National School. It was facilitated through musically driven activities that nurture and promote greater understanding, respect and learning across both generations taking account of Covid-19 public health guidance in the community.
Singing, as one aspect of music, combines language, music and instinctive human behaviour. This combination created the opportunity for both children and older adults to appreciate and learn about their shared identity, heritage and culture. The repertoire was established by exploring and comparing both groups’ individual experiences of music and song both now and in the past. Both groups participated in a range of creative mediums as a means of gathering and illustrating their involvement and contribution to the project.
The Intergenerational Music project which started in the 3rd lockdown over WhatsApp group, engaged the Bealtaine Choir and 1st / 2nd Class of Kilmacthomas National School in mutually beneficial singing activities as well as a social exchange. Lead musicians Anne Woodworth, Fiona Flavin and Aileen Lambert engaged with the Bealtaine Choir at first through their existing WhatsApp Group and then in small groups via zoom in preparation for engaging with the children. Library Staff members assisted with the up skilling of the Bealtaine Choir to develop their confidence to engage online.
Bealtaine Choir members recounted and collected Social History of childhood song and memory. Considering memories made through music. Waterford based poet and writer Lani O’Hanlon facilitated two creative writing sessions with the Bealtaine Choir. Lani is editing a book of writing from the Bealtaine Choir and the children. The book will include this collection and will be published as an eBook on the Library’s website in early 2022. In addition a collection of photographs and participants’ written social history pieces will be published as a short physical book – bringing the project into the heart of the Waterford community.
This project, with the expertise of the facilitators Anne Woodworth, retired Director of the School of Music WIT and Fiona Flavin, performer and music educator with extensive experience of working with both children and older adults through the ‘Singing for the Brain’ programme and Aileen Lambert an artist whose practice spans video, performance and sound work, as well as participatory public art projects will leave a legacy piece and explore models of good practice that can be replicated. All facilitators are passionate about the power singing can have on our wellbeing no matter our age. The project was delivered using initially online and then in person and on location in Kilmacthomas National School.
Waterford Libraries, Music Generation Waterford, Bealtaine Choir, Kilmacthomas National School, Waterford Creativity Team, the Age Friendly Programme Manager and Healthy Waterford Officer.