PMZ have run music workshops at Devonport Views, an extra care housing scheme, for many years.  Throughout 2023-2024, music leader Rob Tilsley was joined by University of Plymouth music student, Millie McCabe, as part of PMZ and the Uni’s ‘Knowledge Exchange‘ programme.  Here is the third of four blogs shared by Millie, sharing her experience of working with PMZ.

I’ve got the Blues,

I’ve got the Devonport Views Blues.

I feel it from my head to my shoes,

I just don’t know what to do.

I’ve got the Devonport Views Blues.

 

Each session starts the same, the familiarity of the 12-bar blues kicks in and the smiles and laughter begins for many of the residents who regularly attend this session at Devonport Views, which is an extra care housing scheme for older people and disabled adults in Plymouth. Not all the residents came from musical walks of life, but despite this they all enjoy the weekly sessions which incorporate lots of singing and even some musical instruments.

The sessions allow residents to choose a song, any song from any genre in any key and style, to sing and play along to. With many choosing their favourite songs from childhood, or bands they love and realising they still know all the words! Rob leads the sing-along with his trusty guitar and knowledge of what seems to be every song, although there are sometimes songs that stump us. Backing up Rob is myself on keys and some of the regular attendees who are proficient in instruments including ‘D’ on the snare drum holding us tightly to the temp, and ‘N’ on electric guitar helping to carry the melody and the solo sections. Other residents also find themselves playing drums, shakers, xylophones and most importantly singing with great enthusiasm. Each resident gets a turn to choose their song, accompanied by everyone else’s merry attitudes, some weeks Rob brings microphones, and everyone gets to live out their popstar dreams.

PMZ participant, Delcie, sat playing a piano
PMZ participant, Delcie, at Devonport Views

After attending Baton Beats in my first year at the university, I leapt at the opportunity to get involved at Devonport Views, however I was not entirely sure what I signed up for. I can say however that I enjoyed every second of each session I was able to attend, and I learnt a lot. Not only did my song knowledge expand each week, but I got to know many of the regulars well and spend time chatting to them hearing about their lives and experiences. Many of them shared wisdom and kind words about the future with me, and I will carry them through the rest of my life. It was also incredible to see that residents who were musical before coming to Devonport Views were able to keep this up, with many of them having their own instruments and even a recording set up in their rooms.  This means that they can continue making and enjoying music, and even at times with each other, which I think is amazing and something PMZ has encouraged in their time at Devonport Views but another virtue that I will carry with me. This solidifies to myself and many others that you can be at any stage in your life to enjoy music.