For the first time after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have finally managed to get back to working with the wonderful residents at Devonport Views, just down the road from us here at PMZ. We’d worked for many years at the setting until the pandemic put a stop to everything. It’s taken a while to set it up again, but my goodness are we feeling the love and musical connection now it’s back!

Devonport Views are part of Livewest housing association and located very close to us here at PMZ’s building. We have missed them very much and over the moon to be back making music together.

Rob Tilsley is now running the sessions and today he took our PMZ electronic drum kit with him. He said that “the residents literally had a blast on it – they really took to it.”

Here’s a photo of one of the residents, Delcie with her friend June in the lounge today. Long-term PMZ friends will know Delcie well and she has been a long-term ambassador for improving lives through music for people of all ages. After all, she and her family’s lives were built around music making in many different ways and she’s always been immersed in it.

It’s important to say that although it’s gorgeous, we don’t think the photo doesn’t do justice to the energy of the moment because it was so immensely wonderful. We hope to share some videos / recordings with you at some point soon to try and give a better sense of what’s going on!

Some more of the context from today from Rob:

“Mr N loves blues music, so he loved improvising along on the Guitar with me supporting him on the kit. He’s a really good guitarist and was making up a ‘Devonport Views Blues’ on the spot including a solo, which everyone loved.

Then there’s June who loves exploring percussion instruments. This is to the point where she has playfully tried to wear the instruments like earrings! This gesture is starting to become a bit of a running joke each week!

June told us that she has wanted to try playing the drum kit her entire life. She never got the chance, but today she actually DID THIS for real for the first time EVER in all her years!!!

It was really a massive privilege – just being able to take the drum kit to June and set things up so this could happen. To start with she was cautiously tapping it, then Delcie said ‘give it some wellie’ – then she picked up. She just had this look of pure joy on her face when she looked to Delcie and her expression was like there was literally nothing else happening in the world – She had finally just done this thing she’d always wanted to do. It was such a nice thing to see. She was so supportive of what Delcie was doing too and the sharing of that moment together was wonderful.

Delcie just exudes music. She got this groove going, making up a ditty and singing on top and just took everyone with her on the percussion instruments as well.

I added in some ‘vintage’ guitar on top that referenced a familiar song (Be My Baby). She was jamming along to that, and everyone supported on percussion. It was truly joyful – a theme for a while now that we are noticing across our workshops. It was raucous, full of beans and oomph and they gave it 110%. It certainly challenged preconceptions about sleepy residential settings! – This afternoon was definitely not in any way a sleepy living room.

The activities coordinator is even looking into whether it might be possible for the residents to have an electronic drum kit of their own! Wouldn’t that be amazing?”

Anna (Creativity & Learning Director) had previous been music leading at the residential setting for many years and was unable to say goodbye to the residents when the pandemic caused all the direct delivery of sessions to stop in 2020. She is so happy that Rob Tilsley is able to take the residents there on new musical adventures together as well as the inevitable conversations that may come up about astronomy alongside! Anna said:

“It’s absolutely beautiful to hear Rob’s stories of connecting with the wonderful residents, some of whom came along to the original group, but now others with all these different musical skills. Rob’s stories fill me with hope and delight hearing about how open the residents are to exploring instruments as well as singing and expressing themselves in so many joyful ways.

Rob is just brilliant at making space for people to get to know themselves differently in a music workshop. I can’t wait to pop in and say hello soon!”