Music Kin shares the power of music

Music Kin is a not-for-profit company with an aim to create exceptional musical experiences throughout the local community with many health and well-being benefits.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 7:27 pm

Anna is the co-director of the Inishowen Gospel Choir, a singer-songwriter and part time Development Officer for Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company.

Victoria is from Omagh and has been singing in choirs for most of her life. After graduating from a French and Spanish degree, Victoria moved to Derry for the first time in 2006. She is a musician, singer and events organiser and “whatever she can lend herself to”.

“Throughout the years myself and Anna have undertaken a lot of music outreach work. Myself largely through an organisation called ‘Live Music Now’,” Victoria said.

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“Through them I performed in nursing homes, care homes, hospices, primary schools, day centres, bringing musical experiences to people who may not ordinarily have access to them; it was great to perform in a variety of contexts that were not just bars and night clubs.

“A big part of Music Kin is music outreach, bringing people together to make music, enjoy music, share music, play with music and perform music in a variety of contexts.”

As part of Music Kin’s work Anna was recently hosted by the Women’s Centre in Derry to give a talk to students studying an ‘OCN Award in supporting people living with Dementia’, about the benefits of using singing as a tool for wellbeing for people diagnosed with Dementia. She has also delivered this training to several carers.

“Music Kin was set up to create positive change in the community through the power of music” said Anna. “It’s not just about the singing, it is about the social element, the endorphins and positive mental effect it has on you just to sing. Singing is good for so many things, it’s good for your health, your posture, your lungs and just making music in all forms is so good for cognitive functions.

“Working for Echo Echo I have witnessed the incredible work they do enhancing the lives of people throughout the community with dance and movement participation and performance programmes, working with people who have special needs, people with disabilities, older and younger people from all walks of life. There are so many musicians living here that are good at doing this type of work too, Music Kin aims to create more opportunities for them to do it.”

Both Anna and Victoria recently became mothers. The demands of gigging unsociable hours and travelling isn’t feasible anymore, but through Music Kin they can still utilise their musical abilities to support those who can benefit from having music in their lives.

“Music is the manipulation of sounds,” said Victoria. ”It is such an open thing. It’s really inclusive and that’s a keyword in what we do.

“I am also a person with a registered disability since birth, I have a visual impairment. I have worked with groups, old and young, with different impairments, different special needs, different ways in which really, they can be excluded from the live music experience, be it making music, but also hearing music and participating in music.

“Participatory performance is very much key to what we want to do.

“Music can just be for the fun of it, which I think is what Anna and I have grown up with music being.”

Anna recently received a Cultural Practitioner Award from Derry City and Strabane District Council to study the benefits of singing for older people, particularly those with dementia.

This has led to Music Kin undertaking a project with DEEDS (Dementia Engaged Empowered Derry Strabane) where Anna leads a singing workshop on Monday mornings. She also leads a singing group on Wednesday mornings for Older People North West.

“At DEEDS there is an 81 year old man who attends and tells me every week when he leaves that ‘I would not miss this for the world’,” said Anna. “That makes my heart go, it means so much to me. Singing is so good for people diagnosed with Dementia, the act of making music fires so many parts of your brain together.

“There’s the emotive side, the cognitive, motor skills, memory, all of these things are so good for people who may have neural pathways severed. For those caring for people with dementia, singing is also a great way of reconnecting with them. You often find that people in later stages of dementia, who have maybe lost the ability to communicate so well, will still be able to sing songs and remember all the words, although they may not be able to have a conversation with you. I think that’s why me and Victoria are in it really, to see this sort of positive change.” For more information, please send a message on Music Kins Facebook Page

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