Where words fail, music speaks
Raise Your Voice is a music project for vulnerable people living with dementia and their carers, based in the area around Lewes, East Sussex. It is run by two professional musicians, singer Jane Haughton and pianist Nancy Cooley. They are supported by a team of volunteers with a wealth of experience of working with vulnerable adults in social care, as well as in the legal profession.
An extract from the chorus of a Midwinter Night created by Raise Your Voice as part of our 2022 Winter Project "A Midwinter's Night Dream".
Our thanks to Emily Borden for leading the composition workshop.
These two short clips capture a song... by the local South Downs Landscape (Theme pastoral Earth) - our thanks to Sam Glazer for leading the composition workshop. The second video shows a movement and percussion improvisation piece devised in response to "Behold I tell you a mystery" - with thanks to Clare Whistler and our RYV participant Alison who takes the lead.
"The extraordinary beauty of the singing arouses new emotions and gives a whole new meaning to a sometimes, difficult life. As a carer it is wonderful to see the one cared-for so unbelievably happy. Thank you for enhancing both our lives and for helping my wife enjoy life free from stress and anxiety."
What we do
We offer an immersive and very enjoyable experience for participants. The pace is gentle, giving time for reflection, and there are many opportunities for everyone to contribute at whatever level they can. Central to our ethos is the value we place on everyone’s contribution and making space for ideas and voices to be heard.
In every session everybody can sing and explore how to sing expressively, and we also draw on artwork, movement and drama. We explore many different genres of songs and music connecting them through chosen themes. We then shape a narrative through which we explore characters, enriched with personal reflections from the group in their own words which can be combined with music. This broad creative process not only enhances the sensory experience but offers opportunities for wide engagement amongst our participants.
How we do it
We run fortnightly sessions in a light and spacious village hall in Cooksbridge near Lewes and at the Salvation Army Hall in Burgess Hill. The creative music sessions run for an hour and there’s a chance to have a drink and biscuits at the beginning of each session, offering a space where friendships can develop and carers can find mutual support and information about useful services.
Who we are
Jane trained at Trinity College of Music, London. She lived and worked in Italy in her 20s and returned to the UK and enjoyed a solo career and later joined the Royal Opera House Company, Covent Garden. During her time there she retrained as a workshop leader working on many varied projects in the ROH Education department.
Jane has been running community choirs for nearly 20 year as well as running opera and music projects in care homes, prisons, schools. She has been involved with Raise Your Voice for thirteen years. Her passion is to encourage everyone (aged 6- 86) to develop their voice and find joy through their singing and music-making together.
Nancy trained as a concert pianist and enjoys a career performing chamber music, song recitals and solo recitals, coaching and teaching. She set up and worked with children’s choirs for the Excellence Cluster in Hastings, with community choirs in Bexhill, and has co-led music projects in the community in St. Leonards. She has worked a great deal with Glyndebourne Education: joining Jane as pianist with Raise Your Voice over the last six years has been a joy, and a revelation as to what sharing music can re-kindle and spark in the human heart.
A Bit of History
Raise Your Voice was established in 2008 when the Alzheimer's Society and other dementia consultants approached Glyndebourne Education Department with the idea of developing a singing project to support people who had a diagnosis of dementia.
The project grew from being a stand-alone five-week winter project to a regular singing group meeting throughout the year, initially funded by the Alzheimer Society and later fully supported and funded by Glyndebourne Opera as part of their outreach programme.
In 2021 RYV became an independent self-funding charity, maintaining ties with Glyndebourne who kindly offer workshops and performances to the group.
We continue to run four terms of work culminating in a winter Project which brings in other musicians and artists to work with the group.
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