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.
In the winter of 2020 our Raise Your Voice participants, creative team and students from the Royal Academy of Music concocted a kaleidoscope of original music and reminiscence around the themes of love and magical potions in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore. This video, with the help of Glyndebourne’s technical wizardry and support, captures the process of creating this during Covid. .
"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 take themes from different operas each year, and explore them in many genres of songs, to which we add extracts from the opera. 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, with an hour for singing and the chance to have a drink and biscuits at the beginning and end 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 benefits of singing and music for people living with dementia were beginning to be recognised and although there were already groups in existence, none were using opera as its main focus in Sussex.
The project was designed to be accessible to local people who had dementia as well as their carer, regardless of their knowledge or experience of opera.
Over the years Glyndebourne Education has continued to support the project and whilst the Spring, Summer and Autumn sessions take place in the community, the Winter project is based at Glyndebourne.
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