Soundscapes of our lives: exploring music in film from 1940s to the present

A viewing of a Catalyst episode on music and its restorative role in Aged Care settings (particularly with reference to the therapeutic use of ‘personalised playlists’ in stimulating and supporting aged care residents) kick-started the idea for our 2017 project. It is not news to those in the music making and music teaching game that music is a powerful tool for creating social cohesion. Creating and listening to music is responsible for the release of the “happiness” chemical, oxytocin, in the brain. We firmly believe in the power of music to stimulate the brain and relieve feelings of stress, boredom and isolation, all of which can be felt by individuals living in aged care environments. But the Catalyst viewing also generated some other questions for us:

What are the sound tracks of our students’ lives? In a community orchestra where participants’ ages range from 10 – 50 odd, what is the common ground? And more importantly, when we look to the community around us, what are the songs and musical works with which people connect most profoundly?

 

In 2017, Resonance aims to explore these ideas in a project with Woodend BUPA Aged Care Facility. Taking as our springboard requests from our youngest students to "play some cool songs from movies!”, our goal for 2017 has been to explore the intersections between popular culture and art. Starting with repertoire from 'the golden age of cinema', and working through to works used in contemporary films, we are exploring music that spans the decades of the Aged Care residents and our participants' lives, under the expert tuition of guest artist cellist Zoe Knighton, of the acclaimed Flinders Quartet.  

 

One of the main aims of our project is to afford residents of Woodend Aged Care the opportunity to be involved in seeing the development of a program of works over a number of performances, and to participate in a series of interviews with Resonance students about their experiences of our performances, and about the role of music in their lives more generally. If relevant material is collected from the interviews, with permission, this may be woven into our public performance of the repertoire at a concluding concert.

 

The first performance and set of interviews has been conducted and already the experience has given our students some insight into lives where music was the main form of entertainment at social gatherings, creating significant memories that last a lifetime.  

This project will culminate in a public concert at Mary Maloney theatre, Sacred Heart College, Kyneton on Sunday September 10, 2017.