Twelve University of Canberra students completing a Masters of Occupational Therapy engaged in a set of three Music Outreach sessions facilitated by staff of the Australian National University’s Music Engagement Program. Alison Wicks, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Canberra, invited Georgia Pike (Convenor of the Music Engagement Program) to give an initial guest lecture on care facility music outreach. The students were then offered an opportunity to engage in a set of three music outreaches at three different care facilities. Twenty students of the cohort of thirty applied for the thirteen allocated places. Students visited the School of Music for a preparatory session, where they sang a range of songs and were trained in the basic approach to music outreach of the Music Engagement Program.
Over three Tuesdays (March 18th, March 25th, and April 1st) the students visited Moreshead Home, Kalparrin Home and Eabrai Lodge respectively. A simple evaluation was completed by each of the 12 students who engaged in the program. Here are some selected comments from the students:
What was the best part of this experience and why?
- “I thought music really helped me to communicate and build rapport with elderly people.”
- “It was fun for us and it was really nice to see that the residents enjoyed it so much.”
- “It does build confidence. It makes you feel good to bring such joy to people by doing something so simple.”
- “To see how much the residents enjoyed it & to see less confident students grow more confident.”
What could have been included or done differently?
- “Some elderly people (not with dementia) told me that they can’t sing because they don’t know the words… It’s maybe nice to give people an option to have it so that they can engage with us more?”
- “Perhaps not wearing the uniforms or only wearing the name badge to make things more personal.”
- “Maybe changed layout so that everyone is included and no one is shoved in the back (more up to the aged care facility than the program).”
Nine out of the twelve students felt an increase in confidence for music making and/or engaging with the elderly, with three students remaining at the same levels for both. When asked how much they would recommend the session to others out of 5 (5 being highly recommend), the average score came to 4.6 out of 5. The full anonymous evaluation data is available from the Music Engagement Program on request.