SONGHAVEN CONCERT SERIES:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What makes the Songhaven concert series “dementia-friendly”?
People living with dementia and family carers have told us about that attending a night-time music event with a long running time at a busy venue can be a real challenge… or out of the question entirely. As a result, they miss out on the enjoyment of professional music events (as well as the proven health and well-being benefits that come with arts engagement and social interaction). We listened carefully to their experiences, and put their needs at the centre of our Songhaven concert model.
Songhaven concerts typically take place during the afternoon and feature high-quality music-making from classically-trained artists in a relaxed atmosphere of kindness. The manageable 45 minute programme always includes operatic arias and duets, classical tunes, as well as familiar repertoire from stage and screen, and our printed concert programmes are clear, large-print documents that are easy to follow.
Our concerts are overseen by a professional event producer ensuring for a smooth-running event with a consistently relaxed and easy atmosphere. Attendees are welcomed warmly by an experienced team of volunteers – including care professionals and people with backgrounds in social work. Every effort is made to ensure that audience members feel comfortable, understood, and valued.
Songhaven artists address the audience in a friendly and casual way, clearly introducing each piece of music they perform, and encouraging attendees to respond to the music. Singing along and moving to the music are warmly welcomed and never viewed as disruptions.
All Songhaven concerts finish with a singalong item, where audience members can join in with the professional artists to sing a well-known song together (always an uplifting and joyous experience!) Tea & biscuits afterwards provides a relaxed and social opportunity for performers and audience members to mingle, and chat about their favourite music. We also take note of any song requests to include in our future concert programmes.
How often are the public concerts?
Typically, Songhaven’s live public concert series takes place on a Saturday afternoon once a month in Bloomsbury and also once a month in Knightsbridge.
How long are the concerts?
The musical performances usually run for 45 minutes, and are followed by afternoon tea.
If I do not have a diagnosis of dementia, am I still allowed to attend?
Songhaven concerts are dementia-friendly but not “dementia exclusive”. We warmly welcome everyone to our events, as long as they will support the atmosphere of kindness and understanding we create for our audience members who do show symptoms of dementia. Whilst children are welcome especially if attending as part of a family with a relative living with dementia, we ask that people understand that the repertoire and style of the concerts are tailored towards an older audience. We can gladly recommend some other relaxed music events that would perhaps be more appropriate for mums and bubs, or groups of children.
Are wheelchair users able to attend?
Yes, please let us know at the time of booking how many wheelchair spaces are required. We recommend arriving in good time before the concert, as we may need to the spaces set aside for wheelchairs if the attendee has not turned up by the time the concert begins
Can you look after my family member and/or arrange transport for them?
Songhaven is a public concert series and whilst our volunteers will actively help to make attendees comfortable, we cannot take responsibility for any one audience member or make individual transport arrangements. Please ensure that any person living with dementia is brought along by a companion, family member or carer to provide this extra support.
How can I be reminded about the upcoming concerts?
Join our mailing list to receive concert announcements and booking information via our email newsletter. You can also see our listing in the Camden Magazine, in Resonate Arts online listings, or you can speak to us in person at one of our concerts about being sent a hard copy postcard reminder in the mail.
Why do I need to book to attend a concert, can’t I just turn up on the day?
Booking is essential so we can prepare the right amount of printed concert programmes and food for the afternoon tea and allocate an appropriate number of volunteer helpers. We are a not-for-profit organisation, and want to make the best use of our resources, and minimise any wastage. Pre-booking is the best way we can ensure a smooth-running event for our team and audience members alike!
Can I apply to perform at Songhaven?
We currently have a full rota of singers and pianists, but we would still love to hear from you – please email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I apply to be a volunteer concert steward at Songhaven?
Volunteers can sign up to our Volunteer email list here – at the concert event you would be paired up with an experienced volunteer to learn the ropes.
“Everyone in London who is caring for someone with dementia should know about Songhaven. The dementia-friendly concerts are extraordinarily well-judged and enormously enjoyable, joyful and uplifting” – Songhaven audience member
“one of the most lovely events I think I have ever been to” Songhaven audience member
“One of the thingsI love about Songhaven is how stress free it feels! It’s a joy to prepare, to rehearse, and especially to perform” Songhaven artist
“It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a concert so much” Songhaven audience member
“we have just been entertained today by the lovely voices of Monica McGhee & Paul Sheehan, and the brilliant pianist Chad Vindin – we cannot believe how fantastic they were! Thank you all so very much” Songhaven audience member
“Thank you so much for lifting our hearts and minds with your brilliant performances and warm welcome” Songhaven audience member
“Through volunteering, I have made friends with other volunteers and attendees. The concerts are well programmed with such wonderful professional singers and musicians. As a volunteer, it does my heart good to see that the concerts are well attended. Seeing entire families giving support to their affected family member and enjoying the concert is such a beautiful experience” Songhaven Volunteer
“My partner responds to music with his whole body and soul, so its wonderful to be in a space where his responses are welcomed and understood as appreciation and expressions of joy.” Songhaven audience member
“This is one of the few remaining activities we can take my father to that he actually enjoys and benefits from coming to and where we can feel relaxed. A favourite happy (and sad) moment was when we all sang Climb Ev’ry Mountain – a song Dad and I used to sing together.” Songhaven audience member
“I loved performing with Songhaven: the atmosphere was so relaxed, and I felt like the audience were really included in the experience. It was lovely chatting to them afterwards and it was clear that they enjoyed the opportunity to hear familiar music live, to interact with the performers, to have a sense of community, and to feel that they were specifically catered for and cared for.” Songhaven artist
“What a wonderful event! Very professionally run and with so much empathy and compassion for the guests. It made me feel quite emotional to see the joy in the faces of the audience and the engagement with the music and the artists. It felt good to be a part of the team bringing this little piece of magic to their lives.” Songhaven Volunteer
“it was so much fun! And we were very well looked after” Songhaven artist
[the event] “leaves us buzzing, feeling part of a community, and not isolated with the exhausting complexity of the impact of Alzheimer’s on us as individuals and as a family” Songhaven audience member
“I always feel very well prepared and briefed for these concerts. Brilliant organisation on the day too” Songhaven artist
“Blissful singing. Thank you” Songhaven Volunteer
“We were transported to a care free space where enchanting voices led us to exquisite fragrances in lush gardens under the moonlight. Bliss” Songhaven audience member
“You’ve brought some real joy and fun into our lives” Songhaven audience member
“a beautiful and entertaining afternoon” Songhaven audience member
“I loved every minute of it.” Songhaven audience member
“When I sing here, I can give the best of myself… It’s a very satisfying experience, not just musically, but personally. That sense of connection, of people being uninhibited in their enjoyment and appreciation of us and our art.” Songhaven artist
“Fabulous quality… vivacious… such beautiful voices” Songhaven audience member
“What I like so much is the chance to hear superb musicians. What a treat to hear excerpts from opera!” Songhaven audience member
“The thing that struck me the most was just how attentive the audience was – I felt such a strong connection… as performers we were really able to communicate. The reaction we received after the recital was also incredible, and I was genuinely touched at how appreciative everyone was… It was also really nice to know that they are clearly a community and regularly attend these recitals” Songhaven artist
“It was all very welcoming, everything explained in the introductions. Lots of favourites” Songhaven audience member
“Brilliant – so friendly and the beauty of the voices and the selection.” Songhaven audience member
“It is wonderful and humbling to know what a difference we can all make – tea-makers and servers and singers alike, and how lovely that people take the time to express their appreciation. I look forward to the next one.” Songhaven volunteer
“The audience was lovely… it was one of those gigs that warms your heart” Songhaven artist
“I loved the operatic bits. I don’t get to go [to the opera] as much as I’d like to, so this was perfect for me.” Songhaven audience member
“I enjoyed talking to the audience like friends, rather than an ‘audience.’ This concert felt like we could have been in a living room, it was just so relaxed.” Songhaven artist
“Beautiful and very professional” Songhaven audience member
“The warmth and willingness of the audience to hear what we had to sing and to say about the music made it an utter privilege and pleasure to be involved. There was a sense that everybody was there to receive our performance together, collectively creating a community atmosphere that had been built through regular visits to Songhaven’s concerts. What was also noticeable was the way that as an artist you can develop your own way to adapt your learned performance conventions to connect in such a deep way with the Songhaven audience, and I ended my first concert feeling that I had as much to learn from the audience as I had to offer them in return.” Songhaven artist
“Beautiful and very inclusive, especially when they got everyone singing.” Songhaven audience member
“Singing is wonderful- even when the short-term memories are gone, you can still remember words from 40 years ago!” Songhaven audience member
“People come alive here… it’s a privilege” Songhaven audience member
“It was so much fun and everything ran really smoothly” Songhaven artist
“We come feeling stressed, we leave feeling relaxed” Songhaven audience member (family carer)
“It made me smile and cry, very emotional… a wonderful atmosphere.” Songhaven audience member
“The way they performed was superb.” Songhaven audience member
from a carer… [her] “condition has improved, in the sense that not only she recalls…but also she actually asks me when the next concert is taking place. We go over the songs, we sing together and she feels so happy that she has become part of Songhaven” Songhaven audience member
“A daughter spoke [to me] with emotion about the look in her Dad’s eye when he recognises a song, the way he raises his head and vocalises. She spoke about similarly billed events in London that “get it wrong” (her words) and the difference in programming and atmosphere. She says that this is the only concert series she can now bring Dad to, other venues having made it clear the point at which Dad was no longer welcome” Songhaven artist
“impeccable standard of performance in an atmosphere of relaxed generosity, inclusivity and love.” Songhaven audience member
“Performing at Songhaven is an opportunity to develop a subtler alertness to signals from individuals. The licence granted to the audience to relax and respond without inhibition also frees the performer to sense and explore. This is a very lovely thing and often leads me to look for repertoire that I wouldn’t normally have much call for but which is really appropriate here.” Songhaven artist
“thank you so much for organising such an amazing concert at St Paul’s on Saturday. The venue and the artists were fantastic. Afternoon tea was outstanding and how wonderful that it was all produced and served by the church congregation!” Songhaven audience member
“I loved it! I left feeling so good and It was such a lovely atmosphere” Songhaven artist
“it’s an amazing acoustic. And the volunteers were all so welcoming.” Songhaven audience member
“I was so grateful for your singer coming over and singing the second verse of I Could Have Danced All Night to Mum – seeing how captivated and engaged she was in that moment, was lovely; and will stay with me.” Songhaven audience member
“Two of my service users [a person with dementia and their carer] attended your concert on 12th January and were full of praise for the experience, so thank you!” Alzheimer’s Society Support Worker
“I was so pleased to hear you sing and must say your voice is amazing” Songhaven audience member
“the ladies and gentlemen from the church arranged a wonderful tea” Songhaven audience member
“I have attended 3 Songhaven concerts at St Paul’s Knightsbridge and always look forward to the next one. There is a great range of music from classical to fun – something to suit everyone. The performers appear to enjoy it as much as the audience and I love the way that they chat with us after their performance. I have met a lady with quite severe dementia and it is so nice to see her tapping her hands in time to the music and enjoying herself, she loves the concerts. What can I say about afternoon tea?… nothing seems too much trouble for the volunteers. The food is amazing and it arrives with a smile. It is a real treat!” Songhaven audience member
“Warm, uplifting atmosphere and music, very accepting and encouraging – joyous!” Songhaven audience member
“I’ve met lovely people… everyone enjoys it!” Songhaven audience member
“One of the few events we can still attend and be welcome – great day out for my 96 year old Grandma.” Songhaven audience member
“Absolutely LOVE these concerts – a real highlight of the month” Songhaven audience member
“Friendly, welcoming atmosphere… Perfect!” Songhaven audience member
[Songhaven concerts are] “A welcome relief, reducing stress and giving me time to sit down and feel transported.” Songhaven audience member
“Thank you so much – it’s a wonderful event – relaxing, warm, friendly… a very happy atmosphere with wonderful singing and music.” Songhaven audience member