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Acorn Shed Music: Participatory Song-writing Toolkit

Acorn Shed Music is an arts organisation and was established by Pauline Walmsley and Carol Beckwith in East Dunbartonshire. They set out with the aim of finding ways to use group song-writing to explore difficult conversations.

Pauline, a former unpaid carer for her mother who had dementia, and her friend Carol both had an interest in music and knew about the therapeutic benefits of song writing. Working with carers, former carers, songwriters, along with other musicians, they produced a five song CD entitled ‘This Rain’ in 2019. This is accompanied by a short video showing how the songs were created. 

The project aimed to demonstrate how storytelling and song writing can provide positive support for those caring for loved ones with dementia. Pauline and Carol say that the project made it possible to have open conversations about issues that might have otherwise been difficult to express, exploring questions such as ‘what’s it like to be a carer?’, ‘what’s it like to have your life turned upside down?' and ‘where do you find support?’

Pauline and Carol released the CD under the banner of Acorn Shed Music, which is an organisation that aims to work towards supporting better health and well-being through storytelling and song writing, especially for those who feel unheard. The CD was launched on the 14th November 2019, along with a short documentary film. Read more about that here.

Carol and Pauline were awarded a second peer-to-peer resource grant to produce a toolkit, to help other unpaid carers who wanted to explore song-writing as a way of expressing their emotional journey through dementia.

The toolkit walks you through ‘This Rain’ and describes what they did when they spent time writing songs with a group of Young Onset Dementia carers from Bridgeton Resource Centre.  

It includes guidance for those who wish to run a similar project, with some ‘prompts’ to get the conversation going.

You can find this resource on their brand new website here

The website also includes some beautiful recordings of some of the songs they have written.