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Lottery Funded

Busking Together celebration in Leominster

To celebrate one year of Drumming Together in Leominster we took to the streets and played some rhythms. the sun was shining and lots of people stopped to find out what was going on. We were told you could hear the drums right across town – and they sounded good Impressive considering it was improvised on the day! Thanks to all who took part including friends who stopped to give their support, our volunteers who gave out leaflets and to Leominster Town Council for allowing us to use this space

The next session in Leominster on March 28th will be the last one funded by the Big Lottery’s People’s Project. We will be working with the Alzhiemer’s Society to continue providing sessions in the short term, but the future of the Centre is uncertain. A conference will be held at Worcester University on March 21st to discuss Meeting Centres:

I will be attending. Meanwhile I have been spending time in the West Midlands and Wales laying the ground work for introducing Drumming Together in new places and the response is encouraging. Keep reading my blog for news over the coming weeks.

Drumming Together at Corn Square Leominster

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Community drumming: shake, rattle and roll!

After an unpleasant break through illness, Beat It is now back on the road and taking on new projects as well as working on existing ones and looking to the future as the Big Lottery funded People’s Project grant is now in its last phase.

We are pleased to be involved in a new project run by The Courtyard Centre for the Arts in Hereford, ‘Turn the Beat Around’. This project is working with two music practitioners in Herefordshire and aims to:
* allow older people the chance to improve their quality of life by taking part in activities that contribute towards their well-being
* help older people improve their independence by having direct access to arts and social activities.
This project is taking us into three settings, a day service, a care home and a supported living scheme. We have delivered the sessions at AgeUK’s Kington Court where one participant commented: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed my morning again, it’s the way you make it fun. You get to know us and we understand a bit more each week. It would be nice to have more time’.

At a recent Drumming Together session a new member said he nearly didn’t come as the name put him off. He had visions of playing kit drums and being deafened. In the event he was most pleasantly surprised by the gentle warm-ups, brain exercises, fascinating instruments and the lovely warm social atmosphere of the group. Plus the fact that it was not too loud at all. His opinion was seconded by several other members. They said, ‘you should call it Shake Rattle and Roll’ So I’m thinking, perhaps I will change the name. Just had 1000 leaflets printed….

Another thing to think about, do I want to offer a dementia specific provision or a dementia friendly one? The latter would open the programme for more people who would enjoy and benefit from it. Food for thought.




Community drumming. Age UK, Dementia-friendly

Beat It at Kington Court

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Drumming Together ventures into Wales

Beat It has been successful once again with a Big Lottery Fund grant, this time an Awards For All Wales which is enabling us to take Drumming Together to Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon, Powys. We were pleased to be chosen as the featured project in the Big Lottery’s January newsletter, see below:

“A music project for Dementia groups in rural Wales is among those benefiting this month from National Lottery Good Causes money.

Beat it Percussion Community Interest Company in Hay-on-Wye, Powys are one of 62 projects receiving a share of £247,734 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All small grants programme. (For details of all awards, please click here.)

They receive £4,990 to deliver a Drumming Together for Dementia pilot project providing community drumming sessions at Brecon’s Theatr Brycheiniog. The dementia-friendly sessions will be for older adults who are looking for something creative and social to get involved in.

Read more here



Beat It Community Drumming group

Photo by kind courtesy of Judie Waldmann

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Get ready for more community drumming in 2017

Thank yous are due. To our members, volunteers, visitors, support staff and all those people behind the scenes that help members to attend and look after the venues that host us. To the many groups and Homes where our community drumming projects have taken place over the last year. Thanks also to the Big Lottery Fund who have made this work possible, and of course all the people who voted for us last February.

It has been a year of new beginnings, travelling, learning and a lot of hard work. It is odd to reflect that this time last year I was waiting to hear the details about my People’s Project TV film, and starting to worry that I would not find a suitable venue for shooting the film. At the time it all seemed surreal. Looking back I am amazed that from a standing start on 1st April the project was created and up and running by mid May, and sessions have been provided fortnightly at the three venues ever since. Drumming Together is now an established part of the local provision for people living in the community with early-onset dementia, and we want to continue growing the project to reach people further afield. To coin a phrase, watch this space.

Today we held our last session in Leominster and with a smaller group than usual we were able to take time to explore some of my more exotic instruments from far and wide. The Tibetan Singing Bowl (see below) is difficult to play but several members were able to get it to sing.

After the seasonal break we return to our three Drumming Together venues to deliver the remaining sessions and begin the process of gathering our learning from the project – and putting into motion the plans for what comes next.

The diary is already quite full for January with two new projects for local people living with dementia starting up. More will be revealed in due course.

IMG_0475 IMG_1263

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Beat It returns to Oxford and Sandwell

Our 3 week project working with Young Dementia UK at Pitt Rivers Museumhttp://University of Oxford was a great success with a performance by the group in the museum’s Clore Balcony on the last day. Every person chose to take part and play a small solo over a gentle group heartbeat. It was both moving and energising, and the invited audience of relatives and museum staff were appreciative (they had not expected to be included in the call and response game!) Many thanks to the museum and everyone who took part. I very much hope to work with Young Dementia UK and the Museum again.

Thanks also to BUDs (Better Understanding of Dementia in Sandwell) for making me welcome on my tour of clubs across the Black Country. We had a lot of fun doing warm up exercises and using shakers and small instruments to accompany our singing. The sessions worked very well thanks to the active support of BUDs team of volunteers and staff. This has made me realise that particularly when working with people who have high support needs, people’s experience and level of engagement and interest can be hugely affected by the support they receive in addition to what I am able to bring. This is something to take into account when planning future sessions.

Meanwhile the Drumming Together programme continues, at Leominster and Droitwich Meeting Centres and after a 2 week break for pantomine rehearsals, at the Courtyard in Hereford.

Drum, African Drum, snake skin,handling object, music in museums

Snake skin African drum at Pitt Rivers Museum

Drumming for dementia, community drumming, Sandwell, Better Understanding of Dementia

Community drumming session at BUDs, Sandwell

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Dementia group plays in museum and other news

October has been hectic with several small projects coming to a close and some exciting new developments.

Last Monday I went with Beat It Director Linda to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, for the first of three workshops held in the Museum for people with early-onset dementia and their carers.  Part of the museum’s VERVE programme, the project is designed to introduce the museum as an accessible environment and to encourage people to take an active interest in the objects. We were priviledged to be able to use some of the museum’s drums in the workshop. I am looking forward to working with the group again on Monday when we will creating a piece of music for the group to perform on the last day.

Closer to home, the Awards for All Wales funded project taking Beat It into Care Homes in Powys has come to a close. We have worked at Cartref in Hay on Wye, Morgannwg House in Brecon and Try Newydd in Llanfaes. The manager of Try Newydd commented that our sessions were particularly successful because of the flexibility of Beat It’s approach. We worked with any residents who wished to participate, taking the instruments to them in their chairs rather than insisting they join the activity in a formal way. One resident amazed everyone with his competent drumming skills on an improvised drum set, having learned to play many years ago in the army.

Next week sees Beat It returning to Oxford, concluding our tour of BUDs clubs in Sandwell, continuing with the Drumming Together programme and meeting a Stroke Group in Birmingham who we hope to be working with in the future.

Drumming at Try Newydd Care Home in Brecon, Powys

Drumming at Try Newydd Care Home in Brecon, Powys

Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University, drumming for dementia, community drumming, african instruments and artefacts

Playing instruments in the collection at Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

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Community Drumming Festivals and more

With both sons entering or re-entering University life I have  ample time to reflect on the last six months and  plan the next stage in the life of Beat It. I may drop off the radar for a few days and do some thinking by the sea somewhere!

I am currently working on a Reaching Communities application. Completing the form is prompting me to think about more fundamental questions like: what happens to Beat It if we do not succeed in this or a similar application? What do I need to add to my skills and knowledge to take Beat It further and establish it as a sustainable project? How can I pass on the techniques of my practise so that others can deliver Beat It programmes? How can I demonstrate the positive changes my work brings to people and the value-for-money brought about by these changes?

Two events in the last week were great fun and a welcome contrast to my regular work. On Monday I teamed up with Thomas O’Flaherty to run a Brazilian festival of music and dance for Autism West Midlands at Oakfield House, Birmingham. We were amazed at the willingness of the participants to try new things and the high level of skills throughout the group. The staff and management, plus visitors and parents all joined in and made it a high energy event which left everyone buzzing. This event was funded by Sport Relief through the Heart of England Community Foundation. As this was a success we will be seeking to run similar events at other venues.

Last week  I led a foot parade of drummers at the opening of the Hereford Community Games at the Leisure Centre, organised by ECHO. I had ten minutes to distribute instruments to 100 people and a further 5 to teach them how to play a simple rhythm together…and march! The effect was a lot of fun if not exactly a work of military precision. I also ran a lunchtime drumming workshop (pictured) which was a great chance to see old friends play some rhythm games together.

Community Drumming, Autism, Dance, Brazil, festival, drumming for autism

Brazil Festival at Oakfield House with Thomas O’Flaherty

eco games

Beat It at Hereford Leisure Centre for the Community Games

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September already….

I have been busy over August, with a couple of short breaks in North Wales, otherwise business as usual. September will be interesting with meetings planned to begin the process of bidding for a Reaching Communities grant.

Meanwhile sessions continue with Drumming Together in Leominster and Droitwich, with the Courtyard resuming after their break on September 14th. Louise, our new sessional workshop leader, is finding out how flexible you have to be to run a session of this kind! Fortunately she is a capable practitioner and brings her own experience and personality to the role, while for me it is great to be able to delegate.

On a sad note Angela Robinson (below, right) who has been managing the Droitwich Meeting Centre for the Alzheimer’s Society, had her last day on Thursday. Angela has been an enthusiastic advocate for Drumming Together as well as a very keen participant. We will keep in touch and hope to continue working together when she is established in her new role.

Bringing vibrant colour and a fresh sensory experience is our new delivery of drums kindly provided by Music For Alice. (see bottom of page)  ‘The trustees and I were overwhelmed both by the incredible work of your charity and the quality of your application’. These instruments will add a different element to the Drumming Together sessions as well as other projects, and it is good to be able to utilise new sources of funding to complement the existing projects. We pride ourselves on our collection of instruments. We bring real drums, not children’s copies. Our items come from many countries and cultures and this enhances the sensory stimulation and involvement as well as providing talking-points and opportunities for reminiscences.


New instruments thanks to Music for Alice

New instruments thanks to Music for Alice

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Dementia Friends

I am now a Dementia Friends Champion. This means I can run Dementia Friends awareness-raising sessions for the public.

The training session at Theatre Hafren in Newtown, Powys with Alzheimers Society covered many aspects of how to help people live well with dementia and I look forward to providing Dementia Friends sessions in my community.

During August the Drumming Together programme is taking a break at two of its venues, to resume in September. Meanwhile other projects continue. We have just finished a short course of sessions at Dovedale Court in Wednesbury, Sandwell kindly funded by the Harry Payne Fund administered by the Heart of England Community Foundation.

I have had a personal involvement with Dovedale Court for many years so it was exciting (and a little terrifying) to go in with my ‘work hat’ on. The sessions were well attended by residents and supported by keen friendly staff members. A relative who took part together with her mother said ‘It was easy for the residents to get involved. Gentle and non-pressured. Suitable for everyone.’ Dawn the Activities Co-ordinator told me she has purchased some instruments for the residents to enjoy during their music listening. This legacy of continuing music-making is a very important aspect of my work and it is great to see evidence of it taking place. My mother (pictured) said she was not impressed but she liked it more than she admitted!


Dementia Friends Champions training, volunteer trainers for awareness raising for dementia.

Completing the Dementia Friends Champions training with Alzheimers Society at Theatre Hafren, Newtown, Powys

Drumming form dementia, community drumming sessions at Dovedale Court HC One Ltd in Wednesbury, Sandwell

Drumming at Dovedale Court

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The People’s Projects And More

On July 10th I travelled  to the impressive Brangwyn Hall in Swansea for the PRIME Cymru Business Awards. Although Beat It did not win the Growth Business category it was a privilege to be a finalist and HRH was genuinely interested in my work.

Drumming Together, funded by The People’s Projects, is well established in its three venues now with 6 sessions already delivered at each. A major piece of news is that Beat It has taken on a sessional practitioner, Louise Money, who took over the delivery of sessions while I was on holiday. With a dance and movement background Louise has a calm and flexible approach which means she can step in and deliver sessions effectively. Welcome, Louise.

The Courtyard sessions are now closed for the centre’s summer break and will resume on September 14th at the new and better time of 2 till 3.30pm. Leominster and Droitwich continue on a fortnightly basis, please ask for dates.

In addition to Drumming Together Beat It is working at a number of settings across Herefordshire and the West Midlands including several Residential Homes for people living with dementia including Kington Court and the Weir Nursing Home. The Weir’s Activities Coordinator Teresa commented: ‘It was quite surprising how many of the residents got involved. This is completely new for us and it is difficult even for me to get my head round it. People respond to all the different sounds and it is nice you get visitors joining in’.

Prime Cymru, Growth Business Awards, Brangwyn Hall Swansea

Prime Cymru Awards 2016 – held at the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea, South Wales. HRH The Prince of Wales, Founder & President of PRIME Cymru attends the charity’s annual awards which celebrate and showcase a range of achievements by both clients and mentors. Winners were awarded within the categories of New Business, Growth Business, Green Business, Mentor of the Year and new category this year – Positive about Age Employer Award. HRH The Prince of Wales is pictured with the category winners and talking to those who have benefited from the charity.
Pic by: RICHARD STANTON. Tel: (01584) 878990 / Mob: (07774) 286733. Email: All rights 02/07/16, (please see terms of repro use). FOR FULL PRESS RELEASE PLEASE CONTACT JULES WESTON, PRIME CYMRU. email: / tel: 0800 587 4085.


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