One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain

Not all Rotarians will recognise the quotation above, which comes from Bob Marley’s 1973 composition Trenchtown Rock, but many will recognise its truth.

For some years now, members of the Rotary Club of Roundhay have been going into care homes with a ‘Desert Island Discs’ roadshow to cheer up the residents by playing them their favourite pieces of music.

We send a team in for a first visit, chat to the residents about their lives, exploring any interest in music, and invite them to choose a piece to be played, which we then present to them a week or two later in a plenary session.

Many of the residents really welcome the opportunity to talk about their lives. The staff at the homes have often told us that they find out more about the residents from us than they have picked up in months of working at the home.

At the plenary session where music choices are played, I am often amazed at the power of music to unleash emotions. We have seen both joy and, occasionally tears, as memories come flooding back.

The residents’ choices are put into playlists on Spotify or I-Tunes.

A sample playlist from our visit to Adel Grange Care Home in October 2023 included rock and roll, Country, some culture from Mozart and Tchaikovsky; some schmaltz from the Sound of Music, and some big band swing from Glenn Miller.

Our organiser Jill Fisher danced with the residents, and one lady treated us to the chorus of Chattanooga Choo Choo, endlessly repeated to her and our delight.

When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to the bar,

Then you know that Tennessee is not very far

Shovel all the coal in, Gotta keep it rollin’

Woo, woo, Chattanooga there you are

Great stuff. We all enjoyed the music, but as ever it was the personal reminiscences of the Castaways, explaining the emotional resonances of their choices, that linger in the memory.

Residents and staff welcome our visits – we’re always invited to return.

Get in touch with Roundhay Rotary Club:

0113 266 6203