On Monday 19th July, under the bright sky of an extraordinarily warm day, a group of excited people gathered at the West Didsbury and Chorlton Football Club. We weren’t there to watch a match, though in its own way, it was a game of two sides. One side was a collection of young people from Chorlton High School and the other local people who ranged in age. Instead of football, we played music. The results of the match were fantastic for both teams. Read on to find out more!
The Stories of Our Lives intergenerational storytelling group have now been meeting regularly online for the past 15 months to reflect and then connect on a variety of topics. With the loosening of restrictions and the improved weather, we decided that an in-person session would be a wonderful next step. We also used this as a chance to reach out to the wider community and include some younger people in our enjoyment of sharing stories. This is when Chorlton High got involved as well as local psychologist and community connector Gemma Parker.
To prepare for the day, the participants were asked to think of two pieces of music that were meaningful to them. At the beginning of the session, I then guided them to reflect on memories and associations they had with these tracks. In pairs, one older and one younger person then took it in turns to share their music and their thoughts and feelings about it. Whilst one participant shared, the other listened, informed by the thought-provoking guidance offered by Gemma.
The nerves and uncertainty felt at the beginning of the session melted along with the ice-creams we shared. People started to really connect with each other as they truly listened to what felt meaningful, moving and important for the other. Participants of both sides were introduced to music they had not heard before. Multiple, often surprising commonalities in both music and meanings were discovered, despite surface differences. As one young participant put it, “It was so interesting and even though we were all different ages, it felt that all that went away and we were united.”
Other feedback included comments like, “It was really enjoyable to spend time with someone I would not normally meet,” and “I think it was wonderful. I find the high school involvement an extremely generous thing, it is remarkable that at that age the kids have reached the community and shared such personal music taste etc. The whole event was a superb idea.”
I am very grateful for the support of everyone involved; all the participants for their enthusiasm and involvement, Chorlton High and especially their lead teacher Mrs Haygarth, Gemma for her help leading the session, Pat my husband for lugging around lots of equipment, Rachel Bywater, the photographer for preserving the event so beautifully, Buzz Manchester for supporting us with some funding and WDCFC for hosting us at their clubhouse.
Everyone involved said they would like to have more experiences like this one, also suggesting fantastic creative ideas of how to share the results. This means we plan on doing another similar event later in the year, opening it up to more people in the community. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or on this blog to keep updated with dates!
Comment below with your thoughts on this event and the music shared. Maybe you could even write about your own favourite tracks and the stories behind them? We would love to hear what you have to say!