Session 5

5. Friday 16.12. 2016

Conversation at the beginning of the session about putting the Christmas tree up, then Phil tried to explain that they had left too late to go to Bristol and had to get Fish and Chips.

Welcome Song’ – Phil could remember the words of the song and despite the disruption of my phone ringing he could remember the words and had a few brilliant moments of remembering his children’s names – but they were written down. I discussed this with him at the end of the song and he agreed that he found he could remember their names if they were written down.

We moved on to carols and I asked if he knew Hark the Herald’; I sang a bit and he recognised the tune – he joined in. I asked Phil to read the words of the carol from a sheet in front of him, which he did and hardly any words were right, however when he sang, a much larger percentage of words were correct. We talked about this afterwards and we came up with some theories;

  • he was more relaxed when he was singing
  • the tune helped him to remember the words
  • he remembered it from school / being a choir boy.

The atmosphere was relaxed and we laughed quite a bit – Janet teased Phil when he admitted to being in the school choir and I asked if there were any photos of him in his altar boy surplus.

We moved on to Once in Royal David’s City; again Phil read the words, getting a few right but most wrong but again when singing many more were correct. He was fooled by the title, however and sang the first line twice; we stopped and I pointed out what he had done. Interesting – was he concentrating so much on reading the words that he forgot how titles worked?

Then ‘While Shepherds Watched’on his reading I got the impression that he recognised what he was reading but just couldn’t get the words out right. We talked about different versions and Phil appeared to recognise the differences.

We Three Kings’ – we were just enjoying singing by this time (once I’d got the key right – Phil has quite a high voice and I often pitched things too low for him.) After a pause to move my capo I asked where we were up to and it was Phil rather than Janet who gave me the first word of the next verse.

Ding Dong Merrily’ – Phil’s reading of the words was practically unrecognisable as the song – again there many more correct words when he sang. When I reminded him that this was the song with the long ‘Gloria’ in and sang it to him he sang it repeating the ‘Gloria’ where it shouldn’t be; however he got it right in the context of the song.

Whilst looking for the words for ‘The Wild Rover’ Phil started telling me about learning to play the violin when he was a child. I was often painfully aware that Phil was trying to tell me things and I just couldn’t understand him. Half-way through the 1st verse I felt Phil wanted to say something,(I recognised the intake of breath that he often does before he speaks but we all kept singing; at the end of the verse however Phil felt compelled to stop the song and tell me about a book he had in Kettering – I didn’t explore this comment as I only understood what he was saying when I listened back. I also became aware when listening back that often the guitar was too loud – I need to move the recorder closer to Phil and further away from me!

Jingle Bells’- Again the reading of the words contained many mistakes. Curiously, although like many of the other songs, the reading of the words was not as successful as the singing of them, ‘Jingle Bells’ came out as ‘Jingle Dells’ for the whole of the first chorus. The following choruses were correctly sung as ‘Jingle Bells’. It seems that it just took a while for Phil’s speech to catch up and after one chorus his memory kicked in and ‘Jingle Bells came out correctly.

At the end of the song Phil said, ‘I like it!’ Again I misunderstood what he meant at the time but listening back I believe that he is saying that when he was a boy in Kettering, their word sheets didn’t have those verses.

At the end of the session I asked Phil to say his children’s names again, which with encouragement he could – by reading them. We had a run through ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ – Phil was very familiar with the tune but hardly got any words right.

Phil said ‘Thank you for that as the session was drawing to an end’. He does seem to enjoy the sessions; it could be the music or it could be the attention I give him – or possibly a mixture of the two.