When we were choosing our tools for the co-creative sessions, we were seeking to fulfill two desires. We wanted to have tools that would enable group members with dementia to participate meaningfully in the co-creative process, that would allow people to engage in different ways – notably non-verbally and in a non-narrative way, as well as with stories and verbal input. We also wanted to gather participants input with a strongly visual and audio focus – bearing in mind that we intended to make the finished piece into a video soundscape.
We avoided preconceptions about what tools a group of older people may find attractive and engaging and, instead, focused on our two desires, allowing them to inform us as we developed the tools. Taking this route, we ended up with a low tech visual tool and a more high tech approach for the audio elements. It was great to see how both approaches engaged the participants. The repositionable collage board with image cards and coloured shapes, stimulated conversation and stories whilst also enabling people to participate non-verbally.
The audio tools involved a Midi keyboard hooked-up to Cubasis on an IPad to allow group members to play sounds and instruments. Participants responded positively to the equipment, keen to play and experiment with pushing keys and buttons, layering sounds and trying-out different instrument sounds.
The positive response to the more high tech tools has got us thinking about how else we could enable people to access music and sound creation. That’s me (Emma) back to rummaging in my box of Raspberry Pi bits and sensors . . . I can feel some kind of home-made Theremin coming on!