Falkirk group uses rock 'n' roll to spark memories for people with dementia

Elvis Presley and his rock ‘n’ roll pals got people on the dance floor in the 1950s, and now their timeless music is helping these same people recall those good times.

By James Trimble
Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 12:30 pm

Groups in the Falkirk area have been using the classic tunes of Elvis and other music stars in an initiative called Jukebox Days, which is based on the highly successful football reminiscence projects which Alzheimer Scotland began back in 2004.

Jukebox Days member Michael White said: “Jukebox Days uses a similar approach, but instead of football, it focuses on the pop music of the 1950s and 1960s.

“Jukebox Days groups in the Falkirk area have so far been linked with similar groups in the USA and Canada, with seven pilot projects proving incredibly successful.”

The group uses music to spark memories

Falkirk’s groups have been logging onto Zoom sessions with new friends in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and North Carolina to share their memories of the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll.

The sessions usually last for about an hour and – as well as the music – recall the main events of a particular year in the 50s and 60s.

Michael said: “They also talk about the fashions, hairstyles, transport and films and TV, before moving on to the real business – the music they all listened and danced to back in their teenage years.

“The 50s charts were dominated by American singers and the same big stars were popular both in America and Scotland. While Elvis Presley was the big favourite in

the 50s, many recalled having posters on their walls with the likes of Bobby Vee, Connie Francis and Neil Sedaka.

“In the 60s, the British groups took over and The Beatles, the Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones were hugely popular in Britain and America.”

The sessions always begin by highlighting some of the links between Scotland and the particular American state or Canadian province in question.

"Last week’s session saw local people link to North Carolina.” said Michael. “They discovered scenes from Outlander, supposedly set in North Carolina, were actually

filmed in the Falkirk area.

“Scotland and North Carolina it seemed were interchangeable in terms of scenery. We also discovered Flora McDonald had fled to North Carolina and there was a Flora McDonald College in North Carolina.

“They also had a Highland Games there, modelled on the Braemar gathering.”

In planned future sessions, Jukebox Days members will discover the close links between Scotland and Texas.

Michael said: “Scots fought and died at The Alamo and, of course, the Texan place names betray a strong Scots heritage. In future sessions we will see the addition of Screen Memories where the two countries will share their memories of the big films, the iconic stars and the unforgettable memories of a night at the cinema."

If anyone knows someone who might like to join in some of the sessions and they have a friend, carer or family member who can arrange access to a laptop, phone or tablet, they can e-mail [email protected] for more information.

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