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Blog: Shedders making music

1 August 2023

Every Tuesday lunchtime, in Dunfermline’s Pittencrief Park, you can hear the twang of guitars drifting from the city’s Men’s Shed. It’s ‘The Shedbellies’ – a music club by and for Shed members.

Chair Alastair Wood says: “It’s about encouraging people to express themselves.  You can play spoons or tap the table – it doesn’t matter so long as you are enjoying yourself!” For Alastair, the group is also about creating conditions in which Shedders feel comfortable talking. “People who have spent too long in their own company can be frightened to open-up. I’ve had my own issues, and I found the best, but also the hardest thing, is talking.” 

The group aims to be inclusive of Shedders who have physical health issues and (or) thinking and memory challenges. “There’s no formal tuition as not everyone is able to commit to coming each week and practicing in-between.  So, we’ve put up beginners guides on our website.  We’re collecting instruments of different sizes, as big instruments are hard to play if you have small hands or arthritis. And we’re getting a sound system which members who can’t, or don’t want, to play can use to share with others the music they love.”

Club member Tim says: “I’ve played guitar since I was 11 and played in bands in the 80s and 90s.  But, running my own business, I didn’t play for many years.” Being in the club has sparked his interest again.  “I really enjoy jamming with Alastair and others.  I forgot so much, but it’ slowly coming back. It’s a lot of fun.”

A life-long music lover, Alastair has recently been coached in songwriting. “I took part in a competition and performed a song I’d written about my own experience of loneliness. There was a lassie there, a wheelchair user, who said to me, ‘that’s just how I feel – how did you get the courage to express yourself?’ Writing my own songs helps me to do that.”

Research suggests involvement in music making can significantly boost quality of life in later years.  Benefits include increased vitality, lower stress, confidence, purpose, a sense of achievement and improvements in concentration and memory.  To find out about music making opportunities near you, call the Age Scotland Community Connecting Service on 0800 12 44 222.