newark-lincoln-documentary-child-photographer-caterpillarOn Friday I had the honour of photographing Anna from Caterpillar Music Newark as she held one of her music sessions at the Southwell Court Care Home. It was one of the most profound, energising and surprising experiences of my life. I have read about the magic that music has on the development of children, and how it helps the elderly – but seeing it in person? That was just incredible. Watching the changes taking place on the residents’ faces as the children filed in, puppets and shakers were handed out (to everyone!), and the singing began was just…wow.. (have I said “amazing”, “incredible” and “wow” enough?)

So, I had to ask Anna for the how and why and this is what she wrote. Please take a moment to read her post and watch the slideshow. So much connection, so much beauty. I was nearly moved to tears more than once while editing these…


It was little over a year ago that a chance watching of a video clip changed my working life forever. This may seem a huge thing to say but just watching that 3 minute film has impacted my life in a way I never thought possible. In the clip, from Providence Mount St. Vincent (an assisted living facility in Seattle) I saw preschool children and elderly residents enjoying singing, playing and talking together….this planted the seed.

I found Southwell Court Care Home, a large local home who were eager to work in partnership with me. March 2016 saw the first intergenerational class take place. A small group of children, together with their parents and carers came along to their music class in the lounge of the care home where residents could join in as much or as little as they wished. The residents loved seeing the children and the children were more than happy to interact with them. The staff and I have observed residents who rarely speak, sing along to nursery rhymes from their childhoods and join in with action songs, all with enormous smiles on their faces. Dementia sufferers and young children live ‘in the moment’ so when these two groups come together the results are simply magical. Many residents’ relatives now visit at the same time as our class, adding another generation to the mix.

Age UK say:-

“The power of music, especially singing, to unlock memories and kickstart the grey matter is an increasingly key feature of dementia care. It seems to reach parts of the damaged brain in ways other forms of communication cannot.

We know that the auditory system of the brain is the first to fully function at 16 weeks, which means that you are musically receptive long before anything else. So it’s a case of first in, last out when it comes to a dementia-type breakdown of memory.”

Just as the children feel secure in the regular structure of the class; residents, too, feel comfortable recognising what is coming next. The benefits to both young and old are clear for all to see. These children are not just experiencing all the benefits of an interactive music class but also becoming part of a unique extended family where all ages support and engage with each other. I am so pleased to see the joy on the faces of all involved and hope that reading this may just ‘plant the seed’ for someone else; encouraging them to take that leap and bring generations together; you will be surprised at what you see!

About Anna

I am a 41 year old married mummy of two. As a primary school teacher with 20 years experience I have always loved spending time with children. Three years ago I bought my Caterpillar Music Franchise, offering interactive, multi sensory music classes to babies and toddlers in and around Newark and Lincoln. I can honestly say that I love my job; feeling honoured that parents choose to spend some of their precious family time with me. If you would like to find out more about Caterpillar Music Classes in your area or have a question about intergenerational classes please contact me.

Anna Coggan 01636 671883, 07443 536758,



If you are a local business and would like me to come and photograph you, please get in touch! I am always happy to work with other small businesses, and share the amazing things happening all around us!

One Comment

  1. This is so beautiful – bringing generations together needs to happen much more xxx inspiring x Very pleased it’s happening on my doorstep – well done to all involved x

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