Evidence on live music’s profound impact for Dementia Sufferers

Monday 12th January 2009 1:00AM

Live music's profound impact for Dementia Sufferers

Professional observation showing live music's direct impact on continued wellbeing for dementia sufferers has been undertaken by the progressive outreach charity Live Music Now (LMN). The organisation, in partnership with Nightingale House Care Home, London, has been carrying out a sustained programme of interactive music workshops in a special dementia unit, under continuing professional observation.

Nightingale House is so impressed with the results of the 'Meaningful Moments' project that it is making the LMN workshops an integral part of its ongoing care for residents. It is also extending the programme to include people living with profound physical disabilities including those who have had severe strokes.

In monthly sessions, over ten months, working with the same two specially-trained LMN musicians, recipients have engaged with the music and communicated with others. To their delight, staff, family and carers have regained glimpses of the real person behind the dementia as they begin to respond to the musicians and those around them.

Ann Stuart, experienced evaluator in the field of dementia, who observed the work said:

"There is no doubt that the medium of music and the musicians themselves became therapeutic tools, activating communication and interaction that would otherwise never have taken place."

Nightingale House is a pioneer in providing arts therapies to assist in the wellbeing of those in its care. Alastair Addison, Head of Activities, Nightingale House, said:

"Music is a memory function that remains towards the end of people's lives. We knew of LMN's success with working with older people and that they appointed highly qualified musicians with classical and popular repertoire.

"It was important to us to explore the effect of the same two musicians coming throughout the year and I believe this has been a key factor in the project's achievements."

The LMN charity, established by Yehudi Menuhin over 30 years ago, would like this quality of service to be available to all care homes throughout the UK.
Sarah Derbyshire MBE, Executive Director, Live Music Now said:

"The 'Meaningful Moments' project demonstrates the vital role live music plays in the care of people with dementia. Performed by specially-trained musicians, music's communicative and healing properties have a direct impact on patient care, enhancing their wellbeing and benefiting their staff, carers and families.

"The project's success has depended on the musicians' ability to call on a wide range of repertoire and use appropriate music in immediate response to participants, demonstrating the clear need for live music and highly competent musicians".

The LMN workshops have a lasting effect on the young professional musicians involved. Kokila Gillett, violinist and singer, part of the Philomel Duo alongside pianist and composer Pavel Timofejevsky said:

"These sessions have been inspirational for us. To be privy to the residents' transformations within a session and in the context of the longer project was a privilege.

"Especially touching has been when a person lost in the fog of dementia, unable to make cohesive conversation, occasionally makes an eloquently articulated comment completely pertinent to the moment after or during the music. This is when we realise that the music has enabled them to experience the nostalgia of their past and of the present.

"We have become attached to the residents and we feel that they remember us through these musical sessions; even though they don't remember our names, a relationship has developed between us and them."

Further information from:

Rita Vail, Vail & Associates, T: 020 7738 0722 - M: 07968 721062 rita@vail.co.uk Pictures available: - please call or email

Editor's Notes

About Live Music Now's Meaningful Moments Project

Case Study arising from Meaningful Moments

About Ann Stuart, experienced evaluator

The Musicians' Perspective

About Live Music Now (LMN)

About Nightingale House

[ Top ]

Back