Transforming Communities

Garden gigs bring joy to adults living with dementia and complex needs

LMN ensemble Bowreed serenades care home residents

With live music performances interrupted by the pandemic, Live Music Now musicians pitched up in the gardens of care homes to continue involving residents with live music. As a result of the Musical Care Homes project, funded by Quartet Community Foundation, residents enjoyed singing (within Covid-safe guidelines), moving to music and using percussion instruments. This creative solution enabled Live Music Now to host three concert tours comprising a total of 18 performances for all residents and staff of six AbleCare care homes in Bristol. Musical genres ranged from jazz (by the Hopkins Oliver Duo) to folk (Bowreed) and classical (performed by Taff Duo).

The importance of this work cannot be overstated. Even pre-pandemic, those in care homes often encountered loneliness and isolation. Taking part in music is so beneficial to those living with dementia, as it improves communication, memory, enjoyment of life and creative thinking. In fact, all homes reported increased engagement during the musical performance, with participants being interested, chatty, enthusiastic and appreciative.

Taff Duo performing outdoors for AbelCare residents

We performed music outside, under apple trees, parasols and through windows. The atmosphere was great and the residents were so happy to be able to share in the joy of live music once again. The most memorable moment was when an elderly man with learning difficulties enjoyed performing ballet throughout our concert; dancing, pirouetting and twirling with staff members. He came up to us at the end of the concert, gave us a thumbs up and said thanks for the great music!”– Taff Duo


LMN Singer/Songwriter Chris Webb performing outdoors for residents

The impact of musical performances lasts far beyond the activity itself, providing a talking point, a happy memory and the stimulus for new activity built into the fabric of care homes. A study by Live Music Now and the University of Winchester (entitled Live Music in Care) concluded that regular music-making enhances the working and living environment for care home residents and staff.

LMN Singer/Songwriter Chris Webb performing outdoors for residents

The majority of homes also reported increased engagement after the performance. Staff at one home said: “The musicians were engaging with the residents –  it was fun and everyone that wanted to join in had a great time…would love for this to be a regular part of life.”

“Quartet Community Foundation have been very helpful during the pandemic when we were no longer able to deliver the project as initially planned.” – Anna MacGregor, Live Music Now