Transforming Communities

National Lottery awards funding for Musical Memory Cafes in the South West

Live Music Now duo The Bingcows with volunteer Helen and participant Rose at Totnes Caring Memory Café

Music has often been shown to have a dramatic effect on people living with dementia, unlocking memories and reaching parts of the brain in ways that other forms of communication cannot. As part of our Wellbeing programme, bringing music to older people in care homes and the community, Live Music Now South West has recently been awarded a grant of £10,000 from the National Lottery to bring professional musicians to perform at Memory Cafes in Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge and Bovey Tracey.

The Musical Memory Café project has already been piloted in Totnes, with Live Music Now working alongside Totnes Caring to hold monthly music sessions. The audiences, which include carers as well as people living with dementia, have been able to listen to a wide range of music, from folk to classical to popular, and to join in through singing, playing percussion instruments, dancing and even conducting. The impact on the group has been profound, as Victoria Wolf of Totnes Caring described following a Live Music Now session: “One gentleman accepted the invitation to conduct and stood bolt upright, arms fully extended, and conducted the whole group imaginatively and confidently. The entire group displayed sustained, concentrated focus for a surprisingly long time. Even those with quite advanced dementia joined in with joy, confidence and musicality. It was quite simply magical to witness!”

To build on the success of this project, Live Music Now applied to The National Lottery’s Community Fund to support an extension of Musical Memory Café sessions to further settings. Musicians will be making regular visits as part of existing Memory Cafes run by Dartmouth Caring and Alzheimer’s Society, as well as Totnes Caring. The charity is also planning a training session for staff and volunteers who are interested in bringing more music into their work. The project will launch on 22 March 2019 with a session at Totnes Boat Club. Anyone with concerns about their memory or who is living with dementia, or caring for someone who is, can find more details through the links below.


About Live Music Now


Live Music Now was founded in 1977 by violinist Yehudi Menuhin to realise his twin ambitions of nurturing young musicians at the outset of their career and bringing the joy of live music to all.

Each year, Live Music Now delivers thousands of music workshops throughout the UK – in hospitals, care homes, special schools and communities. There are over 320 musicians on the LMN scheme at any time, who are trained based on the latest medical, educational and healthcare research. Since they started, Live Music Now has given over 75,000 interactive music sessions, for over 2.8 million people.


Alzheimer’s Society

Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity. They provide information and support, fund research, campaign to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Dementia devastates lives. Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. By 2021, 1 million people will be living with the condition. This will soar to two million by 2051.


The National Lottery Community Fund

The National Lottery Community Fund offers funding from £300 to £10,000 to support what matters to people and communities. They fund organisations with great project ideas that shape the places and spaces that matter to communities; bring more people together and build strong relationships in and across communities; and enable more people to fulfil their potential by working to address issues at the earliest possible stage.

A group of people in a recording studio, singing and clapping hands

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