Orchestra starts 30-week dementia initiative

Orchestra starts 30-week dementia initiative


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2017

Press release from the Manchester Camerata:

Manchester Camerata is delivering a 30 week Music in Mind programme on the wards of the Royal Bolton Hospital, supported by £11,000 funding from the People’s Postcode Trust.  Many of the patients are living with dementia, and whilst they are in the hospital to receive treatment for a different medical or surgical need, they can find being in hospital disorientating. Music can have a calming effect.

Lucy Geddes, Camerata in the Community Manager, said that this project is not about playing music to patients, rather it is about playing music with patients. She said: “Rather than being music for people, this is music with people. It gives patients living with dementia the chance to contribute to the music-making. This could be by tapping a drum or playing the bells – any contribution is valid. The result is that they feel empowered and in control of what they are doing, and their mood therefore often improves. People who are not able to communicate verbally can often communicate through music.”


  • Petros Linardos says:

    I can see how the above kind of event can be fantastic for children, including those with special needs. But I don’t understand how this can really help dementia patients. I am speaking from personal experience. A relative who used to adore music gradually lost interest in music during the middle stages of dementia. First became ridiculously picky (couldn’t stand beloved recordings of Carlos Kleiber or Sviatoslav Richter), then stopped listening altogether. And no, there was otherwise no sign of depression. Did I witness an atypical case?

    • Bruce says:

      Dementia takes many forms and follows many different patterns. Certainly some patterns are more common than others, but “dementia” is such a wide umbrella that I’d hesitate to call any case “atypical.”

    • Jane Sorrell says:

      Hi Petros,
      I’m guessing that just on the numbers we have dealt with at Manchester Camerata, your experience is atypical. With any programme there are always difficulties quantifying results however we currently have a PHD student Robyn Dowlan, doing a worlds first research into Dementia and Music in order to help with this process. Manchester Camerata have also been working in Japan ,as they have a huge ageing population, to help them set up similar community programmes to help their Dementia sufferers and their families. We feel its important for family members such as yourself to get involved with the work too. Sorry about your relatives change in interest in music.