Music Therapy Week 22 – 28 June #MTW2015

Instrumental Role of Music Therapy in Supporting People with Dementia

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This year’s music therapy week has a focus on the instrumental role music therapy has to play in supporting people with dementia and those who care for them. Leading research has shown that music therapy can significantly help to improve and support the mood, alertness and engagement of people with dementia, can reduce the use of medication, as well as helping to manage and reduce agitation, isolation, depression and anxiety, overall supporting a better quality of life (Ridder et al, 2013)

We are celebrating music therapy week with you, with a blog post from Rebecca, our Alzheimer Scotland music therapy intern @mt_rebecca

Catch up with the Alzheimer Scotland Music Therapy Intern

I have now been in post for six months with Alzheimer Scotland and would like to update you on the progress I have been making.  I invite you to listen to my suggested song titles as you read through my blog…

Over the last few months I have been developing my thinking around the practicalities of delivering therapeutic musical activity for people living with dementia. I am in the early stages of developing a document called ‘Music and Me’. This document hopes to do two things:

  1. Promote person centred practice by creating a musical life story for a person living with dementia from childhood through to present day, a profile that can begin at any time for anyone.
  2. Encouraging carers, families, staff, activity organisers and allied health professionals to partnership work and share good practice when engaging people in meaningful musical activity.

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I am about to pilot the idea and work in partnership with a music therapy student from Queen Margaret University in the autumn to see if the theory and aspirations of Music and Me can work in practice.

“I get by with a little help from my friends”, The Beatles

Sharing my learning and my role as a music therapy intern is a large part of my day to day work.  In September 2015, Dr Philippa Derrington  @PLDerrington, Queen Margaret University and I will be presenting at the ‘Music Therapy and Dementia Conference’, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. The title of our paper is ‘Approaching dementia care together’, this will bring focus on the strategic alliance Alzheimer Scotland have formed with Queen Margaret University, and the progress of music therapy within Alzheimer Scotland.  I am looking forward to sharing all the work I have been developing.

“Listen (Dream girls)”, Beyoncé 

Sometimes it’s good to stop, blether and listen! Who knows what we might learn…

Across Scotland AHP’s have been engaging the public in “tea and blether” sessions. The blethers took place throughout dementia awareness week, to help promote the public and professionals to talk about dementia.

I was involved in “blethering” for the week and had many enquiries about the use of music therapy within dementia care. The blether sessions were a great opportunity to spread the word about what music therapist have to offer people living with dementia. On reflection, the blether sessions also provided the AHP’s with the opportunity to listen to the needs of the general public.

“Express yourself”, Labrinth 

Music therapy is all about providing people with the opportunity to express themselves…

Over the last eight weeks I have been running an open music therapy group within Alzheimer Scotland day care services in Dumfries. Music therapy had a role in bringing a group of people together with varying interests, experience and abilities.  The group engaged in creating meaningful music, meaningful conversation and reminiscence therapy. Everyone within the group was able to share the experience with each other and had the opportunity to engage in the music in any way they wished. The music therapy sessions were tailored to peoples individual needs whilst also being part of a group that had a focus on a ‘can do’ attitude.  By doing this I found people were empowered to express themselves within sessions, were creative while also making music.

The feedback from everyone involved was extremely positive.

Some of the comments included:

  • “Music therapy makes me feel happy”
  • “I enjoyed being part of a group”
  • “The music has a big impact on that man, it’s amazing”

The overall feedback suggested that people felt happy and relaxed after the sessions and my colleagues comments reflected this too.

In the next few weeks I will be running music therapy sessions in our sensory day care service in Alzheimer Scotland Dumfries resource centre. The focus of this work will take on a similar format but engage people with advanced dementia. I am confident of the benefits of music therapy for people with advanced dementia, enabling people to engage in a therapy that is inclusive, person centred and has the ability to tap into memories of long ago

“Thank you for the music”, Amanda Seyfried (mamma mia)

Thank you for supporting music therapy and dementia by reading this blog. Please feel to leave reflections, comments and questions below.

June 22nd-28th is music therapy week… why not share your favourite piece of music with a loved one…

Thank you for the music!

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Music Therapist/Music Therapy Intern


I recently graduated from Anglia Ruskin University with a postgraduate Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy. At present I am working with Alzheimer Scotland as a Music Therapist/Music Therapy Intern. I have a key interest in further researching the benefit of music therapy for someone living with dementia. I gained this interest after having a personal experience with a close family friend who had Alzheimer’s disease, I was inspired by her clear motivation when interacting musically with me. This initial experience led me to train as a music therapist.  I hope that throughout my time working with Alzheimer Scotland I can contribute to the growing research around music therapy and dementia care.


4 thoughts on “Music Therapy Week 22 – 28 June #MTW2015

  1. I think this is a great idea! They should do music therapy or activities including music in all nursing homes to keep people with dementia active! I am a student speech and language therapist and would love it if you could check out my blog!

  2. I attended a few of these sessions Rebecca delivered in Day Care! I couldn’t believe the difference this made to some of our service users, who didn’t engage in day care and were quite unsettled, wandering around! But once Rebecca started to play her guitar and service users were playing an instrument of their choice, This touched me to see the difference this made to peoples lives and well being! It was amazing to watch service users take a seat & how relaxed they became, engaging, happily in the activity, with smiles on their faces. I was so inspired by these sessions! I think this is such a fantastic tool to use to reach out to some of our Service Users, who have impaired speech and find it difficult to enjoy day care! I know if I sing, it uplifts me and makes me feel happy! Well done Rebecca Queen!!

    • Thank you for your feedback and kind words Lesley. The therapy sessions would not have worked if it hadn’t been for such great staff involvement and support!

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