Charity, Ferndown, Health, Latest News | Posted: Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 at 8:18 am | return to news

Oz Clarke gets on his bike to support music therapy for people living with dementia

Residents at Ferndown Nursing Home were treated to a mini performance on 11 September by members of the choir and music education charity Armonico Consort together with the wine expert and TV broadcaster Oz Clarke.
Oz and Armonico’s mini performance at Ferndown Nursing Home
Oz and Armonico’s mini performance at Ferndown Nursing Home

Songs such as ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ brought a little cheer to people who have been isolated for many months and were presented by the singers as socially distanced performances.

Oz Clarke said, “Despite the pain of last year’s bike ride it wasn’t difficult to persuade me to get back in the saddle to support such a worthy cause which has the potential to change lives for people with dementia and their carers, helping them to reconnect through exploring musical memories.”

The tour aims to raise awareness of the benefits of music therapy for older people and those living with dementia and launches the charity’s partnership with The Alzheimer’s Society to deliver specialist music and singing therapy projects to support people with dementia.

Managers at Ferndown Nursing Home who told residents the day before what was going to happen, said, “There was a real buzz around the home which hasn’t been felt for some time since Covid. The residents were all so excited, planning their outfits. It brought joy to the residents and staff, including those who could only listen from their windows.”

Music has been scientifically-proven to offer mental health and wellbeing benefits for older people, also helping to reconnect memory and alleviate anxiety in people living with dementia.

Christopher Monks, artistic director of Armonico Consort, said, “What took us all by surprise was addressing our audience at one of the care homes – people living with dementia – we got little reaction before we began but, by the time we had finished performing, they were cheering, joining in, singing, playing instruments; the room was electric and I have never in my life experienced music having such an effect on the human mind.  Afterwards, we were told that the residents would not remember our visit by tomorrow, but they would remember that today was a happy day, that they experienced a happy emotion, and that has made the entire bike ride worthwhile.”   

The first of the new projects – Unlocking Baroque/Musical Memories – is a series of one-to-one live music therapy sessions for which Armonico Consort’s professional musicians have received specialist training from The Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain project. The musicians will be paired up with individuals living with dementia and their carers to help unlock memories through musical engagement, with the help of Remind Me technology.    

The new project builds on Armonico Consort’s existing resources for older people and those with dementia which include group singing sessions and a new library of online sessions, filmed during lockdown to help people isolated in their own homes and in care settings. 

Armonico Consort is especially grateful to Phillips 66 and JET, BluDog, Corratec Electric Bikes and Waitrose & Partners. Special thanks also to Mr Roger Medwell MBE, DL and Mr Baljit Shergill for generously supporting this event. 

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