NarrativeFor over 12 years DART has had a collaboration with Manchester Camerata and their programme of work for people with dementia called Music in Mind and more recently, Music in Mind Remote. Formed in 2012 as part of Manchester Camerata’s community development responsibilities, Music in Mind is an established 20-week improvised music-making programme designed for people with dementia living in either the community or in a care home. The fundamental objectives of Music in Mind are to provide a democratic, percussion-based, improvised music-making space aimed at enhancing participants’ wellbeing. Developed as a response to the pandemic, the Music in Mind Remote online training programme for care home staff has so far reached over 200 people in North-West England and was featured in a November 2020 article in the ‘Society’ section of The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/18/the-music-project-helping-dementia-patients-find-their-voice-during-lockdown). The Music in Mind Remote programme takes the form of 20-weekly online hour-long training sessions delivered by specially trained musicians attached to Manchester Camerata, together with a music therapist. After an induction period, the techniques of Music in Mind are specifically taught to interested care home staff who then undertake the programme with residents with dementia and family carers. There is an accompanying Music in Mind Remote web resource containing instructional videos and downloadable music tracks that can be accessed by care home staff outside the training sessions.
To date, our structured evaluations of the time-limited Music in Mind (in-person and face-to-face) programme (conducted prior to the pandemic) have focused on capturing and valuing the ‘in the moment’ benefits and experiences of improvised music-making for and by people with dementia, such as the participants’ continuing creativity and embodied relationships. This work has demonstrated that some people living with dementia may have an embodied memory of performing within the Music in Mind space, but limited (if any) later recall of their improvised music-making, even when those memories are replayed to the person with dementia via video.
The partnership has resulted in two funded ESRC CASE PhD studentships (one complete) and grant capture, including from the NIHR SSCR and the UKRI Design for Ageing funding scheme.
Dementia and Ageing Research Team (DART)