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Making Music is Magical

“Each session starts with a beautiful introduction song from the CBSO musicians, marking the beginning of the session by welcoming each resident individually. Instruments are then handed out to the group, so they get a chance to try whatever instrument they want. The conductor’s stick is always popular; it allows the holder a sense of leadership as they direct the musicians, and the music they create reveals a part of the person’s soul when you listen to it.


CBSO Cellist Jackie Tyler explains how they use music to connect with the group: “We encourage the residents each to instigate a rhythm or tune and, using our voices, some percussion and a few tuned instruments, we improvise to create a sound world. The workshop is all about nonverbal communication and human interaction, which we stimulate through music-making in a shared and incredibly supportive environment.”

he cognitive benefits of the CBSO project are astounding. For people with dementia, expressing themselves can be frustrating but playing music allows each individual to engage and connect emotionally; so a resident who may have been withdrawn is enabled to become more involved and outgoing during the sessions. Different parts of the brain are stimulated by playing and listening to music, which gives a boost to their mental health. Using their motor skills to play instruments also strengthens their cognitive coordination.

During the well-being sessions, I have observed the inspiring effect the music has on not only our residents but their family members too. Carers get the chance to sit opposite their relatives, which is wonderful because they can watch their faces light up when they are taking part, which in some cases might not have happened for a long time. One resident told me that she would come into the sessions feeling miserable, but would leave feeling happy.

When we all come together to make music the effect is magical, it’s pure alchemy.”