Wigan dementia patients' musical therapy

A music cafe for people living with dementia and their carers will be bringing dance, melody and spontaneity to Wigan when it opens next week.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 11th November 2021, 4:06 pm
Camerata musicians at work

Created by Manchester Camerata, Soul Time is a chance to discuss and create music in a social and imaginative environment, offering attendees a departure from the sometimes isolating nature of the condition.

It’s named after a track by American soul artist Shirley Ellis and doffs its cap to Wigan’s Northern Soul musical heritage.

The project started a few years ago, supported by Wigan Council Memory Services and designed for people with early onset dementia.

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Having been halted during lockdown, the new post-pandemic iteration of the venture will be for people at all stages of their dementia journey, along with their carers and families.

Run by professionals, a specially trained music therapist mans the keyboard while a musician from Wigan, Ryan Breen, plays tuba. Attendees are able to then join in as and when they wish, in a kind of controlled chaos musical free-for-all that emphasises interactivity and improvisation.

Camerata head of community Lizzie Hoskin said: “We’re not playing at them at all, they’re playing with us.”

Founded on the concept of the Camerata’s successful music cafe in Gorton, Manchester, the sessions will include musical discussions where participants sit in a circle and recall experiences of favourite gigs or songs.

While various research studies have emphasised the memory-triggering powers of music for people living with dementia, Lizzie says that this venture is not primarily reminiscence-based, although the discussions will contain a reflective element.

She said: “Everyone’s used to seeing a beautiful film of a woman in a care home dancing to a piece of music she once loved. Our music based therapy methods are in the moment.

“This is about making new music whilst also talking about that which we once loved.” The project is also inspired by research carried over a long-term collaboration with the University of Manchester, which has informed a methodology they call Music in Mind.

The first session is on Monday November 15 on the first floor of The Galleries in Wigan town centre. If interested, email Lizzie Hoskin on [email protected]

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