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Live Music Performance for People with Dementia

posted 30 Sept 2015, 12:12 by Nikola Kyosev   [ updated 30 Sept 2015, 12:18 ]

Without understanding music theory,

We can appreciate music as pleasure or art.

Without knowing, we Dance.

Without understanding, we Sing.

Without learning, we Know. “

John M Ortiz from "The Tao of Music"


It has been more than 5 years since I joined the ranks of Live Music Now! Scotland. Together with the brilliant pianist Silviya Mihaylova, we have played concerts for LMN in various types of venues – concert halls, schools, homes for elderly people and more. But what I love about those concerts is the connection that I feel with whoever my audience is. It makes me feel like I am bard, getting out of the classical idea for a concert hall (don’t get me wrong, I love performing in every setting) and having this more “primal” connection with the audience. It makes me feel like I am not a classical, but rather a folk musician.

However, I am not going to speak more about the performing side of being a musician for Live Music Now, but for something else. One of the great many strengths of LMN is the training opportunities that it provides for all musicians, it is rare to see people so dedicated to their work as all the administration in the organisation.

I would like to dedicate this post to one of my trainings that we recently had, it was about performing music to people suffering from dementia, led by Diana Kerr.

Up to now I have had quite a few trainings on this topic, but I must say by far this was the best one ever. It will be difficult to find a person that is equally as capable of talking about the subject as Diana Kerr. Not only we gained theoretical and practical knowledge about dementia – how it develops, how it affects our bodies, but it was the way that she managed to charm all of the present people. Truly a magnificent speaker.

If you are a musical therapist or a musician working with elderly people, I would strongly recommend attending a talk of Diana Kerr, or if that is not possible have a look at her book – “Singing Groups for people with Dementia”.  It was recently published (on 26 June, 2015), so it is easy to find it. Although it is more oriented at singing (as the title clearly states), there are many practical advices that can be taken into account from any musician.

If you found this post interesting and you have some more questions, please leave a comment in the box below and I will be happy to answer. 

Best wishes,

Find out more about Diana Kerr, here!