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Experiences with Music and Music Therapy

hunaid.nagaria

New member
May 26, 2022
3
0
Hello!

I'm a master's candidate from Imperial College London, hoping to design solutions for people living with dementia (PLWD), with a focus in designing meaningful activities around music and music therapy. I'm defining music therapy as a structured activity in which the PLWD is interacting with music in the presence of a certified music therapist, who is leading the session.

The direction I am in right now is investigating how can barriers for participation be reduced in music making and what kind of instruments would encourage people living with dementia (PLWD) to express themselves in a session with a music therapist. I am also considering if it would be more appropriate to focus on virtual music therapy and set that as a constraint on the project. I am also quite interested in how people engage with music in their homes independently.

It would be amazing if you could share your experiences with me that revolve around the following things:
  1. PLWD's relationship with music.
  2. Some challenges PLWD or their carers face when trying to engage with or play/listen to music. Any frustrations with existing music devices / apps in the market.
  3. Experiences / thoughts about music therapy, and what really worked, or was frustrating?
  4. Activities they/you engaged in with music in the background.
Any other thoughts around a frustration or need you might have observed when using devices that involve music would be really helpful.

Note: For people who take the time to share, I would like to assure you that no quotes or experiences will be reproduced directly and all information that informs my research will be anonymised.

Thanks in advance for you participation! :)
 
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KatyKat

Registered User
May 8, 2022
111
0
I'm not sure what you mean by music therapy exactly... My Mum has always played piano and still does occasionally, in spite of the dementia. I encourage her in this, as I feel that such activities, help to keep the brain active. Also, I take my laptop to her house every day and stream piano or other instrumental music from YouTube, so we have that as a background music continuously. Sometimes, Mum has commented on having a lovely day with "nice music" -- it really does help to soothe the savage in her.
 

hunaid.nagaria

New member
May 26, 2022
3
0
You might find this site interesting- playlistforlife.org.uk/about-us/
Thanks for sharing this @Izzy . I would love to know more about your experience if you have happened to create a playlist through PlaylistsForLife. Also, I am also curious to know how people identify what music is personal to their loved one, is it primarily based on experiences? To what extent is the PLWD involved in the process?
 

jennifer1967

Registered User
Mar 15, 2020
12,614
0
Southampton
my husband loves music on in the mornings now. didnt like it before and would have to turn it off. hes recognized that he relaxes so much with it that he does fall asleep so its accompanied by his snoring. it doesnt matter what kind of music although his favourite is country music but hes equally chilled with 70's disco or anything else that i like.
 

hunaid.nagaria

New member
May 26, 2022
3
0
I'm not sure what you mean by music therapy exactly... My Mum has always played piano and still does occasionally, in spite of the dementia. I encourage her in this, as I feel that such activities, help to keep the brain active. Also, I take my laptop to her house every day and stream piano or other instrumental music from YouTube, so we have that as a background music continuously. Sometimes, Mum has commented on having a lovely day with "nice music" -- it really does help to soothe the savage in her.
@KatyKat thank you for sharing. I have since edited my post to define music therapy as a structured activity in which the PLWD is interacting with music in the presence of a certified music therapist, who is leading the session.
Does your mother ever have any specific challenges when she's trying to play the piano? Do you think she would be open to playing a new or simpler instrument?
What do you think her thoughts would be on an activity or game that would be designed around music? Have you ever tried anything of this sort?
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
3,399
0
High Peak
I would have thought that music is more of a passive thing than an active one. Do people need a certified music therapist in order to appreciate it?

Perhaps it's just my experience but I watched the activities lady at mum's care home (who was pretty good) lead a couple of sessions: one was playing familiar songs whilst residents joined in with various percussion instruments. The other was a chair exercise session where residents moved arms and feet in time to the music. Both were woefully unsuccessful. I think getting a mixed group of people to do the same thing at the same time is always going to be tricky. Oh - and don't choose instruments that can be used as weapons or missiles...
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
18,843
0
South coast
Most use of music with people with dementia is to calm them and engage them. Music is stored in a different part of the brain to short-term memory, so even people with dementia who have very poor memory can still remember and join in with songs that they know from the past. When they are listening or singing songs this memory is clear, so their usual confusion (and therefore anxiety) is reduced. This does not require a trained music therapist.

The insistence of a trained musical therapist makes me think that this is not the use that @hunaid.nagaria is thinking of. I therefore googled Music Therapy and found this, which seems to be a good overview of what music therapy is about.
https://www.mi.edu/in-the-know/music-therapy-work/

What use are you thinking of implementing @hunaid.nagaria and what outcomes are you hoping for?
I must say, that I cant see anyone with dementia being able to follow any of these things.
 

Izzy

Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
67,167
0
71
Dundee
Thanks for sharing this @Izzy . I would love to know more about your experience if you have happened to create a playlist through PlaylistsForLife. Also, I am also curious to know how people identify what music is personal to their loved one, is it primarily based on experiences? To what extent is the PLWD involved in the process?

Give me a wee while and I’ll get back to you. I’m sure what you’re asking about will be addressed on the website but I’ll share my experience with you soon.
 

Dunroamin

Registered User
May 5, 2019
279
0
UK
Music therapy is all well and good providing the content is tailored to the individual. As a PWD I am appalled to think I would be expected to join in either singing for the brain or what most people seem to listen to on playlists for dementia. I tried dementia radio too and that is also a non starter for me. .. Some P'sWD are into alternative music, but it appears needs/likes are often forgotten by using a ''Benthamite approach. ' Please remember Chicane, Moby, Tiesto, PFM, Ferry Corsten, Deuter, Floyd, Bonammassa, Bowie and many more greats.

Music is so good for the soul , is mood dependent and can either calm or motivate me. My own playlists are made via Spotify although these days I need help to compile or update. I was classically trained and still have the odd foray into JSB and Lv.B on keyboard but sadly can no longer read music - or at least my brain cannot interpret for my fingers to follow. Writing is the same now, my pen does not follow my brains wishes.

( My
words, posted with help)
 

Izzy

Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
67,167
0
71
Dundee
Give me a wee while and I’ll get back to you. I’m sure what you’re asking about will be addressed on the website but I’ll share my experience with you soon.

@hunaid.nagaria - I may not have explained myself very well here but it’s an attempt to let you see what music and playlists for life meant to me and my late husband -

When I first heard of Playlist for life my husband’s dementia was well advanced. He was diagnosed in 2001 and died in 2016. I got involved with Playlist for Life Playlists in the last few years of his life.

This page from the Playlist for Life Website clarifies why I felt it was important to develop a playlist for my husband -

https://www.playlistforlife.org.uk/the-science/

By the time I started with this, my husband (Bill) was not able to work with me to develop the playlist. I think this approach works best when the person with dementia is still able to talk with the person making the playlist to choose the songs/music together. I had to rely on what I knew about my husband and I chose the music for his playlist by recalling events I knew were important to him and music which was related to these events. I knew that in times gone by the individual pieces of music would have sparked a conversation between us and would have evoked happy memories. Given the stage of Bill’s dementia this was not possible. I would say that the playlist I created for him evoked emotions and I think memories. Listening to some of the tracks he laughed and held my hand. Listening to other tracks he joined in and sang along heartily… other tracks resulted in tears running down his cheeks. I’m not in a position to tell you what all of that meant. I just know that the playlist gave us shared moments of joy. I listened to the tracks along with him using earphones for both of us and a splitter.

I’ve made my own Playlist for Life now. I have shared it with people who are important to me and they know that if I ever develop dementia then these are the songs and pieces of music that I think will spark memories in me and would help me to still relate to them.

Please read the information on the website. It will tell you more about how people are involved in creating their own playlists with their loved ones. My experience is bound to be different to others. Quote from Playlist for Life’s Facebook Page -

The soundtrack to your life isn't necessarily made up of your individual musical tastes — it's about the songs that give you that flashback feeling and evoke meaningful memories. 🎶


This clip is not from Playlist for Life but is one which inspired me in all of this.

 
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KatyKat

Registered User
May 8, 2022
111
0
@KatyKat thank you for sharing. I have since edited my post to define music therapy as a structured activity in which the PLWD is interacting with music in the presence of a certified music therapist, who is leading the session.
Does your mother ever have any specific challenges when she's trying to play the piano? Do you think she would be open to playing a new or simpler instrument?
What do you think her thoughts would be on an activity or game that would be designed around music? Have you ever tried anything of this sort?
Mum has early to middle stage dementia. I don't know how familiar you are with the disease and its course, but people who have it sometimes retain some abilities from childhood (such as piano lessons) and at the same time, show an inability/disinclination to learn new things. Mum is average in this respect -- says no to anything new I suggest. However, I think she might be open to a music trivia game, since that would draw on what she's already learnt.
 

MaNaAk

Registered User
Jun 19, 2016
7,961
0
Essex
Hello!

I'm a master's candidate from Imperial College London, hoping to design solutions for people living with dementia (PLWD), with a focus in designing meaningful activities around music and music therapy. I'm defining music therapy as a structured activity in which the PLWD is interacting with music in the presence of a certified music therapist, who is leading the session.

The direction I am in right now is investigating how can barriers for participation be reduced in music making and what kind of instruments would encourage people living with dementia (PLWD) to express themselves in a session with a music therapist. I am also considering if it would be more appropriate to focus on virtual music therapy and set that as a constraint on the project. I am also quite interested in how people engage with music in their homes independently.

It would be amazing if you could share your experiences with me that revolve around the following things:
  1. PLWD's relationship with music.
  2. Some challenges PLWD or their carers face when trying to engage with or play/listen to music. Any frustrations with existing music devices / apps in the market.
  3. Experiences / thoughts about music therapy, and what really worked, or was frustrating?
  4. Activities they/you engaged in with music in the background.
Any other thoughts around a frustration or need you might have observed when using devices that involve music would be really helpful.

Note: For people who take the time to share, I would like to assure you that no quotes or experiences will be reproduced directly and all information that informs my research will be anonymised.

Thanks in advance for you participation! :)
Hello @hunaid.nagaria,

I am a Piano and Violin Teacher who cared for her dad with Alzheimers. He passed away nearly three years but my music was good therapy for him. I used to play the Violin in his old care home and he would dance whilst others would sing. I used to play a variety of music ranging from classical to pop and traditional. However dad was from Malaysia and he used to love me playing Malay folk songs. Even with severe Alzheimers he looked like he was bursting with pride.

MaNaAk
 

nae sporran

Volunteer Host
Oct 29, 2014
9,148
0
Bristol
Sadly, she never actually got the chance to join in the sessions, but my partner had a visit from two people who were running music therapy style sessions for both carers and people with dementia. Even just seeing her conducting the trumpet player and playing the xylophone was refreshing and beautiful at a time when her final decline was starting.
Previous to the lockdowns and restrictions we used to go to music memories concerts where people were encouraged to play along with maracas or join in the singing and those mostly went down well, too.
 

Lawson58

Registered User
Aug 1, 2014
2,890
0
Victoria, Australia
My husband has an appalling passion for country music and still listens to it to help him get to sleep. He has a pile of CDs with only a few being anything else. He still finds it too on YouTube and will have that on at the same time as the TV is on which drives me bonkers.

My sister in law was a well known operatic singer and until her Alzheimer’s deteriorated she would ’entertain’ the residents of her care home with her playing all sorts of music and trying to get others to join in songs.

I can’t quite believe that even with her expertise at the piano that she would have been remotely interested in learning a new instrument. Her daughter played clarinet but all she wanted to do was to accompany her on the piano.

I believe that music for people with dementia is resource for tapping into memories that will resonate with an event and the emotions that go with them.
 

Newanne

Registered User
May 1, 2010
55
0
clitheroe
Both my husband (plwd) have played I brass band for 40y +. I had to leave this year for various reasons. He however has continued. At the moment the band are only playing music they have played before so he's managing ok. However the thing he struggles with are repeats etc. Written instruction seen to be very difficult for him. Don't know how long he'll be able to continue, (the conductor is getting very frustrated with him)
 

WJG

Registered User
Sep 13, 2020
123
0
I have early stage Alzheimer’s and have used my own self devised programme of music therapy to help me, I have always painted and drawn, but I lost the desire to do this - probably because of atrophy to my right parietal lobe. I knew that music was meant to be therapeutic, especially the music of one’s youth. So using a smart speaker I listened to a diet of Beatles and Stones for a week - and, somewhat to my surprise, started drawing again. For a time I needed music to be on to keep me drawing, but that phase is now passed.