Manchester Camerata is delighted to announce the re-launching of its vital and hugely successful dementia Music Cafe at its home, the Monastery in Gorton, during Dementia Action Week – starting today Monday May 16 and running to May 22.

These free, weekly music making sessions return on Wednesday 18 May and offer much needed support to those living with dementia, their families and carers, led by specially-trained, professional Camerata musicians and music therapists, and generously funded by McLay Dementia Trust.

As an orchestra whose dementia-music work is fundamental to its year round Community programme, these music therapy-based Music café sessions are at the very heart of Manchester Camerata’s commitment and intent to create and produce music that matters.

Due to the initial success of the music cafe in Gorton, Manchester Camerata has since launched a sister dementia music cafe in Wigan, at the Museum of Wigan Life. During these weekly meet-ups in both Wigan and Gorton, new songs and tunes are spontaneously created by the participants through improvised rhythms and songs, guided along the way by Camerata’s professional musicians and therapy team.

Whilst being joyful and moving in equal measure, the Café sessions also offer respite to families who might have little or no additional support, and provide a free, safe space in which to meet others in a similar situation. Partners and families of those living with dementia are shown by music therapists and camerata musicians how music can help to reconnect them to their loved ones, and how valuable music is when used as a common language when speech is sometimes no longer available.

Lizzie Hoskin, Head of Community at Manchester Camerata, says, “We’re so pleased to be able to relaunch our Music Café this month, in Dementia Action Week. As we saw first-hand when the cafes first began in both Gorton and in Wigan, these music-making sessions make such a positive impact on those living with dementia and also their carers.

Our musicians and community team are really looking forward to welcoming past and new friends to The Monastery, sharing a cup of tea and making music again in the amazing Great Nave – and even have a bit of a dance! We’re really proud to be able to make this Music Cafe possible with thanks to the generosity of the McLay Dementia Trust. It’s so exciting to see the positive impact our year-round Community program and life-enhancing dementia work is having.”

In addition to supporting Dementia Action Week, the Manchester Camerata is dedicated to enhancing and improving the lives of others all year round, through its many ongoing community projects – including its award-winning dementia-music programme, Music in Mind.

Launched over 10 years ago in partnership with the University of Manchester and Professor John Keady, its aim has always been to create ways in which music can be used as a tool to improve the physical and mental health of those living with dementia. Since its inception, this music-therapy-based work for people with dementia has been rolled out to care homes across Greater Manchester and an online version was created during lockdown to offer training and skills for staff who could then learn to run their own music sessions for care home residents.

The organization is now a sector global leader in its Music in Mind program and its musicians and therapists are called upon to travel and teach their skills to music and health care professionals both around the UK and internationally. Manchester Camerata has adapted its online training program to bring Music in Mind to Taiwan, by training healthcare professionals, music therapy students and musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra to the fundamental techniques of Music in Mind.

A musician-therapist team headed to Lundaland, Sweden to deliver sessions to residential care homes with musicians for Lundaland Philharmonic Orchestra. This dementia work – in addition to ongoing work the Camerata’s Music in Mind team deliver in local care homes in the Gorton and Greater Manchester area highlights how much music can affect positive change – and how committed Manchester Camerata is to redefine what an orchestra can do.

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