While the music lasts: on music and dementia

Rineke Smilde, Kate Page, Peter Alheit

Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic

Abstract

This book has been written for musicians who want to engage with audiences beyond the concert hall and other traditional venues. The study is equally worthwhile for conservatoires and music academies aiming to change the increasingly unrealistic goal of training young musicians solely for the stage. When taking the changing music profession and its market opportunities seriously, higher music education institutions can become aware of creative opportunities for establishing professional music practices in areas in society that are remote from concert halls and big festivals, from public media and stardom, and instead look for settings which reach out to various kinds of audiences. This does not mean, of course, that the results presented here wish to diminish the wonderful gift of being an accomplished soloist or chamber musician, but they would like to show that the role of music can be exhaustive, where artistic connection can bring about strong communication between people. Music can make a difference and be deeply influential, especially in social fields of illness and suffering, weakness and depression. ‘Music and dementia’ is the challenging topic of this book. It is not about educational suggestions to care staff to sing well-known children's songs in care homes for residents with dementia, just to lift the mood. Through engaging in music as a participatory process, its goal is to make the person behind the dementia visible again. The project presented in this study not only shows that this idea can be realised for people with dementia and their caregivers, but it has also opened up learning processes for the musicians involved which nobody would have expected before, nurturing their professional lives and development. The project has changed their understanding of the place of music in people’s lives; it has touched their personality and stimulated deep reflections about their identity. This positive effect should benefit young musicians in their music education.
However, musicians are not the only target group. The discoveries of the study are also helpful and inspiring for caregivers of people with dementia and for families of a loved one living with dementia.
The book explores the interaction between music and dementia through the stories of people who have been working closely together: three musicians, eight women living with dementia, five caregivers, a staff development practitioner, a project coordinator and three scientific observers. The result is a book in which all of them have participated in their own way. It consists of field observations, reflective journals, conversations, interviews and careful scientific analyses. If it can be read by many people at a profit, the project has worked. There will be, in the words of Clifford Geertz, a 'thick description' of a new friendship between music and dementia, a story about a fascinating practice that will stimulate and bolster committed people.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEburon
Number of pages333
ISBN (Print)978-90-5972-846-2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • music
  • dementia

Cite this

Smilde, R., Page, K., & Alheit, P. (2014). While the music lasts: on music and dementia. Eburon.
Smilde, Rineke ; Page, Kate ; Alheit, Peter. / While the music lasts : on music and dementia. Eburon, 2014. 333 p.
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Smilde, R, Page, K & Alheit, P 2014, While the music lasts: on music and dementia. Eburon.

While the music lasts : on music and dementia. / Smilde, Rineke; Page, Kate; Alheit, Peter.

Eburon, 2014. 333 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic

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AB - This book has been written for musicians who want to engage with audiences beyond the concert hall and other traditional venues. The study is equally worthwhile for conservatoires and music academies aiming to change the increasingly unrealistic goal of training young musicians solely for the stage. When taking the changing music profession and its market opportunities seriously, higher music education institutions can become aware of creative opportunities for establishing professional music practices in areas in society that are remote from concert halls and big festivals, from public media and stardom, and instead look for settings which reach out to various kinds of audiences. This does not mean, of course, that the results presented here wish to diminish the wonderful gift of being an accomplished soloist or chamber musician, but they would like to show that the role of music can be exhaustive, where artistic connection can bring about strong communication between people. Music can make a difference and be deeply influential, especially in social fields of illness and suffering, weakness and depression. ‘Music and dementia’ is the challenging topic of this book. It is not about educational suggestions to care staff to sing well-known children's songs in care homes for residents with dementia, just to lift the mood. Through engaging in music as a participatory process, its goal is to make the person behind the dementia visible again. The project presented in this study not only shows that this idea can be realised for people with dementia and their caregivers, but it has also opened up learning processes for the musicians involved which nobody would have expected before, nurturing their professional lives and development. The project has changed their understanding of the place of music in people’s lives; it has touched their personality and stimulated deep reflections about their identity. This positive effect should benefit young musicians in their music education. However, musicians are not the only target group. The discoveries of the study are also helpful and inspiring for caregivers of people with dementia and for families of a loved one living with dementia. The book explores the interaction between music and dementia through the stories of people who have been working closely together: three musicians, eight women living with dementia, five caregivers, a staff development practitioner, a project coordinator and three scientific observers. The result is a book in which all of them have participated in their own way. It consists of field observations, reflective journals, conversations, interviews and careful scientific analyses. If it can be read by many people at a profit, the project has worked. There will be, in the words of Clifford Geertz, a 'thick description' of a new friendship between music and dementia, a story about a fascinating practice that will stimulate and bolster committed people.

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Smilde R, Page K, Alheit P. While the music lasts: on music and dementia. Eburon, 2014. 333 p.