Music therapy for those living with dementia

Published: 2 August 2017 at 15:32

Music therapy session. Photo by Holly Cassidy

Together in Sound is new initiative run by Saffron Hall and Anglia Ruskin University

Following a successful pilot project earlier this year, Saffron Hall have teamed up with Anglia Ruskin University to launch a series of music therapy groups for people living with dementia and their carers.

Starting in October 2017 and running for ten weeks at the Salvation Army Hall in Saffron Walden, Together in Sound music therapy groups will bring the power of music to those living with dementia.

There will be opportunities to sing, play and listen to live music together, with weekly sessions led by music therapists from Anglia Ruskin University and visiting professional musicians from Saffron Hall. The free sessions will conclude with an informal sharing and celebration with friends and family toward the end of programme.

Saffron Hall is holding a taster session on Friday, 22 September at the Salvation Army Hall in Saffron Walden, for anyone interested in participating. The taster session is an opportunity to meet the Together in Sound team and decide together if the group is right for them.

Natalie Ellis, Director of Learning & Participation at Saffron Hall, said:

“Dementia is a disempowering and isolating condition that is on the increase.  With rates of dementia in Uttlesford forecast to rise by 80% by 2030, Together in Sound marks Saffron Hall’s long-term commitment to meeting social care challenges through innovative arts experiences. 

“Music has the profound ability to unlock memories, and can be an incredible source of joy and comfort for people living with dementia and those around them. Our new partnership with Anglia Ruskin University’s Music for Health Research Centre gives us a real opportunity to make a positive difference to many people who are affected by the disease.”

Claire Molyneux, Lecturer in Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University and Registered Music Therapist for Together in Sound, said:

“Research at Anglia Ruskin has shown the sustained benefits of a music therapy programme for people with dementia. Music therapy can help to break down the isolation often experienced by people living with dementia and their carers.

“Through providing opportunities for nonverbal communication, social interaction and engagement in creative experiences, we hope these music therapy groups will help to create a sense of belonging and community for participants.”

The taster session is only open to those living with dementia, and their carers, and numbers are limited. Saffron Hall expect the autumn groups to be oversubscribed, but will be running more groups in the spring.

Anyone interested in attending the taster session can access an information sheet and application form at: or by calling 01799 588545.

In addition to providing the first MA Music Therapy training in the UK, Anglia Ruskin University has become a world-leading centre for music therapy research, leading to the establishment of the Music for Health Research Centre in 2007.  More information is available here.