Overview: Our Work
Across generations, music has life-changing potential.
For early years development, research shows us that learning music at an early age can fundamentally enhance our learning and development of language(s), speech, the delivery of phonetics, and literacy.
For those suffering with dementia or learning difficulties, music has dramatic, positive impacts on physical and mental well-being. For instance, music has great power to unlock memories and kickstart grey matter, reaching into parts of a damaged brain in ways other forms of communication cannot.
At the same time, research demonstrates the value of bringing older and younger generations together. For older generations, we can see this in combating isolation, depression and in improved mobility. While for younger generations, role models can be found to build confidence and self-esteem, to gain a sense of identity, and to develop social skills.
By bringing the generations together, our intergenerational music programmes strengthen the social bonds and communities that provide the vibrance to life that sustains us, boosting well-being for all those involved.
The importance of such work cannot be understated.
As people are living longer than ever before, the number of people with dementia is growing, and tragically there is no cure. Caring for people with dementia and learning difficulties is costly, both for the NHS and the families of those looking after their loved ones. But through our programmes, we help to alleviate some of the financial and emotional stress involved in doing so, and support the well-being of those living with dementia, learning difficulties and their carers.
In countries like Norway or Sweden, bringing the older and younger generations together like this is not a novel idea. Government support is readily available, and intergenerational activities are regularly promoted. Yet in the UK, little has been done to promote this kind of work. At The Music Project, this is what we hope to change.
Most of our projects follow a similar structure. We put a school or nursery in touch with a local care home or day centre and facilitate sessions revolving around music and dance. These normally take place over a six week period to fit with term-time schedules.
The younger and older generations learn songs together (depending on the physical and mental capabilities of the participants), and then at the end of the six week period, an assembly or tea party is hosted by the school taking part. Parents, family and friends all attend to hear the work the children and the day centre users or care home residents have done together and the relationships they’ve made.
We source musicians for all our sessions, providing different packages of live music and coaching for the participants in each of our projects at both schools and care homes. All our musicians are music teachers or professional musicians based in the local community, and they all have their own skill sets and specialisms, ranging from pianists, guitarists, singers, harpists, violinists and beyond, to band leaders and orchestra members.
We have also brought in guest speakers and historians (e.g. Pearly Queen of London, Doreen Golding, or historians from the Ragged Museum in London) to our tea parties and assemblies to further enrich the content and context of the music learnt in our sessions.