For all of us, music plays an important part in our identity, culture, upbringing and spiritual beliefs. Music is a powerful tool, which has the power to affect us profoundly. Playing an instrument, singing in a choir, playing in a band, or simply listening, are all ways that we can involve ourselves in music.
Music can help us to connect with ourselves and others and can be uplifting, relaxing, stimulating, or emotional. It can stimulate memories, encourage discussion and reminiscence and help facilitate communication with others.
With so many well-established benefits available to older people from the use of music, every care service should be making the most of this powerful tool. Read on to find out more about how you can harness the benefits of music within your service.
Professional music therapists use music to encourage improvements in emotional wellbeing and communication but are little-used in care settings for older people. However, as well as using music therapists, there are a number of other approaches that you can use to help your service users benefit from the power of music.
4 Tips to Improve the Quality of Life of Your Service Users through Music
- Music Therapy. Music therapists hold a Masters degree in music therapy and have a high level of musicianship and skill which can be used in either group, or individual sessions, to help their clients reach their goals. Further information about the use of music therapy, including access to a database of music therapists, can be found on the British Association of Music Therapists website.
- Personal Playlists. Help your service users develop personal playlists of their favourite music, including pieces that have been significant to their lives. The Playlist for Life project, developed at Glasgow Caledonian University, has already been highly successful in its work with people living with dementia. Further details can be found on www.playlistforlife.org.uk.
- Spotify. Many care homes still rely on collections of old CDs and records, many of which soon become damaged and often fail to reflect the individual tastes of service users. By using Spotify, or similar music streaming services, service users can be provided with instant access to over 30 million tracks – providing a huge range of opportunities to track down favourite songs and long lost tunes.
- Live Music. Live music remains one of the most popular and powerful ways of using music to improve people’s quality of life. However, making sure that the performers you provide are of suitable quality and interest to your service users is essential. Whenever you arrange for a performance for your service users, arrange for an ‘X Factor’ style review afterwards to find exactly how your audience rated the performer. If your residents offer the thumbs down, it’s time to look elsewhere!