BBC Music Day 2018 – the annual celebration of the power of music to change lives – today announces the launch of BBC Music Memories, a new website featuring music designed to trigger memories in people with dementia.
BBC Music Memories is inspired by an ever-growing body of research on the beneficial effects of music in helping those with dementia. The use of music is increasingly being used in dementia care as it has been shown to reach parts of the damaged brain in ways other forms of communication cannot. Users can create their own playlist and are invited to share their top tunes to help others and to find the nation’s favourite musical memories.
Working with music and dementia charity, Playlist for Life, BBC Music Memories is being supported by leading dementia organisations including Alzheimer’s Society, Alzheimer Scotland, Dementia UK and Carers UK. They are encouraging their many members to visit this new website to try out music memories for themselves.
Rebecca Sandiford, Commissioner of BBC Music Day, says: “BBC Music Day is about the power of music. BBC Music Memories is designed to tap into that power to help those with dementia reconnect with the music they have loved, share their memories, and help us discover the nation’s favourite music memories.”
Peter Rippon, Executive Editor, Archive, says: “With BBC Music Memories featuring tracks from 1920 to 2017 there’s something for everyone. The site hopes to encourage inter-generational use so people of different ages can use the resource together to listen and talk about their own memorable music and the thoughts it triggers. And through users making and sharing their own playlists we aim to build a shared database to create a unique resource to help others with dementia.”
Tim McLachlan, Operations Director – Local Services at Alzheimer’s Society, says: “It’s exciting that the BBC are launching BBC Music Memories. From talking to people with dementia we know the positive effect music can have, helping people at all points on their dementia journey, which is why our many support services include Singing for the Brain groups. In latter stages, some people who may no longer be able to communicate much or at all through language can be transformed when they hear a song they recognise – joining in singing and/or dancing along. This is going to be a fantastic online tool to trigger music memories for those with dementia.”
Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody is the Ambassador for Music Memories and in support of the launch of the website, has authored a special film on music and dementia for The One Show. To be broadcast tonight (28 Sept), in it he talks movingly about his father’s dementia – which was the inspiration for his song, Soon.
Gary Lightbody says: “Music changed my life. It’s been my whole life. I started the band when I was 18 so my whole adult life music has been both my passion and my job. It is the most powerful international language. It can break you and mend you sometimes in the span of a single song. My dad has dementia and anything that throws a light on the disease and helps in any way to reconnect people with their lost memories is something I want to be involved in.”
Also as part of this year’s BBC Music Day, a special episode of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor was be broadcast on BBC Two (Weds, 26 Sept, 8pm). Presenters Michael Mosley and his team of doctors looked into what people living with dementia can do to improve their health and discovered how music, singing, exercise, diet and social interaction can help. The programme also found out how group singing releases chemicals that can give us a natural high, teaming up with the Derbyshire Rock Choir and experts at the University of Nottingham to find out more; and he found out how music and singing might help women with post-natal depression. Now available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Michael Mosely, presenter of Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, said: “Most of us would agree that music has the power to lift our spirits and make us feel good, but for me as a medical journalist what’s really exciting is the growing body of research proving that music and singing can have tangible health benefits. One of the most intriguing areas of research is music therapy for dementia, something that we explore in a special music themed episode of Trust Me, I’m A Doctor. As well as rekindling old memories, evidence suggests it can reduce depression and help to preserve speech and language. Our programme also looks at new research on how group singing can speed up recovery from postnatal depression, and shows for the first time that it can boost feel-good chemicals that have been linked to lowering anxiety and stress. Music, it would seem, is sometimes the best medicine!”
BBC Music Memories contains snippets of around 1800 musical tracks, including the most popular songs from the last 100 years, TV and Radio theme tunes, and the most popular pieces from twenty classical composers. By browsing for tracks by decade and genre, the site aims to help users find their most powerful musical memories and create and share their own personalised playlist. And through this initiative, the BBC hopes to build a bank of the nation’s favourite musical memories.
Most of us make lots of strong memories when we are younger so users could start by looking for tracks from their earlier years. Their playlist can be printed out, and people can also opt to share it via a simple survey – inputting some basic information about their year of birth, gender and where they grew up – which could then help others with dementia. Sharing favourite tracks in this way will help researchers recommend tunes that could bring back memories for other people with a similar background who have developed dementia or other brain conditions. The data supplied will be anonymous and will be shared with researchers into music and dementia.
BBC Music Memories is incredibly simple to use on any digital device (PC, tablet or smart phone). It will have a simple user guide along with helpful links to further dementia support resources. It joins the other dementia support tools developed by the BBC, including the award-winning BBC Reminiscence Archive and Your Memories.
BBC Music Day is an annual celebration of the power of music to change lives. This pan-BBC initiative across television, radio and online features live music events and performances across the UK involving famous musicians, choirs and local community music groups.
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