Oak Tree Music’s Vicky Thornton is not only a superb session singer but also the proud franchisee of Musical Moments Stoke, Crewe & Nantwich – an organisation dedicated to delivering inclusive music therapy-based sessions in care homes and community groups. We asked Vicky to tell us more about her work and the powerful effects of music on elderly and memory-impaired audiences…
“Musical Moments was established in the North West in 2011 and provides award-winning, interactive music sessions in care and community settings for the elderly and people with additional needs.
We specialise in working with people who live with dementia and we find that this particular group of people responds incredibly well to our music sessions. The model was franchised at the end of 2017 and we now have twelve Musical Moments franchises operating across the UK. I am the proud owner of Musical Moments Stoke, Crewe & Nantwich and I’m also one of the original team members from before the franchise network was established.
Our sessions are carefully planned to comprise of therapeutic and stimulating activities that enhance cognitive and communicative skills amongst participants. All activities are set to a mix of live and recorded music from the 1940s to the present day, and also provide the opportunity for individuals to get involved with music-making themselves. Activities are singing-based and use a range of props, instruments and gentle seated exercises for a multi-sensory experience. These musical activities encourage participants to reminisce, converse and communicate with each other, unlocking long-lost memories and experiences, which miraculously seem to be refreshed when a certain song is played. At times, we also work one-to-one with people who are on end-of-life care or who are unable to join in group sessions due to poor health.
It’s such a rewarding job to see the joy on someone’s face when they remember the words to a song they’ve not heard for decades. To see a relative shed a tear at the surprise of their loved one’s alertness and ability to interact musically. For some participants – in the later stages of dementia in particular – the ability to communicate verbally becomes greatly impaired. Our music sessions help to break down this communication barrier and we often find that participants begin to talk or find creative ways of conversing during the session – copying rhythmic patterns on percussion instruments, for example.
Music certainly is the way forward when it comes to promoting our mental and physical well-being, regardless of age or ability.”