A dementia-friendly music café

£17,948 funding awarded

Funding awarded to Orchestra of the Swan enabled them to deliver a new and exciting dementia friendly monthly musical workshop at the Play House, Stratford. Café Muse, is an opportunity for people affected by dementia (including carers and/or family members) to meet and take part in fun, relaxed and friendly interactive music workshops. 

Led and delivered by fully trained professional musicians, the project explores music from many different genres and cultures that everyone can enjoy, regardless of music preferences, incorporating pieces that are familiar, whilst encouraging conversation with the sharing of life experiences and stories from the past. Participants have the opportunity to explore the sounds of musical instruments; learn or rediscover a new musical skill; participate in composition and improvisation sessions to enjoy well known songs and music; create new friendships and social interactions.

Thoughts on Café Muse from A – a Carer for her daughter, who is living with Alzheimer’s.

We went along to one dementia group previously, it felt dreary and not quite right for us - we wanted music, and people who were going to be positive and upbeat, and the sessions to be something which could be engaged with, something we have found in attending Café Muse in Stratford.

As a carer, everything is quite stressful at times, caring for S, but knowing there are sessions we can look forward to every month really helps, they really keep me going. Initially, I was going to send S by herself, but I felt that it might be something that I would also enjoy. The inclusion for everyone, and having understanding people running the sessions really matters, and makes a difference for us. I can relax in the knowledge that whatever mood S is in, whether she is feeling talkative or just wants to sit quietly or even get up and dance, she will get a lot out of it, and doesn’t have to be anything but herself, it doesn’t matter. And ultimately, it is somewhere for me to relax, not just for S, we all seem to benefit from it – it always really lifts me.

The coffee and lunch aspect is also really beneficial, having a sociable environment with other lovely people, who are all so positive, as well as the musicians, is such a lovely place to be – we can all relax for the whole session.

The quality of the music played at Café Muse is something that has really struck me, with the wonderful musicians who really make the sessions for us – it is the people who make the sessions special. It is the only thing we all do together and enjoy together, and I come away from it feeling inspired, the music is stimulating, and the variety of music played is wonderful, you start recalling pieces you haven’t heard in years.