Music can be an inspiration tool, encouraging artistic and social interaction for those living with dementia helping to awaken emotions and memories; this Spring Turtle Song, a project for those living with dementia, will come to Liverpool, Oxford and London. This creative music-making project involves song writing, movement and singing and is spearheaded by Turtle Key Arts, the incredible organisation who seek to use arts to improve quality of life. In 2020 Turtle Key Arts reached an audience of 47,390 collaborating with 329 artists and involved over 1,350 participants.
Turtle Song participants meet once a week for ten weeks and, with the help of professional musicians and music students, write the lyrics and compose the music for their own song cycle, ending in a live performance for friends and family which is recorded as a DVD.
Turtle Song offers a positive outlook through an enjoyable and shared activity and gives the brain and body stimulating exercise. It also helps to enhance the professional development of the music students who take part in the project. Since the first Turtle Song at the Royal College of Music in London in 2008 it has been introduced in Cambridge, Wolverhampton, Dulwich, Hackney, Suffolk, Oxford, Stockton-on-Tees, Leeds, Norwich, Croydon, York, Reading, Newbury and Bishop Auckland: there are now on average three held each year.
Music can have many benefits in the setting of dementia. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language, and enhances quality of life as well as having a positive impact on carers. Music and emotion are linked in a powerful way; people respond to music from a very early age, before words and language are developed, and this continues even towards the end of our lives, when verbal abilities may be lost.
I cried silent tears of sorrow, of pride, of happiness, of loss, of admiration, of gratitude and more. Thank you for bringing joy to my mum, for accepting her just as she is and for making her truly happy. I have not seen her smile like that for a long time, today she was my beautiful, intelligent, kind & caring, fun loving mum again (From the daughter of a participant in Reading 2015).
Photo credit: Turtle Key Arts