As millions of people are encouraged to carry out and reflect on an act of kindness this Mental Health Awareness Week, we are discovering that the number of people offering digital music sessions has doubled since lockdown began.
Many of these services are performed out of goodwill, truly embodying the spirit of the message from The Mental Health Foundation this year.
On our Musical Map, the events and services listed have increased by 50%. From live streamed performances in care homes, to virtual choirs and “dementia discos”, many of the individuals and organisations hosting virtual events are doing so despite financial hardship and worry due to cancelled live events.
Grace Meadows, Campaign Director at Music for Dementia, comments: “We know that music plays a valuable role in supporting our mental health and wellbeing, and this is just as important as taking care of our physical health. Being socially connected is fundamental to maintaining and sustaining our mental wellbeing.
“Those living with dementia and their carers are experiencing increased social isolation right now and, more than ever, we need to be using the power of music to be connecting with them.”
Among the 41 new events listed on the Musical Map is the Forget-Me-Not Chorus, an organisation that supports people with dementia and their families through weekly singing sessions. Since the current health crisis began, the Forget-Me-Not team have adapted their approach, recording a series of virtual rehearsals and connecting with those most isolated by sending personalised and requested performances.
Kate Woolveridge, Artistic Director at Forget-Me-Not Chorus, explains: “We have been determined to stay in touch with our Forget-me-not family in the community, care homes and hospitals. At this time, more than ever, we need to assure them that they are not forgotten. The weekly virtual singing sessions keep us connected, our choristers supported and offer a musical hug.”
Anne Moffat has been attending the Forget-Me-Not Chorus online sessions with her mum since lockdown began. She says: “Whilst mum’s world was already shrinking because of dementia, the lockdown has accelerated things as we all stay at home. Her catch-ups with her friends and the people she knows at her weekly groups have halted. The online music rehearsals fix that feeling of being adrift.”