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Project information

With Music in Mind

For people with memory loss listening to or engaging in music can relieve stress, allowing them to relax, ground themselves and develop coping strategies. It alleviates stress and creates space for thoughts to settle, improving well-being. Memory cafes provide this platform for our older citizens.

February 2017 - December 2017

Charity information: Ulster Orchestra Society Ltd.

Ulster Orchestra Society Ltd. logo
  • Need


    We are aware that older citizens with memory loss lack access to safe places where they and their carers can engage in activities together. Barriers to participation such as cost, access and safety are cited and this project will address these factors in to ensure the best possible experience for our participants. Working with Alzheimers UK, our staff and players have been trained in supporting those with memory loss, and have undertaken 'Dementia Friendly' training.


    Low mood is often associated with Alzheimers sufferers and in the right context music can lift mood, relieve stress induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function & coordinate motor movements. Music connects us to important events in our past & can evoke memories, as rhythmic & other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing. 'One lady who walks around a lot stayed for the whole (UO) session & shouted, 'That was wonderful!''

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To support the Singing for the Brain choirs & Memory Cafes for people with dementia & their carers


    » To support 12 Memory Cafes and Singing for the Brain choirs - 6 in Belfast and 6 in Derry.
    » To invite all Memory Café & Singing for the Brain attendees to a Tea Dance towards Christmas 2017 utilising all of the music and memories gathered.

    What success will look like

    We will judge success by the increased mood and participation by the older citizens and their carers. Feedback will be collected from participants, co-ordinators and carers.

  • Impact


    Long term, this project will raise awareness of the need to provide safe spaces for those suffering memory loss. It will provide opportunities to increase the quality of life and ease stress. For carers, it will provide a shared space to enjoy some time with a loved one with the potential to evoke emotional closeness through music, which is elusive due to the condition. We will demonstrate this by implementing an action based learning model and evaluation, including longitudinal studies.


    The main risk associated with this project is accessibility. We intend to provide transport to the venues for the older citizens and their carers to mitigate against this.

    The activity will be delivered in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society so that it is engaging, relevant and adheres to the relevant guidelines pertaining to health and safety and working with adults at risk.


    We will provide a quarterly report to write to our donors on the efficacy of the project and include feedback from participants. At the end a final evaluation report will be circulated.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £50,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £7,000 Transport To cafes and tea dance
      £7,000 Venue costs required at cafes and tea dance
      £8,000 Music costs Music arrangement, recording
      £23,000 Staff costs Support, admin and musicians
      £5,000 Training and evaluation Evaluation and on-going training
  • Background


    It is intended to locate Memory Cafes and Singing for the Brain groups in Belfast and Derry~Londonderry.


    Anticipated participants in the Memory Cafes and Singing for the Brain groups are 240 and approximately 240 carers. Tea dances will include participants, carers and care workers (where appropriate). The total number is approximately 750.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are best placed to carry this out because we have previously carried out similar activities to great success and with very positive feedback. Our Orchestra Leader, Tamás Kocsis, has also led workshops previously in this specific field. All of this learning that has been gained will be carried into this project. The Orchestra is keen to build on existing experience and provide this service for our older citizens.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Lucy McCullough

    Director of Community, Learning and Engagement

    Mairead Sullivan

    Project Manager