Older people and live music sessions


Older people would have grown up listening to live music, before the time of easy access to music through CDs, Mp3s and live streaming 24 hours a day.

Music would often have been enjoyed live and family members may have played or sung, so people would have enjoyed live music from childhood.  Growing up dances in community halls would have had live music, and many people would have met their life partners at these events.  Those who attended church would also have experienced live music and singing.  Live music can stimulate many memories in older people.  Music and memory are strongly linked, and important memories can be triggered when hearing a certain song or piece of music.  Memory for music can often last for people living with dementia after other memories have faded.  Different parts of the brain are used for speaking and singing, and some people living with dementia may be able to sing if they are no longer able to speak.


Today older people may enjoy watching people play and create music, they may have played instruments when they were younger and enjoy the opportunity to be musical again.  Creating music is enjoyable and empowering for many older people, who may not have much access to recorded or especially live music, or even being able to play an instrument.  It brings a specialness back and provides a bit of respite from the artificial sounds of todays world like the TV.

Live musical sessions enable older people to join in how they choose, playing instruments, moving to the music, singing or humming, or listening and watching, allowing them to participate and be creative in the moment depending on their mood or health during the session.


Live music with a harp therapist also means that it can be a very flexible form of therapy, Alice is able to change the type of music, speed and key to match the listeners mood or personality when she plays.  In a group session Alice adapts the activities to meet the strengths and difficulties of the players.

Music allows people to express themselves who are non verbal or have limited communication.

Interactive music sessions are enjoyable, interactive and highly effective therapy for older people.  Music is an important occupation for humans.  Music is a motivator, most people react to music through singing or moving and most people know some songs.

See videos of harp therapy around the world on our More Harp page.

Music gives people a voice, it gives people a way to communicate and can convey meaning beyond words. participating in group music sessions can develop self confidence and self esteem, allows emotions to be experienced, lets people be part of a group interacting with others, and gives the opportunity to learn something new.

Music session provide some physical activity and enable clients to use their co-ordination skills and fine and gross motor skills when playing the instruments or moving to the music.

Three senses are engaged.  Sound, sight and touch are all used while interacting with the instruments.  Harps are highly sensory instruments as the vibrations can be felt while touching the strings and through the sound box of the harp.  Playing an instrument provides proprioceptive (knowing where your body is in space) and tactile feedback.  My harps are lovely bright colours, the wood and strings are tactile, and there is no wrong note, anyone can produce a beautiful sound.

Participation in interactive harp sessions allows clients to demonstrate their capabilities, it allows access to make live music that may be difficult to access at other times, and the harps are forgiving instrument where everyone can succeed.

Contact Alice to find out more or to book a therapeutic harp session.