About Me

Mariko Hara I am originally from Ashiya in Japan and now live in Sørumsand, a bit outside Oslo in Norway. I am currently working as a freelancer on issues related to the use of music in community groups to help people with dementia and their carers. On this website you will find details on all my different projects and activities.

I have had a lifelong interest in music, as an occasional musician, listener and researcher. This has seen me go from piano lessons at the age of 6, via enjoying and sharing pop music with my friends, to playing bass guitar in a rock band at high school and ultimately lead me to decide to learn more about music and its role in society. This brought me to Manhattanville College, NY where I completed a BA in Music with a focus on music management, before returning to Japan to a full-time marketing position in an educational company. At the same time I also cared for my grandparents in a care home for the elderly. While looking after my grandmother who was a former church organist, but at this stage had dementia, I became involved in the community of the care home, and started musical activities with a colleague there. Through this I started developing an interest in music use in care situation and music therapy. 

In order to increase my knowledge and understanding of various qualitative aspects of music in care and music therapy, I decided to to do an MA in music therapy research at Kobe University. I completed the MA in 2006, the core data came from my ethnographic research on ‘musical orientation of the elderly in Japan’. That work focused on music therapy’s role in socio-cultural regulation. At the same time, in addition to my own activities in my grandmother’s care home, I was also involved with various community music projects, such as Ashiya community music therapy, and Oto Asobi. I then followed this up with a Ph.D. at the University of Exeter that was completed in early 2013. For this I did a long term study of community music use in dementia care in the UK and learnt a lot about solutions that are transferable to other contexts. My core data came from my involvement in the music and care community in the South West of England, in particular Singing for the Brain (see separate article on interviewing people with dementia ).

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