Conference presentations in May 2009

In May I will be giving two talks based on my ongoing fieldwork in South West region of the UK. The first will be on the 18th of May at the Music of changes: The concept of music-in-action seminar that the SocArts group at Exeter is arranging. My talk will give a brief summary of my fieldwork, with focus on the care and community aspects that I see as key to the community music I am researching. The title is Using music to create a caring community – Participant observation with ‘Singing for the Brain’. On the 27th May I will present a longer version of this paper at the annual postgraduate conference in HUSS.


Music is used in various care settings for older people as a means to promote health, and more specifically; to help with behavioral problems, to regulate emotions and as a means of socialization, bonding and/or re-bonding with others. The facilitators of these musical activities range from music therapists to (former) music teachers to community musicians. often supported/funded by charities or the NHS. A lot of research has been done to evaluate these music therapy sessions and activities. However, little research exist on how music can provide a medium in which identities are cast/recast in the music making process. This paper will present the initial results of my on-going participant observation research with a project called “Singing for the Brain” that involves people with Alzheimer’s and their carers. It is run by the Alzheimer’s Society and music is used to reconnect people with their past memories and to allow  people with Alzheimer’s and their carers to bond. I am investigating from a music sociology perspective how musical activities become social capital in the community;, are they beneficial for the carer; are stereotypes of older people constructed / challenged through the musical activities? And are the group-oriented musical activities linked with participants’ music in everyday life and/or their musical biography?

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