PhD: We’ll meet again : Music in dementia care

I am currently doing a PhD in music sociology at Exeter University with Tia DeNora. Here I work as a part of SocArts, an international group of cross-disciplinary researchers working on music use in many areas of everyday life.

Following my MA in Kobe and many years of experience in community music making projects I wanted to understand better the problems and possibilities of music use in therapeutic settings with people who have dementia and their carers. Because of a lack of empirical research that focus on the users and their musical preferences and experiences there is a need for in-depth research that can contribute to a better understanding and thus a better experience for users of music therapy and related activities. In addition I want to explore at the local level how music activities run by charities and volunteer groups and music therapy together form a music and care community.


I have finished the participant observation and interview study (see separate article on interviewing people with dementia) with a group called “Singing for the Brain” in the South West region of the UK, this took place in 2009 and 2010. Singing for the Brain is a group that caters to local people with dementia and their carers through collaborative music making. Preliminary findings from the study can be found in an article for Voices, and my methods are discussed in Music and Arts in Action. I also hope to publish my findings also outside the academic world to help develop the rapidly growing (due to the changing demographics of the industrialised world) field of music use in dementia care.

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