The Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Music and Memory pilot program– which saw orchestral musicians perform live music for people with dementia – has delivered a number of positive impacts, the orchestra has announced. The program, which launched in July in partnership with Goodwin Aged Care Services and ActewAGL, attempted to measure positive behavioural changes linked to concert experiences over the program’s eight-week duration for a study group at Goodwin House in Ainslie.

Canberra Symphony Orchestra bassoonist and audiologist Kristen Sutcliffe. Photo © Martin Ollman

The Music and Memory program was developed by Heather Roche, a third-year Psychology student at the University of Canberra, with oversight from CSO bassoonist and audiologist Kristen Sutcliffe, and saw the participants themselves take a hand in choosing the music performed.

The CSO has now reported that over the eight weeks of the program – which saw concerts inspire moments of singing and dancing across the group and the recollection of fond memories – a statistically significant reduction in disruptive behaviours was observed, along with anecdotally observed improvements in mood and increased social...

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