BAFTA award winning actress Vicky McClure meets scientists exploring pioneering techniques and cutting edge scanning technology in order to reveal how music can stimulate a brain damaged by dementia. To find out more, visit the BBC programme page.
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Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure
Discover the extent of music’s ability to combat dementia, as Vicky forms a choir of people all living with dementia.
Available on BBC iPlayerBBC One on Thursday
9th May 2019 at 8:00PM
Vicky and her mum cared for Vicky’s grandmother through her dementia and saw first-hand how singing and music calmed her. Now, she’s joining forces with some of the country’s leading experts measure the emotional and physical responses of Vicky's choir, as they prepare to put on a major performance.
Vicky starts the search for choir members, meeting people with different types of dementia and at different stages. One of the first to join is former woodwork teacher Chris, whose frontotemperal dementia is leading to increasingly disinhibited behaviour. The youngest member is 31 year old Dan (pictured right) who was diagnosed with a rare form of genetic Alzheimer’s two years ago. Dan’s father died at 36, though at the time no one realised why. There’s a risk that Dan’s young twins will have inherited the faulty gene and Dan seizes the opportunity to take part in a cutting-edge experiment hoping it will help find a cure in the future.
Vicky sets out to see the impact of music on people in the later stages of dementia when she visits a care home offering exemplary music therapy and sees how their unique approach is benefiting the people there. Four choir members take part in a world first when they are scanned at the University of Nottingham to see how the different parts of their brains communicate when listening to music despite the damage caused by their dementia. The three month scientific study to see whether singing in the choir has any measurable physiological effect on them comes to an end.
Vicky announces that in a matter of weeks they are going to perform at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham in front of an audience of 2,000 people. However, it’s not long before the very real challenges faced daily by the choir threaten to derail the entire project as members struggle to learn the new songs. With Vicky and choir master Mark De-Lisser driving them forward, can they pull it off?
In an exclusive interview, Vicky McClure discusses her personal experience with dementia and what she hopes people watching will take away from the series:
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Dr Geraldine Boyle
Geraldine is a Senior Lecturer (Health) in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care. She is a member of the National Mental Capacity Forum and the Socio-Legal Studies Association and is also an Editor for the journal: Health and Social Care in the Community.
She is currently undertaking qualitative research on the wellbeing of young adult carers.
Dr Terence Curran
Terence joined the Open University in 2009 as an Associate Lecturer, teaching on the MA in Music and undergraduate modules in the arts and humanities, and is also an Honorary Associate in Music.
His early career was spent working as a performer and instrumental tutor but he has also worked in music publishing, the recording industry, broadcasting, and arts management.