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25th November, 2020

Guildhall School & Age UK Camden partner on musical befriending service ‘Music Bank’

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Bringing music to isolated people living with dementia during lockdown.

Musicians from Guildhall School of Music & Drama have partnered with Age UK Camden to bring music to isolated people living with dementia during the winter months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and lockdown rules heighten.

With 1.4 million chronically lonely older people in England and many also struggling with social isolation, ‘Music Bank’ sees twelve students, staff and alumni of Guildhall School being matched with twelve Age UK Camden clients to deliver a musical befriending service, playing music requested by the clients as well as getting to know them through conversation.

Sean Gregory, Director of Innovation & Engagement, Guildhall School of Music & Drama & Barbican says:

We are very excited to be launching ‘Music Bank’ in partnership with Age UK Camden. Conversation and friendship sit at the heart of this important project, a collaboration that brings together an extraordinary programme of musical styles and influences. Technology, innovation and live performance working in perfect harmony!’

Nikki Morris, Chief Executive of Age UK Camden says

We are delighted to be involved with this wonderful project and that some of our isolated members living with dementia will benefit from the joys of music and friendship over the challenging months ahead. Isolation can be damaging to both physical and mental health and this is a fantastic way to counter that. A big thank you to those giving generously of their time and talent.’

Clients have been asked to list a mix of genres as well as one or two musicians they like as requests, from which Guildhall School musicians will play during the calls. Repertoire that has been selected includes: reggae and calypso; traditional Scottish music; musical theatre; Krishna low flute music; classical music; and hymns. Some of the musicians suggested includes: Pink Floyd; Shirley Bassey; Stevie Wonder; Mozart; Maria Callas; Frank Sinatra; and Frankie Vaughan.

The students, staff and alumni taking part are: John Morcom, Jack Hudson, Caroline Breman, Nicola Demosthenous, Catherine Price, Joana Praca, Lise Vandersmissen, Ann Sloboda, Claire Habbershaw, Helena Ricci, Kirsty McLean, and Fiona-Jane Weston. All musicians will receive training and coaching from Age UK Camden prior to performing.

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