Wye Valley Music in Mind

(For details of the Music Memory Café, click here.)
  • What We Do: Bring live interactive music to people living with dementia. We work with young musicians, both current students and recent graduates, providing them with dementia-training and, where appropriate, pairing them with an experienced music therapist. We can offer individual music therapy sessions and ‘training the carers’ workshops. We also provide dementia-training for our volunteers, helping to build dementia-friendly communities across the Lower Wye Valley.
  • Why We Do It: In recent years, a growing body of research has identified the positive effect music can have on people living with dementia. Three separate studies, conducted between 2017–2019, found evidence of multiple specific benefits of music therapy to those living with dementia, even to the extent of reducing the need for antipsychotic drug treatments and hospital stays. In response, 2020 saw the start of a new national campaign led by the charity Music for Dementia. They issued a challenge to organisations at every level, from government departments to healthcare providers to arts companies, large or small: to make music an everyday part of dementia care, from diagnosis through to end of life and with economic status no barrier to provision. Wye Valley Music in Mind intends to rise to this challenge.
    Moreover, in working with young musicians, providing them with training and vital early work experience, we hope to build a lasting legacy for our programme. We are very grateful to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the University of South Wales for the support they have given us and we look forward to building closer ties with them in the future.

  • Pilot-scheme, 2021: We launched our pilot-scheme in August/September 2021, in partnership with Severn View Local Authority Care Home, Chepstow. We provided a programme of three interactive music sessions for residents and a music therapy workshop for care home staff. Wye Valley Music received generous private sponsorship to help fund this scheme. (See below for more information about the pilot-scheme.)  

  • Projects for 2022: We are now running monthly interactive music sessions at Severn View Care Home for residents and carers. We have also launched a monthly Music Memory Café at the St Briavels Assembly Rooms, for anyone concerned about memory loss or living with a diagnosis of dementia, along with their family members and carers; the Café features live music, sing-alongs and seated dancing, as well as a resources desk supplying information about dementia support in the area. We are currently working with six young musicians and we are coordinating with Gloucestershire-based charity Mindsong, to provide them with dementia-awareness training and advanced interactive performance skills; this training will culminate in a therapist-led workshop at Severn View in Summer 2022. These projects have been funded by local grants and private sponsorhip and we have sufficient monies in hand to carry us through to the end of 2022.
    For more details about the Music Memory Café, click here.

Individuals and organisations with whom we are working in 2022:
Olivia Dance - piano
Nikkila Thomas - singer
Cerys Rees - harp
Sarah Waycott - flute
The Aulus Duo: Georgina Dadson - guitar; Ellie Knott - flute
The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Severn View Local Authority Care Home, Chepstow
Forest of Dean Dementia Action Alliance

Individuals and organisations with whom we worked in 2021:

Nikkila Thomas – singer

Cerys Rees – harp

Vicky Guise – music therapist

Severn View Local Authority Care Home, Chepstow

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

University of South Wales, Music Therapy Department



Pilot Scheme Update, 2021:

Our pilot scheme at Severn View Local Authority Care Home concluded in September, after three interactive music sessions, performed by singer Nikkila Thomas and harpist Cerys Rees, and a ‘training the carers’ workshop for care home staff, led by music therapist Vicky Guise. The response was inspiring, with several normally non-verbal residents prompted to singalong with the musicians and to recall childhood memories as Nikkila and Cerys talked to them afterwards. The magic of music! We are now planning our follow-up programme for 2022.

We were also delighted that her time on the pilot scheme has led to a new part-time job for Nikkila (see her biography on the Music Memory Café page for more details). And we hope that Cerys’s words sum up the experience for them both: 

“I have really enjoyed every moment of it and it has confirmed to me that I would like to continue working within outreach and with the elderly. I have been very proud when I have told people what I have been doing this summer.”


Wye Valley Music

Founded 1967
Registered Charity 1092645

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