Call for Musicians

Call for Musicians

volunteermusicworks is looking for musicians who can support a new Nottingham based project designed to enrich the quality of life for people living dementia and their carers through the use of personalised music. Based on our award winning “Soundtrack to My Life” initiative and part of “Music in Care” series.

We need talented and self confident accompanists who can play piano, guitar or similar whilst singing a wide selection of songs some of which will be chosen by the group participants. Songs will be pre-prepared before sessions so it is not expected that sight reading will be essential.

The successful musicians will work alongside a group of trained volunteers who will lead the sessions with the support of facilitators. They will need to be patient, easy going and have a genuine interest in the application of personalised music in a therapeutic way to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers. Whilst the volunteers will be primarily responsible for working with the group participants the musicians must be prepared to interact directly with all the group participants. Knowledge of dementia is not required as training will be offered to successful musicians as part of the preparation for the course.

Group sessions will take place on week days, either in the mornings (10am to 12pm) or afternoons (2pm to 4pm), depending on the preference of the group members and will take place on a fortnightly basis.

In line with the musicworks policy of supporting musicians by ensuring the right rate for the job. We are looking to recruit a number of musicians who can work together to make sure that all group sessions have a musician to support the group work. A fee of £40 will be paid for each two hour session undertaken. This will be on a self employed basis as musicworks cannot directly employ musicians.

For further information or to submit an application please contact

Lent: Looking Outwards – “The Soundtrack to My Life” Event

Lent: Looking Outwards – “The Soundtrack to My Life” Event

STML SSB posterLast summer, in between meetings I nipped into our local Farm Shop, to grab some things for the family supper. Whilst doing so I was approached by a local resident, John Osborne, who wanted a quick word. John explained that he was interested in running some sessions in the village to try to increase awareness and understanding of dementia. His hope was to encourage Thornham to become a Dementia Friendly Village.

It’s interesting that sometimes it is the random conversations that really spark something. My nursing past, and my priestly present made me instantly interested ,and a dialogue between John and I began.

John, is a qualified social worker and a musician. He has worked in health and social care for over 35 years, including running his own care company. His particular interest in dementia arose after caring for his own father for many years through a whole journey of progression of dementia. John currently runs a training company, JoCo Learning & Development, who provide social care training including specialist dementia courses and a business development programme supporting organisations to be Dementia Friendly. John also volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Society as a Dementia Friends Champion.

John: Anybody can take steps to become a Dementia Friend, its about understanding more about the condition, and the things we can all do to support people living with dementia and those who care for them. We offer training and support to organisations to consider their customers, environments and their staff who may be caring for someone with dementia or have a diagnosis themselves.

With the support of a small grant from Thornham United Charities six sessions have taken place in the village, including the Soup and Sandwiches Lunch in November. To date this has resulted in 72 people becoming dementia friends.

I think what has inspired me about working with John, is his incredibly positive attitude. There are certain subjects that we as a culture avoid publically: ‘money’ and ‘death’ are two examples. Cancer used to be another, but dementia is definitely still on the banned list. As a nurse I learnt that facing up to a diagnosis is the first step to a healthy approach to the rest of life. As a Christian I understand two particular things: that our suffering God allows us to see possibilities even in suffering, and that God is intensely interested in every individual, whatever limitations that individual lives with. We are all children of God in God’s eyes, and precious, so surely I need to be following Jesus’ example and help meet the challenges of all stages of life with compassion and with cheerfulness, finding what is good there.

John also runs a charity, ‘musicworks’, which promotes all forms of music. The charity also hosts a series of ‘Music In Care’ projects including ‘Soundtrack to My Life’, a toolkit he designed using personalised music in a therapeutic way to support people living with dementia and ‘My Music Oasis’ which uses personalised music for carers. A third toolkit followed, ‘My Story in Music’, a legacy project using music at end of life.

“As a musician I have always been aware of the power of music, it took me a few years after my fathers death to reaslise what would have made our family position better, with this in mind I created the ‘Soundtrack to My Life’ a toolkit designed to improve the quality of life for people with dementia through the application of personalised music to daily living”

 John and I are planning two further events within the Heacham and Rising Deanery. On the 16th February as part of our ‘Lent: Looking Outwards’ series, John will introduce to us the possibilities of music in dementia care. We then hope to have a special Deanery evening furthering this exploration of music and memory.

I hope that all of this work will encourage us to understand the possibilities of care and the hope even in challenging circumstances.

Rev. Susan Bowden-Pickstock (Saxon Shore Benefice)



‘Music in Care’ Supported by Donation from John Lewis’ ‘Music Matters’

‘Music in Care’ Supported by Donation from John Lewis’ ‘Music Matters’

In June, we announced that we had received a grant from the John Lewis Partnership’s ‘Music Matters’ fund for our Care Homes Project fund. (see previous article here)

On the 17th of November, Louise Law and James Cordin from John Lewis Partnership in Nottingham, visited staff from Kingfisher Court and Seely Hirst House on their final day of ‘Soundtrack to my Life’ Training.

Staff from Kingfisher Court and Seely Hirst House meet staff from John Lewis

Staff from Kingfisher Court and Seely Hirst House meet staff from John Lewis

Both Care Homes were given the opportunity for members of their management and staff to receive FREE training and toolkits as part of the Care Homes Project.

John Osborne, Chair and Artistic Director of musicworks said: “We were thrilled to receive this grant from the John Lewis Partnership. As a direct consequence of the award we have been able to provide toolkits and training to two local care homes to implement the ‘Soundtrack to My Life’. In addition to directly enhancing the quality of life for residents with dementia, this innovative and creative approach will greatly enhance the skills and knowledge of care and support staff.”

We look forward to keeping in touch with the Care Homes and following their progress with ‘Music in Care’.

The training was provided by JoCo Learning & Development. Thanks to Seely Hirst House for hosting the training sessions.

Thank You John Lewis!

Thank You John Lewis!

We’re pleased to announce that musicworks have been awarded a grant by the John Lewis Partnership’s Music Matters fund.

The John Lewis Partnership has been making grants to support musical activities of all kinds for over 75 years. Grants are awarded for specific musical events or projects that make an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the local communities of which we are part. musicworks applied for a grant to support the Care Homes Project which aims to fund the use of ‘Music in Care’ for Care Homes.

Directors John Osborne and Jo Belton were invited to the John Lewis store in Victoria Centre to meet Community Liaison Coordinator, Louise Law, who presented them with a cheque for £1000.

We look forward to using that money to support the use of ‘Music in Care’ for local care homes as soon as possible.

Huge thanks to the John Lewis Partnership and Louise at our local store for their support.

John Lewis  JLP


What is ‘The Soundtrack to My Life’?



The ‘Soundtrack to My Life’ was the first of the musicworks three ‘Music in Care’ toolkits. It was designed for people living with dementia and other memory loss conditions.

John Osborne developed ‘Soundtrack’ following his own experience as a carer for his own father through his dementia journey. As a social care professional and musician, it wasn’t until after his father had sadly passed away that he was able to reflect on how music could have helped his journey with dementia.

Personalised music is emotional and that emotion acts as a ‘memory bridge’ which can take you back to a significant event, person, place and how you felt at that exact time.

The brain has the ability to store musical memory in complex ways. For people living with dementia this memory bridge is vital to reconnect them with memories from their life story which may otherwise be lost due to the illness.

The ‘Soundtrack to My Life’ toolkit offers people with dementia especially, a way to collate their important and significant musical life story.

The toolkit comprises of short questions to prompt the individual to think about people, places and events that may have important musical memories. There is space to record the music and most importantly, the story behind why it is important to the person.

As well as the toolkit pages, ‘The Soundtrack to My Life’ includes helpful notes to help the user, their family or carers with the process of collecting musical memories.

The musicworks ‘Music in Care’ project also promotes the use of music listening technology for people with dementia and carers. There is useful guidance on how to access and use affordable music technology from CDs, iPods and music online like YouTube, Spotify and iTunes distilled in such a way that should see novices gain confidence.

Look inside: (images)
The ‘Music in Care’ project is all about person centred engagement with music and so the toolkit also manages to include some practical ideas on how to use personalised music collection(s) as part of a person centred daily routine.

When it comes to music interventions for people with dementia, and in fact in all musicworks’ ‘Music in Care’ toolkits, the distinct strength is; ‘Soundtrack’ offers more than a one off activity. Both the process of creating a ‘Soundtrack’ and music listening are equally important. It offers meaningful occupation, strengthens identity and is portable, travelling with the person through their dementia journey. It is a proven way to bring a person centred approach to music choice and selection to routine day activities, reminiscence groups, singing, choirs, dance, exercise and beyond.

‘Soundtrack to My Life’ toolkits cost just £10 and includes free electronic storage of any toolkit that has been completed as an insurance against loss or damage. This means that any ‘Soundtrack’ can be recreated for an individual or their relative should they need a replacement.

Training workshops are available for health and social care professionals and carers to learn more about ‘Music in Care’ and how to use ‘Soundtrack’ toolkits. For more information about training please visit JoCo Learning & Development’s website here
by Kate Williams on 10th February 2015.