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MHA Patron Pam Rhodes regularly meets congregations expressing their faith with joyous song when she presents BBC's Songs of Praise.

And when she gave the Radio 4 Appeal in July last year, she implored 2.4 million listeners to give to MHA's Music Therapy Appeal, helping people with dementia to find their voices and themselves every day.

"I've been presenting Songs of Praise for about 27 years and in all that time I've always been aware of the power of music and how it touches people on a level that goes way beyond just singing the words," Pam said. "Music seems to unlock not just the memory, but also the personality. Sometimes, when people have dementia, those signs of personality seem to have disappeared in the frail frame we can see, but the precious person inside is still there and MHA recognises this."

Across MHA, trained Music Therapists provide group and one-to-one sessions, enabling people with dementia to express themselves. Chris Wilson, Music Therapist at Maple Leaf House in Ripley, said, "It's empowering. People become engaged, it brings them into the here and now, even when words aren't possible." In a typical group session, he plays old favourites, hymns, folk songs and even rock 'n' roll on his guitar, encouraging residents to sing or play percussion, using musical cues or calling them in by name. As he progresses, quiet people begin to smile and mouth along - one resident is drawn by the music to dance his way into the lounge.

"One lady was so anxious when she first arrived here," confides Manager Susan Wilson. "But since she started having music therapy, she's been so much calmer. She doesn't even need her anxiety medication."

Pam knows the power of music therapy. "Music, especially in the hands of a skilled music therapist, can find the person in a way which is so encouraging," she said. "And I'm very glad to be able to bring this message to people in the Radio 4 Appeal.

"There are so many people with all sorts of talents and skills doing remarkable work for MHA. As Patron, I can bring my background in broadcasting to help all the others who do so much."

To find out more and to make a donation, please visit the MHA Music Therapy Appeal's JustGiving page here.

You can listen to the Appeal here.

 


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