Music in Mind uses improvisation as a tool to encourage people living with dementia to express themselves and communicate with others thorough music, alongside Manchester Camerata musicians and qualified music therapists. Projects take place weekly for 15 weeks in care settings across the North of England.
Improvisation allows people to explore music without restrictions, regain some of the control they might have lost in their lives, and connect with their identity. This can lead to improved mood, communication and social interaction, and in some cases reduced agitation and medication use.
Read more about Music in Mind. Funders include: McClay Dementia Trust, Jigsaw Housing, Henry Smith Foundation, Booths Charities, Zochonis CT.
On the Thursday before the lockdown, Manchester Camerata had, through Orchestras Live, ended a project involving eight care and nursing homes, and several schools around Withernsea. At the time of writing this, at least two of the care homes have now got Covid-19, and, tragically, people have died.
All that type of work has stopped, although I have been trying to keep in touch by card and telephone, I hope for a time when we can go back to help heal through music the trauma that staff and residents have been through. I have only played for the Camerata once since then, when Classical Hacienda was part of the ‘United we Stream’ Hacienda day, and 20 of us recorded 30 minutes of the set to put together from home. Outside the home, literally, I have played at Thursday ‘Carer’s Clap’ in our village, as a thank-you, on keyboard, snare and cajon. That is the sum total of my music-making in the past couple of months.
Instead, from the Monday of the lockdown, I have been working full time, 6 days a week, at Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) Headquarters in Wakefield, starting as a NHS111 Covid Service Advisor, but being constantly up-skilled to handle different types of calls too. Listening is a big part of being a musician, and is so important in this job too, and just as I would probe to enable people to write meaningful lyrics for community pieces, now I am probing to ascertain the complete nature of the illnesses, problems and worries being presented. Overnight I continue to volunteer as a Community First Responder for the YAS, something I have done for about a decade, and is the reason they could employ me, since I had experience at the sharp end, and had appropriate qualifications.
Thankfully I have moved from being frightened, to a more positive awareness of the responsibility of the job. Sleep can be difficult, and dreams vivid, but the routine of the job helps. I anticipate I will be doing this for quite some time to come. At the moment, I don’t think of myself as a musician, rather part of a country-wide team, us all working together to do what we can to support each other.
Janet Fulton studied at Huddersfield (where she gained a first-class honours music degree and the prize for Distinction brought to the Institution), and also at the RNCM, where she was awarded a major scholarship and the Advanced Diploma in Music Performance.
For 40 years she has played consistently with all the major Northern orchestras and ensembles and been Manchester Camerata’s Principal Percussionist since the mid-80s.
She plays as a soloist, works as a composer, and is heavily involved with the Camerata in the Community projects, particularly ‘Music in Mind’, for people living with dementia. She also loves working with people with special needs.
In 2019 she was awarded the ABO/RPS Solomon Prize.