Edinburgh International Festival's 'favour' provided beautiful entertainment at elderly day club – Vicki Bradley

Singing can help people with dementia to access memories (Picture: John Devlin)Singing can help people with dementia to access memories (Picture: John Devlin)
Singing can help people with dementia to access memories (Picture: John Devlin)
Having worked with Edinburgh International Festival in 2020 when they created a double CD of classical music highlights to go into the Christmas goodie bags for our clients, we were delighted to connect up with the Festival again this year.

We received a ‘Festival Favour’ of musicians coming along to entertain our clients. As our day clubs had just started back, it seemed like a perfect way to welcome everyone back to LifeCare.

Our clients love traditional Scottish music, so the Festival asked the folk singer Iona Fyfe, who recently won Musician of the Year at the Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, to perform for them.

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Appearing alongside the pianist Michael Biggens, Iona really entertained them, her beautiful voice captivated her audience as she performed some familiar favourites that had everyone singing along. Many of our clients learned a few new songs too and she definitely made some new fans from her visit to LifeCare.

Part of the attraction for those who come to our day clubs is the ability to bring entertainment in, and working with the Edinburgh International Festival gave us this opportunity to host a fantastic Scottish voice and the high calibre of musical performance that the International Festival is known for.

For dementia clients, it is especially important that they have fun and a sing along at events such as this, as singing helps them to access memories – in fact most of them have no problem recollecting the words to well-loved songs.

We all love listening to music, and when possible attending live performances, but for some it can work as a powerful tool to engage the brain and uncover old memories.

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Overall, the International Festival’s Festival Favour project was a hugely positive experience for both our clients and staff. Perhaps it’s also the beginning of something longer lasting, as we’d love to have Iona and Michael back to LifeCare to perform again soon.

It is very important that our clients have access to all types of music and art. Just because the clients are ageing and may have dementia does not change their desire to be entertained, have fun, and join in with the occasional sing along.

Vicki Bradley is fundraising manager at the charity LifeCare Edinburgh

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