Have you heard of the Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) Orchestra? Earlier this week, I came across this remarkable program, which gives people in the early stages of dementia, as well as their caregivers, the chance to learn how to play musical instruments and perform together as an ensemble.
BUDI Orchestra musicians attend a series of eight to ten weekly workshops led by members of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Bournemouth University music students. Then they publicly perform selections like Ravel’s Boléro and Moon River to raise awareness about dementia. Through the program, the BUDI faculty has seen people gain confidence and build stronger relationships—two especially important outcomes given the depression and isolation that often accompany a dementia diagnosis. Researchers on the faculty are also using the program as an opportunity to gain insights into how individuals with dementia learn.
This program is a great reminder to never underestimate anyone’s abilities, as observed by Professor Anthea Innes, the Director of BUDI, after the first rehearsal in 2014:
I had the pleasure of being taught how to play a few notes (badly) on the double bass by one of our participants with dementia, which was probably the best part of the morning for me. I have a soap box position about how when someone has dementia it is possible to continue to learn new things and also for people with dementia to help us learn new things. Today was just another inspiring example of that.[i]
Check out the video below to hear from more people involved with the BUDI Orchestra and see highlights from its June 2014 performance!
[i] “The BUDI Orchestra.” Research. Bournemouth University, 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.