Musical Connections began as a pilot project in 2009, seeking to improve the quality of life of residents living in City of York Council’s care homes. The project immediately achieved a positive impact and, in 2010, won an NHS award for work in the area of mental health and wellbeing.
Becoming a charity
Since then, we have developed and expanded, becoming a charity in March 2016 and now running 10 weekly music groups and community choirs in a diverse range of venues across York, such as GP surgeries, churches, community centres, local care homes and sheltered accommodation, enabling us to reach vulnerable and isolated older people living in a range of settings across our community.
Health, happiness and friendship
Research has consistently shown that group singing not only helps forge social connections, but also acts as a beneficial exercise for a happier mind and body. Nearly all of our regular members would tell you that their music group improves their health and happiness – and is the perfect way to make new friends in the community. Increasing evidence suggests that meeting new people and expanding our social connections can play a vital role in maintaining our health – even if we don’t talk to everyone in our music group or choir, we will still feel more positive after actively singing and experience a general feeling of being connected with the wider community, leading to an increased sense of belonging.
“If we could engage more and more people in singing, I’m sure we would have a healthier nation.”
Professor Grenville Hancox, Director of Arts and Health in Kent
Not only does singing reap psychological benefits, but it is also cognitively stimulating – learning new songs can significantly aid memory problems and people living with dementia have been shown to remember the words of songs and even learn new ones, despite struggling with daily conversation. They also find engaging in music can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language, and encourage connections with their personality and sense of humour.
A singing session is also a wonderful workout – it improves breathing, posture and reduces muscle tension, and has also been shown to be effective in pain relief and sustaining a healthy immune system.
“It's a beautiful way to burn calories, strengthen my core and gain endorphins!”
Member of our Roling Tones community choir