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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2021

Music & Participation: A Report on Three Innovative Projects

From the book Arts & Dementia

  • Peter Wissmann


In the discourse on dementia, references to music usually refer to the latter’s impact on those living with the condition. Music evokes memories, addresses people on an emotional level and, through its repetition-based structure, helps to soothe those affected and provide them with orientation (Muthesius 2010). The positive impact music has on people living with neurocognitive impairment is considered a certainty. All of this suggests that music can play a powerful role when it comes to caring for people living with dementia. Yet, looking at music primarily in terms of the individual effects it has on those living with the condition leaves one aspect substantially underappreciated: the role music can play with regard to participation in culture and society. This article presents three participatory cultural projects carried out by Demenz Support Stuttgart gGmbH and evaluates them with regard to the following aspects: • What contribution to cultural participation do they make? • How do they realize the participation of cognitively changed people? • What effects can they achieve with regard to those involved as well as to society at large? • What contribution can they make to changing the negative manner in which growing old and living with dementia are portrayed?

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