Music detective comes to the Islands

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Playlist for Life, the dementia charity set up by broadcaster Sally Magnusson, is coming to the Western Isles.

Andy Lowndes, the charity’s Deputy Chair and its Chief Music Detective, will be travelling from Barra to Lewis in a Playlist for Life campervan to raise awareness of the power of personal music to improve the lives of people with dementia.

Numerous academic studies have shown that music has beneficial effects in the treatment of dementia. It can reduce agitation and anxiety, improve sociability, and reduce the need for medication.

In some situations, music offers better outcomes than psychotropic drugs. The most powerful music is music that has personally-meaningful memories associated with it: the music that formed the soundtrack to the most important events of your life.

In July, Andy put out a call to the Western Isles via social media announcing his plans for a tour and asking for people who want more information on Playlist for Life to get in touch and suggest a venue.

His post on Facebook was enthusiastically shared and subsequently viewed by 23,000 people. As a result, Andy has a packed eight-day schedule:

He will visit Barra on Sunday, September 3rd to Tuesday September 5th, Benbecula, South Uist & North Uist on Wedneday, September 6th, Harris and Lewis on Thursday, September 7th and in Lewis between Friday, September 8th to Tuesday, September 12th (except Sat & Sun).

Along the way he will be stopping off in his campervan at care homes, home-support groups and volunteer organisations to meet people living with dementia, carers, volunteers, care professionals and the local MSP.

Andy will share his powerful and personal stories about music for dementia and give Music Detective training to empower individuals to create playlists. All events are free to attend.

Andy says: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the response from the people of the Western Isles. I’ve had lots of invitations to come and talk and have been invited to social events in the evening too. I’ve even had kind people booking me in to camp sites. I can’t wait to get there and meet everyone.”

Of his role as Chief Music Detective he added: “I’ve worked with many people with dementia over the years and watching the way music can transform someone is always an incredibly moving experience.

“Starting to create a playlist and finding the right song for someone, the song that holds their happiest memories, is a hugely rewarding experience and one that can help families feel a sense of connection again.

“I hope that people will leave with the desire to create their own Playlist for Life and a determination to help friends and loved ones with dementia create theirs.”

Andy always gets great feedback wherever he speaks. At one of his recent events speaking to medical professionals, responses were very emotional: “From tears to laughter in the room...amazing”, “Inspirational and moving stories”, “What a powerful moment! Music is amazing & the emotion in the room is incredible”.