Musical Memories charity offers singing respite for dementia sufferers

Global Harmony singing in support of Herts Musical Memories.

Global Harmony singing in support of Herts Musical Memories. - Credit: Archant

A new charity has been set up to continue the work of the defunct Singing for the Brain group, providing musical respite for people suffering from dementia.

Herts Musical Memories was founded by former Singing for the Brain group leader Kerry Brabany after changes in Herts County Council funding meant the Alzheimer’s Society could no longer continue running the 15 much-loved singing groups across the county.

Now reduced to just 12 groups, the new charity covers areas including St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, Letchworth and Wheathampstead.

Despite its recent creation, Herts Musical Memories has already received backing from St Albans home care agency Home Instead, who have covered the first year’s hire of a hall in Homewood Road, St Albans, ukulele band Katie’s Jumping Fleas, and local choir Global Harmony.

Kerry has experienced first hand how positively singing impacts people with dementia as her father lived with vascular dementia and towards the end of his illness could hardly speak: “The very last time I saw him he was very ill and in a lot of pain.

“I put on the radio and a song came on that we both recognised. As I joined in with the music, he lifted his head and we sang together. It is this ability to reconnect with music that makes our singing sessions so valuable for those who attend.”

Herts Musical Memories sessions incorporate gentle seated exercise to music, voice and breath exercises, an eclectic mix of songs, and time to socialise over a cup of tea and a chat.

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Charity supporter Wendy Hyams explained why it was important the groups continue: “Those who attend rely on this service, and in many cases it is the only social activity that benefits them socially and emotionally as well as benefitting their cognitive skills through singing familiar songs.”

Katie’s Jumping Fleas will be performing fundraising concerts at Wheathampsted Memorial Hall on August 21 from 11am-12noon, and the United Reformed Church in Homewood Road on September 8 from 2.45-3.45pm.

For details on Herts Musical Memories sessions, visit their Facebook page at