The 'In the Moment' Musical Experiences of People with Dementia: A Multiple-Case Study Approach

UoM administered thesis: Phd

Abstract

Background: Music is the most commonly accessed arts-based activity for people living with dementia, but the evidence-base for the use of music is currently lacking. This is because much of the research in this area uses a biomedical lens to understand musical experience, placing a focus on how music might alleviate the 'behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia' rather than exploring the role of music as meaningful and stimulating activity through which a person with living dementia can flourish. Qualitative research suggests that the main benefits of music lie 'in the moment' with music providing a platform for multisensory experiences that are embodied and relational. To date, there are no research studies which have sought to understand the 'in the moment' musical experiences of people living with dementia where the focus is on embodied and sensory experiences. Aims: This thesis used a multiple-case study design to develop a thematic description of the 'in the moment' embodied and sensory experiences of people living with dementia when they engage with music. The setting for this study was Manchester Camerata's Music in Mind: an innovative improvisation-based music programme for people living with dementia. Six people living with dementia were recruited into the study, along with four family carers and two Music in Mind practitioners. Each case study presented the individual 'in the moment' experiences of each person living with dementia, while a cross-case analysis of the data examined the elements of experience which were translatable across participants. Findings: A range of embodied and sensory experiences were observed 'in the moment' during the Music in Mind sessions. The six individual case studies narrated the experiences of each person living with dementia across the Music in Mind programme, and presented a number of key observations which focused on embodied and sensory experiences. The thematic description of 'in the moment' experience presented in the cross-case analysis of data presented three interacting master themes: Living a Life Story through Music; Being 'In the Moment' with Music; and Musical Ripples into Everyday Life. Each of these themes was dynamic and contextualised the 'in the moment' experiences of each person living with dementia. The cross-case analysis also presented measurable qualities of experience which were observable across the people living with dementia. Such measurable qualities were directly observable, providing a tangible means by which to examine core features of 'in the moment' musical experience. Conclusions: The study contributes to knowledge by presenting a thematic description of 'in the moment' musical experience combined with measurable qualities of the sensory and embodied experiences. This thematic description will form the basis of a new music assessment framework (In the Moment Profiles) which will enable the recording of individual musical stories as well as measurable qualities of experience which can be compared across individuals. This framework places emphasis on music and creativity, which is in direct contrast to the current methods of evaluation that are used to measure the benefits of music for people living with dementia.

Details

Original languageEnglish
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Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Aug 2019