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Seeking out the Music Detectives

Jim Matthews delivers a PowerPoint presentation on behalf of
Playlist For Life

Novus member Jim Matthews gave a PowerPoint presentation entitled Seeking The Detectives on behalf of the charity Playlist For Life.

Jim explained that he first heard about the Glasgow-based UK-wide charity when he attended the Rotary Conference and Showcase in Nottingham in May 2019. One of the speakers that day was Andy Lowndes, Deputy Chair and The Music Detective, Playlist For Life. The stage on which Andy stood had been used by TV actress Vicky McClure and her Dementia Choir, which, by chance, Jim had watched a couple of days before he attended the Rotary event.

There are more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and this is set to rise to more than a million by 2025 and two million by 2051. Dementia describes more than 100 different diseases. For every person living with dementia, the annual cost to the UK economy is more than £30,000.

Sally Magnusson and her mother, Mamie

Playlist For Life was founded by broadcaster Sally Magnusson who spent several years with her sisters caring for their mother, Mamie, the widow of Magnus Magnusson. They found that listening to music helped Mamie cope with living with dementia.

Research has proved that neural networks damaged by dementia can be reconnected by listening to music which means a lot to the listener.

Harry and Margaret in a still image from the video

The presentation by Jim included two brief videos, one of which showed Sally and her mum singing along to well-remembered and much-loved songs. The other tear-jerking video showed a couple called Harry and Margaret whose lives were greatly improved when Harry started listening to his collection of personally meaningful music his Playlist For Life.

The charity wants to explain why music is so special; to teach people what music works best and to tech volunteers to be Music Detectives, helping people source the most appropriate songs and when to listen to the music to calm people down or to raise their spirits.

Most often, the most personally meaningful music is first heard during the ‘memory bump’ between the ages of 15 and 25 when memories become most embedded and are most useful in helping people living with dementia find themselves again and get closer to their former selves.

The benefit is not only experienced by the person with dementia, but by their families and their carers, too.

Playlist For Life is also hoping to establish Help Points which each cost £150 to establish and which can help recruit Music Detectives. To help compile an individual’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ selection, the music detectives can refer to old photographs, family parties, and all sorts of documents.

The playlist can be downloaded to a music player, or to a computer memory stick or copied to a CD so that the music can be played at an appropriate time of day. The charity has developed an app for Apple devices (not yet for Android) and a book of the most popular 100 tunes for each of the last 100 years.

Jim thanked his club members for allowing to him to spread the word and to use them as ‘guinea pigs’ as this was the first time he had delivered the presentation. He has already been invited to give the presentation to other Rotary Clubs and is offering to any other Rotary club or social organisation.

To invite him, please e-mail him

Last edited: 15:40, Friday, August 9, 2019