Music into Upton was one of Art Beyond Belief’s first health-related programmes, and was the first project for which we were funded by Arts Council England. The idea of the programme was to bring live music into some of the geriatric wards and clinics at Upton Hospital. The programme was monitored and evaluated by the Sidney de Hann Centre; Alistair Bamford from the centre reported that “… to have Frank playing, it seemed right – ordinary, but in a very profound way.” Commenting on the music, he said “ There was real participation with tapping feet, mouthing words, and the staff seemed to appreciate the atmosphere – lots of smiles, lots of asides and jokes. Frank’s playing seemed, again, ‘right’ – to fill the acoustic space.”
Basically, in amnesia, whether or not it’s with Alzheimer’s, you’ve lost your life. You’ve lost your past, you’ve lost your story, you’ve lost your identity to a considerable extent. You can get some feel of it, for a little while, with familiar music.
The programme was an outstanding success, with quality of life for the patients improved and everyone involved – patients, family members, nursing and support staff reporting positive benefits. We had hoped that there would be an immediate follow-on programme, but it was not possible to continue in the same way, and the use of Upton for this type of care changed soon afterwards. The Allegretto programme did follow – and so successful was the whole Music initiative that we hope we will be able to run it again in the future.
“This is a great social advance.I come here to get my medical condition sorted out, and find I can now look forward to the social experience at the same time. I live alone, so when I come here, and listen to the music, I appreciate every bit of it.”
Frank Doherty was our lead musician for Music into Upton, and also later for the Allegretto programme.