The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s ReConnect programme – a series of interactive music workshops for people living with dementia – is to take place in a public space for the first time on 11 March.

As part of the Mad Hatter, Grey Matter Festival 2019, which aims to explore creativity and neuroscience, Dr Jane Bentley and musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra are inviting people living with dementia and their carers to join them in a free workshop at St Cecilia’s Hall in central Edinburgh from 11am-12 noon on Monday 11 March.

Launched in 2013 in collaboration with Dr Katie Overy, Director of the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD) at the University of Edinburgh, SCO ReConnect is a programme of interactive music workshops which uses creative music making to enhance well-being and social interaction for people living with dementia. Delivered by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, over the last six years SCO ReConnect has taken place in hospital settings. It aims to use live music to help improve patients' and carers' sense of well-being and quality of life, putting patients at the heart of the musical experience and encouraging the general use of music in the care setting. The sessions incorporate improvisation and interactive performances of varied musical repertoire, which might include songs from musicals, well known Scottish tunes, and popular hits from the past. Patients, family members and care staff are invited and supported to join in by singing, playing instruments, dancing and listening. During workshops, SCO musicians perform and improvise around familiar melodies and spontaneously generate musical ideas to match the mood and musical preferences of the participants.

In the first SCO ReConnect workshop to take place outside a hospital setting, musicians Alison Green (SCO Bassoon) and Su-a Lee (SCO Cello) will join community music specialist Dr Jane Bentley to lead the public workshop at St Cecilia’s Hall on Monday 11 March. Open to anyone living with or affected by dementia in the community, the workshop will invite and support participants to sing, play instruments, improvise and listen. No musical expertise or experience is required.

Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, Creative Learning Director for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, says: For a number of years, our experienced musicians have been making a difference to life on hospital wards and we are delighted to invite anyone living with or affected by dementia to join us for the first SCO ReConnect public workshop, delivered in partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s Museums Services.

Dr Jane Bentley, community music specialist, says: We experience so many moments of shared joy, care and connection in the ReConnect workshops. It’s a delight to be bringing it to a wider audience - and sharing the contribution that music can make towards people being able to live life to the full.

Alison Green, SCO Bassoon, says: Jane, Su-a and I have worked together in a hospital setting and this public workshop will be a chance for us to encourage people living with dementia to join with us in singing, playing instruments and generally enjoying music together.

The Mad Hatter, Grey Matter Festival 2019 will run at the University of Edinburgh from Monday 11 – Friday 15 March. For more information go to

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