EMBRACE Nederland participant in nationwide research

There is currently a nationwide research into the impact of the arts and culture in long-term care and our Music and Dementia programme has been selected, as one of the fifteen arts initiatives to take part. The goal of the research is to deliver improvement and sustainability of arts programmes in the health and well-being of vulnerable elderly people. The study is initiated by the RCOAK Foundation, the Sluyterman van Loo Fund and ZonMw.

Development of music technology for people with multiple disabilities

In collaboration with NHL-Stenden Leeuwarden, we are working to develop innovative musical instruments for people with serious multiple disabilities, in order to encourage conscious music-making and therefore to communicate through music. The development of this research is in the hands of Tjerk Dijkstra, lecturer and researcher Creative Technology at NHL-Stenden.

The goal is to design a number of prototypes, apply them in practice and after analysis, develop them towards a viable final product. It is important that the instrument will be affordable, easy to use for people without extensive musical or technical knowledge and flexible enough to adapt to differing situations.

Music is an important means of communication and interaction with one’s environment and is an essential part of everyday existence. The creation of a musical instrument that can be independently played by people with multiple disabilities can substantially improve their quality of life.
With this development we are working close with Drake Music in London, who are leaders in the field of musical instruments for people with disabilities, such as the Kellycaster adapted guitar, AirHarp, ToneRuler, and touch-sensitive Mi Mu gloves.

Researched effects of the Music & Dementia Programme

Behind the Music & Dementia programme is the original qualitative research of Music for Life in London, which showed the positive effects on residents, staff and musicians. This is was conducted by the Research Group Lifelong Learning in Music from the Prins Claus Conservatoire, Groningen.

Smilde, Rineke; Page, Kate; Alheit, Peter (2014) While the Music Lasts. On Music and Dementia. Delft: Eburon Academic Publishers.

Covenant with the Prins Claus Conservatoire (PCC)

De training voor musici die zich willen specialiseren in het werken met mensen met dementie is ontwikkeld op basis van onderzoek en pilots aan het Prins Claus Conservatorium in Groningen en het Koninklijk Conservatorium in Den Haag. Het lectoraat Lifelong Learning in Music van het Prins Claus Conservatorium heeft onderzoek gedaan naar de praktijk van Music for Life, een project van Wigmore Hall Learning en Dementia UK.
Philip Curtis, mede-directeur van EMBRACE Nederland, doceert aan het Prins Claus Conservatorium en het Koninklijk Conservatorium. Alle musici van EMBRACE Nederland hebben de module ‘Muziek en Dementie’ in de Master of Music gevolgd aan het Prins Claus Conservatorium in Groningen. EMBRACE Nederland is convenant-partner van het conservatorium in Groningen.


Neurologist Professor Dr. Erik Scherder on Music and Dementia

Neurologist Erik Scherder (member of the advisory committee of EMBRACE Nederland) has stated for many years that listening to music, and above all, playing music, is good for our brains, health and well-being. The making of music particularly, has an enormous impact on our possibilities for empathy and understanding of others.

Further reading

There are numerous publications on the effects of music on people living with dementia and you can also read more through the links below.


Kitwood, T. (1997), Dementia Reconsidered: The person comes first, New York, Open University Press
Renshaw, Peter (2010), Engaged Passions: Searches for Quality in Community Contexts, Delft, Eburon Academic Publishers
Sacks, Oliver (2007), Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, New York/London, Random House / Picador PanMacmillan
Scherder, E. (2017), Singing in the brain: Over de muzikale samenwerking tussen muziek en hersenen, Amsterdam, Athenaeum
Smilde e.a., R. (2014), While the music lasts: On music and dementia, Delft, Eburon Academic Publishers
Zeisel, John (2010), I’m still here: Creating a better life for a loved on living with Alzheimer’s, London, Piatkus


Marshall, N.A. & Shibazaki, K. (2016), Seeking Asylum: The Benefits for Clients, Family Members and Care-givers of Using Music in Hospice Care, in: Asian Journal of Human Services, volume 11, pp. 18-30
Marshall, N.A. & Shibazaki, K. (2017), Promoting Wellbeing: Amylase as an Indicator of Changes in Stress Level in People with Intellectual Disabilities, in: Asian Journal of Human Services, volume 12, pp. 60-76