When music does make a difference by Carla Maney

Singing and dancing at Lost Chord

I have enjoyed a room full of faces light up because a familiar song has been sung. We perform music to residents of all age groups 30 to over 100. Paula an elderly Polish lady remembers that she can sing and what a voice! With every song she gets up smiling, happy and buzzing with joy. Her daughter also loves the moment too. Paula would have been an opera singer but for the war breaking out just as she was accepted for the music conservatoire in Antwerp, and therefore putting an end to Paula‘s dreams.

I sing ‘We’ll gather lilacs’ and Joan who was sitting quietly suddenly sits up and begins to tell me it is her favourite song and goes on to say that she was from a family of 10 children; her family memories are very much alive once again.
I dance and sing a twenties song and Alice, 97, insists on showing me that she can still manage a high kick from her sitting position which brings much laughter into the room with Alice enjoying the moment.

Phil came to life too and suddenly insisted the staff help him get up; very much to their surprise. He turned his zimmer frame around and began instructing myself and staff members on how to do a good Charleston dance commenting on our feet and ankle work. Remarkable!

These are some of my many memorable moments from my recent tour.
Having a volunteer at the concerts really helps everyone and adds to what can be a very memorable occasion indeed for everyone. The volunteer enables a greater participation for all. Our volunteers may dance with the residents and may also sit for a moment with a resident who may just want to share a memory. This additional contact provides am extra dimension to the whole experience. Definitely an experience that I would recommend!

Musicians are reimbursed for their travel and subsistence.

“Even with no special associations with the music other than that it was familiar music they had heard when they were younger (Beatles), positive effects were found” – Nancy Darling phd.

“It is really heart warming to see the change in the residents in the homes we go to. This work is so rewarding and we see the big positive impact it can have on all those people in our audiences.” – Nadine Story

Lost Chord musician, Patricia Hammond

“Lost Chord enriches everyone…from the areas it serves to the musicians it employs, and the elderly who think they’ve been forgotten by the world. I feel more relevant as a singer when I see the fundamental, life-changing difference singing can make.

Lost Chord brings lives into focus, and through the personal stories evoked by the songs we sing, Lost Chord brings communities to life.” – Patricia Hammond

Lost Chord involve musicians who have a desire to work with people with dementia and a willingness to be adaptable to the needs of their audience, while still maintaining a degree of professional integrity towards their own level of musical ability. We are investing in the creative talents of young musicians.

We welcome highly trained professional musicians who can produce a varied programme of music using a variety of instruments and styles designed to stimulate responses from people with dementia in particular, who are unable to walk, talk or communicate in any way. This variety, coupled with the regular monthly frequency and a very tactile approach from the musicians and volunteers, has proved tremendously successful.

Our young musicians, who are often straight out of their schools of music, benefit from the opportunity of performing to a live audience at a time when they are embarking on a career in music, and there are many more benefits such as free accommodation for musicians travelling to the area.

Warren Mailley Smith

Warren Mailley Smith

“Lost Chord provides a means of communication through the power of music – and after 10 years involvement with this wonderful charity, I never cease to be amazed by the breadth and depth of responses by residents, families and staff alike.
My own skills as a performer in more traditional concert settings around the world are continually challenged and developed through my involvement with Lost Chord.” – Warren Mailley Smith

Lost Chord Musician, Lucy Taylor

“Bringing music of high quality into the lives of those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it, and seeing the transformative effect it can have as it stimulates memories, makes working with Lost Chord some of the most rewarding work I do as a musician”. – Lucy Taylor


Auditions for singers and instrumentalists interested in working with Lost Chord and committed to this type of work will take place at The National Opera Studio, London on an annual basis.

“It was an absolute pleasure to assist with the auditioning of Lost Chord musicians and I shall always be glad to help if I possibly can.

I hope the people we selected work out well in practice and I must tell you that I admire what you have achieved enormously. It’s a wonderful charity and it exists because of Helena, which is terrific”. – Kathryn Harries, Director at the National Opera Studio.