An Interactive Tool to Promote Musical Creativity in People With Dementia

Philippa Riley
Norman Alm
Alan Newell

Abstract

Dementia is a growing problem that affects the lives of those diagnosed and caregivers, with symptoms having an effect on memory, communication, the ability to learn new skills and problems with behaviour, such as aggression, agitation and depression. Participation in activities can improve quality of life for people with dementia, reducing behavioural problems and aiding relaxation. Research has established that people with dementia can be both artistically and musically creative, and have an appreciation of music even in the latter stages of the disease. The symptoms of the disease, however, mean that supporting music making activities with this group of people is challenging. This paper describes a prototype system designed to enable people with dementia to create music, using a touch screen interface to control a system which utilises chords to create pleasant-sounding music regardless of any prior musical knowledge. Results of usability studies suggest the system is easy to use, and that pleasant-sounding music can be created with it. Participants, including people with dementia, appeared actively engaged during use of the system, many reporting they enjoyed the experience. Future testing will establish the degree to which people with dementia could be musically creative using such a system. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)