Bamba Blog
Director's Ramblings


Chapter 3 - The Power of Music for Scotland's Mental Health

The power of music to help people suffering from mental health problems has long been established. The history of music therapy in America dates back to at least 1789, with the earliest reference to music therapy located in Columbian Magazine entitled “Music Physically Considered” [1], I guess Scotland can’t invent everything first.

In Scotland today the power of opera and art is being used to help people suffering from dementia along with their carers. Scottish Opera’s Memory Spinners Project uses “music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts” to help “people with dementia and their carers relax, get creative and form new support networks” [2]. While we don't have anything like this at Opera Bamba yet, as we continue to expand and grow our outreach programme we're hoping to be able to include projects just like it.

Research has shown that singing in a group can help sustain a person with dementia’s quality of life, despite the continued progression of the disease [3]. At Opera Bamba we want to start to get more and more people from all backgrounds involved with us singing, having fun and enjoying opera. This year, in 2017, Scottish Opera are putting on a dementia friendly performance of Puccini’s La Boheme [4]. In Scotland there are a number of opportunities to sing and get involved with music, and if you can’t find one near you there’s lots of support out there to help you start one up in your  own community [5].

The population is ageing in Scotland. By 2039 it’s estimated that for every one thousand people of working age there will be 397 people of pension age and over. That’s an increase from 311 in 2015 [6]. Of course we know singing and music aren’t the only answers, but if we can provide a higher quality of life to those who may not be able to assure it for themselves then surely getting over our entrenched views about how it’s embarrassing to sing in public is worth it. That’s why at Opera Bamba we love singing, and we want you to love to sing too!

[1] http://www.musictherapy.org/about/history/

[2] https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/join-in/memory-spinners/

[3] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1471301211422761

[4] https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/news/scottish-opera-presents-dementia-friendly-performances-of-la-boh%C3%A8me/

[5] http://www.bigbigsing.org/resources/

[6] http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Equality/Equalities/DataGrid/Age/AgePopMig


Chapter 4 -

A Couple of Concerts In (13/04/2017)