Color the Music

A collaboration of art and music for adults living with dementia and their care partners

Guide for Professional Program Facilitators, Care Partners, or Family Members

Artists, writers, and musicians have inspired each other throughout history, and this inspiration continues in the 21st Century. The National Philharmonic, in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore, invites you to participate in a new collaboration with Mather, an over 80-year-old organization dedicated to creating Ways to Age WellSM.

Research demonstrates that abilities related to creativity in the present moment, sensory enjoyment, and emotional connection all remain long into dementia progression. We believe that the arts are key to tapping into these long-lasting strengths!

Join the National Philharmonic and Mather for a series of dementia-friendly virtual concerts paired with Creative Explorations to try either during or after enjoying the concert. Each Creative Exploration will be outlined with accessibility and wellbeing in mind. This engagement plan will be a useful tool for program coordinators, art therapists, teaching artists, caregivers, or family and friends to help facilitate connection and expression inspired by music.

We believe that connecting with and responding to music through other forms of creative expression supports wellness. Feelings of autonomy, affiliation, and achievement are key ingredients for sustaining wellbeing even as we face cognitive impairment. Here are some tips for cultivating autonomy, affiliation, and achievement through each concert’s creative exploration:

Autonomy: Support feelings of autonomy by honoring each artist’s choices about what they would like to create, or what material or color they would like to use. Listen to, and honor, the personal connections participants make between the music and their own experiences. Remember, there is no wrong way to make art!

Affiliation: Support feelings of connection during this activity by assisting artists in sharing their work with each other at the end of the group. Invite each artist to give their work a title and share something they like about their piece.

Achievement: The marks we make upon the world (and upon paper) matter! Celebrate participants’ sense of pride and accomplishment by noting what was learned during the concert, and treating the beautiful artwork made with dignity by matting each piece and displaying professionally with artist’s names and titles.


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