Playlist for Parkinson’s LIVE at the RNCM

RNCM students will be performing a special concert on Tuesday 14 June that will showcase the preliminary findings of an international study into music and Parkinson’s.

Playlist for Parkinson’s LIVE will see a string quartet and pop music ensemble performing the musical results of a research project into the way that music can help people with Parkinson’s to manage their movement and moods.

The playlist covers a range of scenarios from ‘music for happiness’ to ‘music to get me going’ and is based on the research led by Dr Michelle Phillips of the RNCM, Dr Dawn Rose of Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland, Dr Ellen Poliakoff of University of Manchester and Dr Will Young of University of Exeter. People with Parkinson’s have been integral to the project sharing how they use music, what it means to them and how it can be beneficial, and the concert will be the first time these results have been shared.

A series of short talks about the project, which will introduce some of those involved, will be followed by students performing the Playlist for Parkinson’s. The programme features a wide range of tracks including Shotgun (George Ezra), Mr Blue Sky (ELO), Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond) and Ride of the Valkyries (Richard Wagner).

Dr Michelle Phillips, Deputy Head of Undergraduate Programmes, says: ‘This is not only a unique and impactful way to share our research findings, it’s a fantastic opportunity to nurture the next generation of student musicians and researchers, who are collaborators in the project alongside the people with Parkinson’s and the researchers, and who are the future of exploring how music can have an impact on our lives.’

‘This is a new way to share research – not just in a journal article that only other researchers are likely to read, but in concert format, alongside all collaborators who are part of this project: people with Parkinson’s, students, researchers, and programming and events experts.’

Dr Dawn Rose, Senior Researcher at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland, explains: ‘Music can have a positive impact on people with Parkinson’s in two ways. Firstly, music with a strong beat can help cue movements. For example, some people with Parkinson’s may shuffle and need to lengthen their stride to reduce the chances of falling. Finding a song with a good beat at the right tempo for them can help by matching their steps to the beat.

‘Secondly, music can help improve mood for people with Parkinson’s in several ways; helping with motivation to get moving, by connecting us with others (for example through dancing), or as part of our identities, an aspect of self that is often shaken by diagnosis – but music helps access positive memories and provides an autobiographical template (i.e. the soundtrack of our lives) that may help prevent social and personalised stigma associated with the condition.’

This is the first time that Playlist for Parkinson’s LIVE will be performed and it will be followed by a second concert in May 2023 at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, where the Swiss findings will be presented.

Playlist for Parkinson’s is funded by the Arnold Bentley New Initiatives Fund by the board of the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE) in London.

Playlist for Parkinson’s LIVE takes place at the RNCM Concert Hall – talks are at 5.30pm, followed by refreshments at 6pm and the concert will start at 6.30pm (lasting an hour). Admission is free and no tickets are needed.

Further information is available here and those who are unable to attend the concert, but would like to find out more about the project can email [email protected].

6 June 2022