Combating loneliness through music

Bec Horner

Bec Horner

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Combating loneliness through music

What struck me after a long conversation with Emma from Musical Connections was how passionate she was about bringing happiness and well being to all sorts of people through the power of music.

Her talk of a musical programme that involves children, students, older people, in fact anyone who wants to have a go, was really inspiring.

A charity since 2016, Musical connections has 10 groups and community choirs around York, open to anyone.  There are four musicians, including Emma, who run the groups.

The groups range from singing choirs to playing music together, it is all about participating in the way that feels good for the individual . Every session is unique and naturally adapts to the people who participate, there are no fixed assumptions about the types of music and activities they will enjoy.

Each York group, targeted at older people who could otherwise feel lonely or isolated, is linked to a local school and also has students from both Universities involved. It might be a ukulele session or a drum workshop, the intergenerational aspect is key to keeping the sessions fresh and rewarding for all.

And several times a year all groups join together to perform and sing en masse at external events.

Interestingly Musical Connections are also piloting a service with GPs at York Medical Group in Clifton. GPs can now offer music sessions as a ‘medicine’ for patients, an alternative way of improving their health and well being and combatting loneliness.

‘To many people a session with Musical Connections is the highlight of their week. ‘ Emma told me.

They look forward to meeting up, having a chat, and experimenting with different aspects of music. There’s an element of intellectual stimulation as well. People ask us music related questions and we have discussions. Some groups dance, some sing, whatever they want to do, we facilitate it.’

‘We originally started when a gap was noticed in council care homes, giving people the opportunity to participate actively in music-making.  The programme has evolved to offer our service in sheltered housing schemes community centres and now even GP surgeries.  And they are open to anyone who wants to join in.’

‘The connection children and students have with the older participants is wonderful. You see an an uplifting shift in the participants.  It is mutually beneficial to all.’

If you know of people who might benefit from being involved in Musical Connections, please do get in touch on  01904 373011. Their excellent web site ( tells you a whole host more.

They are also always on the look out for volunteers. At the moment they would love a volunteer mini bus driver and also one-to-one volunteers to support individuals to come to a music group.

Again, if you would like to volunteer, do get in touch.


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