Meet the students


Over the next week I’ll be introducing the four RNCM students who took part in the project , working alongside me to deliver creative sessions in 5 different dementia care settings. First up is Ellis, a postgraduate violinist. Ellis was just fantastic at creating rhythmic fills and interesting textures on the violin to complement what the residents were playing. He had a lovely rapport with the residents as well as supporting the other musicians and me.

Here’s Ellis’ biography and a bit about what the project has meant for him;

I’m a violin student at the RNCM and I enjoy an eclectic mix of performing, teaching and outreach projects. Alongside orchestral and chamber music, recent events have included performances with cross-genre bands GSD and Kaleidoscope Orchestra, a pre-concert presentation on baroque string instruments and working with aspiring young musicians in collaboration with In Harmony and Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra. A keen music arranger and viola player, I also enjoy travelling, swimming and foreign languages.

Being part of the Adages project has been an eye-opening experience. The genuine joy music can generate in care settings is immediately obvious and Holly’s energetic approach to engaging with the residents quickly has an entire room singing and playing along to familiar tunes, on top of prompting spontaneous poetry and lyrics for use in future compositions including So Many Beauties. Learning how to communicate musically (and verbally) a million miles away from the traditional concert platform has been a fantastic opportunity and serves to remind us of the true purpose and power of music.

Looking for singers, particularly tenors and basses

Holly Marland a local composer/musician is looking for singers, especially tenors and basses, to volunteer their time to take part in the performance of “So Many Beauties”, an oratorio written with people with dementia, celebrating creativity. This is at Manchester Cathedral at 7pm on Thursday 6 April 2017.

You can click here  adages-info-for-singers to obtain information about the project and about timings for rehearsals etc. We may be able to help towards travel expenses if this would enable you to participate. It would be helpful if you were able to make both rehearsals but we may still be able to accommodate people if not.

If you are interested in helping out, it would be useful if you could cut and paste answers to the following questions into an email to as soon as possible.

Voice part:

What choir(s) do you sing in already?

Can you attend Sunday 2 April rehearsal at RNCM 2pm – 5pm? If only part of it, let us know what time:

Can you attend Thursday 6 April rehearsal at Manchester Cathedral 2pm – 4pm?

If not, what time would you be able to get to the cathedral on Thursday 6 April approx?

Contact telephone number:

Do you have any dietary or access requirements?

Postal address for the score:

Holly will be providing a printed score for all participants but will also be emailing round PDF’s and audio in the next few weeks so you can start to learn your parts. If you are unable to access online audio resources via Dropbox or Soundcloud, please let Holly know so she can post you a CD.

Hopefully this will be a lovely experience for everyone involved!

If you can possibly encourage other singing chums to get involved (particularly tenors and basses), that would also be appreciated and do feel free to send the e-flyer round to your friends and colleagues! Thanks in advance for your consideration.


It makes me dance in my chair

It’s been incredible to see how residents and patients have blossomed through involvement in music making, poetry writing and having creative conversations. I’ve gathered around 60 hours of session recordings over the course of the last few months and have been listening back to all of them, selecting creative materials to include in the final piece of music. On hearing the music next to her hospital bed, one lady exclaimed “so many beauties” and this has become the title for the piece which will be performed by a choir of around 70-100 people and ensemble at Manchester Cathedral on Thursday 6 April 2017. This piece celebrates the creativity of people with dementia and it has been an enormous privilege to work with Cooper House, Bradford, Cawood House, Brinnington, Stepping Hill Hospital, Lyme Green Hall, Macclesfield and Watford House, New Mills. Thanks to Arts Council England, Music in Hospitals, RNCM and Manchester Cathedral for their support.

“Something to look forward to” feedback from resident

“It makes me dance in my chair” resident

“She doesn’t think I’m silly” resident

“Happiness fills the room” feedback from family member

Age Exchange

Age Exchange are recruiting for arts practitioners to train as part of their RADIQL programme of reminiscence arts with people experiencing Dementia.

To access the application pack go to 

A study on the work undertaken by Royal Holloway University found that the creative engagement offered in RADIQL practice improved the wellbeing of participants by 42% and increased positive behaviour by 25%. It also highlighted recommendations for improving practice including different approaches to working with and training care staff and the need to have effective exit strategies in place so people are not built up and then let down as a project finishes. Really interesting reading;


Exploring poetry and songs for use in my sessions around different themes I came across this stunning song Urge for Going by Joni Mitchell. Whilst I may not use this particular song in the project, it is a beautiful way of reflecting on loss and letting go as winter comes.

Arts Council Funding


I am so delighted to have been awarded funding from Arts Council England and from Music in Hospitals for this project which involves creating and performing a new oratorio through working with different groups of older people with Dementia and their carers. I’m currently in discussions with a number of different settings including residential and hospital care settings with a view to starting sessions in late September. You’ll be able to follow the progress of the project on this Blog. I’ll look forward to sharing some of my learning as I am sure this is going to be a significant learning curve for me in my music for health practise and my work as a composer. Please make sure you put Thursday 6 April 2017 in your diary so you can come along to the performance of the new oratorio at Manchester Cathedral.

I must also credit Michael Hagedorn for the photos on this website. These were taken when I worked alongside the inspirational Gary Glazner at the Alzherimer’s Poetry Project in Brooklyn New York in December 2014. You can find a link to Gary’s work on the resources page. Please note, I’ve only just started to populate this Blog with info so keep checking as more will be added!

Holly Dementia 6