Interview with Jordana Peake
Jordana’s interest in music, combined with her medical research experience meant she was the ideal person to be our new Research Associate.
So, what attracted her to Music for my Mind and what is she looking forward to in 2019?
Why did you want to work for Music for my Mind?
Jordana: The Music for my Mind project combines two of my life passions: medical research relating to life limiting conditions and music. In fact, after my postdoctoral research into children’s palliative care, I took some time out to focus on my music. I sing folk, soul, jazz and opera, as well as playing the piano – and I’m learning to play the guitar.
Improving the lives of people living with dementia is also something that is very close to home for me. My stepfather had dementia, but he sang and talked about music up until the end of his life.
Why do you think music is so important to people with dementia?
J: Dementia is so unforgiving, but music seems to cut through everything and has the power to enhance the quality of life for people living with it.
I was really surprised that only 5% of care homes in the UK have music programmes. That’s why I feel it’s so important to provide scientific evidence to show how music can improve life for people living with dementia. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I am working on research that can help provide that evidence and identify how and when music can be used most effectively – particularly in places like care homes.
How do you hope to help Music for my Mind’s work in 2019?
J: There are lots of interesting things going on here already and there’s a great team, so I’m very excited to be part of that. In particular, we’ll be looking at how we generate personalised music playlists for people living with dementia and how we can refine them based on individual responses to music.
For example, we want to start by working with family members of people living with dementia to find out as much as possible about the musical interests between the ages of 14 and 22, when most people’s musical tastes are formed. We’ll be using different technologies to measure people’s emotional responses to the playlists, such as facial expression recognition, movement and pulse monitors.
We’re also hoping to be able to drill down even more, so we can start to identify different patterns. Such as how long the playlist needs to be played before it evokes a response. Is it more effective to play the same playlist or different ones each day? Do we recognise different reactions at different times of day, or to music at a different tempo or key?
This will be really valuable data that will help care homes to use music in the most effective ways for people living with dementia. It’s going to be really interesting to design and conduct studies with more people in 2019.
To read an interview with the Founder of the charity, Prof Keith McAdam, click here.