Royal Northern College of Music students show effects of music on people with Parkinson's Disease

Video report by Granada Reports correspondent Tim Scott

Students from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester have been staging a special concert to show the effects of music on people with Parkinson's Disease.

The event is part of an international study which suggests music can help with movement and mood in people living with the condition.

A string quartet and pop music ensemble performed "Playlist for Parkinson’s LIVE," ranging from "music for happiness" to "music to get me going."

The college says 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.

The concert was the first time these results have been shared.

Jane Gilmour took part in the study and found out  how listening to rhythmic music can help people with their mobility.

"It helps people if they freeze. Like getting through a doorway: suddenly you'll freeze - there's an imaginary line, you can't get over that and you just cannot move," she said.

"But if you can get a rhythm in your head then you can listen to it and then suddenly you can move."

What are some of the signs of Parkinson's disease?

  • Handwriting getting smaller

  • Tremors, especially in fingers, hands or feet

  • Uncontrollable movements during sleep

  • Limb stiffness or slow movement

  • Changes to voice or posture

Dr Dawn Rose, Senior Researcher at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland, was involved in the research.

She said: “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.”

Credit: ITV News

Dr Michelle Phillips, Deputy Head of Undergraduate Programmes at the Royal Northern College of Music, said: "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."

The Playlist included:

  • Shotgun (George Ezra)

  • Mr Blue Sky (ELO)

  • Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)

  • Ride of the Valkyries (Richard Wagner)