The first Northern Music Awards will help fund a music therapy centre in Greater Manchester

  • ITV Granada Reports correspondent Elaine Willcox explores the power of music therapy

Some of the artists nominated for the first-ever Northern Music Awards have been taking part in music therapy sessions for those living with dementia.They are run by the charity Nordoff and Robbins who want to create a dedicated therapy centre in Salford - using music to help make vital connections for those socially isolated, or with disabilities.

Every week, residents living with dementia at The Fed Heathlands Village in Prestwich have a specialist music therapy session.

Joanne Selig said the music therapy sessions were something her late father really enjoyed Credit: ITV Granada

Joanne Selig's late father and now her mother in law live there and she said it is a joy to see how the therapy transforms people's moods and provokes memories.

"It’s wonderful to see them smiling along and joining in and something we could do together as well, but hold hands and sing together."

The residents also enjoy petting her dog, Sherlock Bones who she takes on her visits.

David Robinson has taken sessions at The Fed for 9 years Credit: ITV Granada

David Robinson, Music Therapist and Head of Music Services (Delivery) at the charity, said: “It has to be tailored to where that person is in that moment. We use improvisation and go where the memory takes people."

"The music therefore has to change and flex to be with that person, to help bridge and support that connection moment by moment.”

Nine of our granada introducing acts are nominated at the Northern Music Awards, including soul and jazz artist Mica Millar, whose grandad had dementia.

Mica said: " In the session it was actually quite emotional because, gradually you can see maybe them singing along, coming up with a couple of lyrics."

"And we did do a lot of that with my grandad, he'd love to have a sing along."

"When I was writing, he had a habit of going round and turning all the plug switches off in the house, so the computer would just turn off and I lost a few hit songs probably."

Mica Millar joined the music therapy session in Prestwich Credit: ITV Granada

It also brought back powerful memories too for pop poet Antony Smzierek who joined in the singing.

The spoken word, indie hip hop artist from Hyde, will open the awards with a specially commissioned piece about the power of music therapy.

“It was really, really beautiful. It was nice to see immediately how it helped.”

“But it's lovely to see that when those chords come in for Singing in the Rain - they're right back.

It's the same my grandmother and Nat King Cole. It was for us. So we play "Unforgettable". And she'll be back right away."

The staff at Beach house says the sessions have a calming effect ... which lasts all day.

Team leader Sally Williams said: "We have one resident who that that's the highlight of a week she absolutely loves it."

The charity hopes to be able to share the power of music with more people when it builds a dedicated centre earmarked for Salford.

Liam Fray from indie rock royalty Courteeners will take to the stage at the inaugural Nordoff and Robbins Northern Music Awards with a special live acoustic performance.

They will be joined by Manchester legend Lisa Stansfield, Warrington’s rising stars The K’s and the up-and-coming Leeds quartet, English Teacher.

Tickets are now on sale for the Awards taking place on Tuesday 23 April 2024 at Manchester’s iconic Albert Hall.

Resurrected in 2013 after being closed for over 40 years, the Grade II listed Wesleyan chapel has been restored into a stunning purpose-built music hall and is one of the most atmospheric music and events venues in the UK.

The awards will be hosted by BBC Radio Six Music Presenter Chris Hawkins who champions new music on his show.

"I'm very proud to be hosting the Northern Music Awards 2024. It's an incredible line up."

The charity said: "The performance-packed show will help to fundraise for Nordoff and Robbins’ vision to open a dedicated state of the art music therapy centre for Greater Manchester – and will kickstart a new chapter in celebrating the diverse talent of the North of England year after year. "

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