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tessitura's innovator series

Music for Life

Daisy Swift of Wigmore Hall demonstrates the power of creativity for people living with dementia  

Watch Daisy's Talk
Daisy Smith, seen from the shoulders up, facing forward. She has long brown hair and is smiling.

Daisy SwiftLearning Director, Wigmore Hall

TitleMusic for Life: The power of creativity for people living with dementia


Read/View Time15 min

“We think about chamber music in a conceptual sense. Essentially it’s a kind of music making through which every voice is heard and equally valued,”

says Daisy Swift in this Innovator Series talk, delivered live at the 2019 Tessitura Learning & Community Conference. In the Learning department at Wigmore Hall, “That’s at the heart of what we do.”

Music for Life: Singing with Friends, in partnership with Resonate Arts 

“I believe it’s vital that people who are denied feelings of empowerment, connectedness, community, of equality — people who are marginalised, isolated — have opportunities to engage with the arts,” she says. And so, because music has the powerful ability to forge connections, Wigmore Hall engages with people who are often denied those experiences.

The programme Music for Life, which was founded in 1993 and first came to Wigmore Hall in 2009, engages with people living with dementia. One component of the programme is Singing with Friends, a choir for families living with dementia. 

“We wanted to create something that brought families together," Daisy says: "for partners, friends, family members to take part as equals.” The choir requires no prior singing experience and welcomes every individual’s contribution.

The broad impact of Music for Life reaches far beyond the individuals it serves, touching everyone involved in its activities. And it is growing, with new ventures that include a Partner Schools Programme and a care home residency. 

One of the essential aspects of Music for Life is musical improvisation with the participants, in which everyone is an equal participant. “It validates the creative voices and individual choices of people in the here and now,” Daisy says. More importantly: “It gives status to their voices.” 

“The sense of equality in those circles is astounding. Each individual — musician, person living with dementia, care staff member — is treated as an equal in that space. It’s pure chamber music.” 

A conservatory student improvises with a residential care participant as part of the Music for Life programme


Scroll up to watch Daisy’s talk, recorded live at the 2019 Tessitura Learning & Community Conference in Chicago.

Daisy Smith, seen from the shoulders up, facing forward. She has long brown hair and is smiling.

Daisy Swift

Learning Director

Wigmore Hall

Daisy Swift is passionate about the power that music and the arts have to connect people; to engender equality; to enable expression and exploration of the self, of ideas; to give voice to those who don’t have a platform to be heard; and to create a sense of kinship, of community.

She is committed to playing her part in achieving social justice through the arts, and she is able to do this as Learning Director of Wigmore Hall in London, as Vice Chair of a community primary school governing body, and as a master’s degree student of Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

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