Shop now open! Share your love of music and support Playlist for Life. Visit now.

Shop now open! Share your love of music and support Playlist for Life. Visit now.

Five Questions With… Rohini Sharma Joshi

Every fortnight we sit down with a guest working in dementia care to bring you an insight to their role and experience of using meaningful music. This week we speak to Rohini Sharma Joshi, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Age Scotland.

Listen to Rohini's personalised playlist at the end of the feature.

We first became acquainted when you led a project focused on building a playlist of Bollywood songs to encourage older people from South Asian communities to think about music that would feature on your ‘playlist for life’. What motivated this project? 

When approached by Playlist for Life to develop a playlist for ethnic minority older people, I knew was something that South Asian older people would be onboard with as Bollywood music would have been a big part of their lives growing up. I also knew that I would personally enjoy seeing it come to life.

The idea to involve older people in the development of a playlist of their favourite songs which they can listen to from a source was the vision and we called it Bollywood Favourites. Older South Asian people from across Scotland were invited to send their five favourite songs to add to the list and we had lots of responses from all across Scotland. With internal advice and technical support, these responses formed the Bollywood Favourites playlist on Spotify.

I knew that the project would be a great success as people would feel they had been a part of it in its development, help to revoke memories and bring them joy in listening to their favourite songs. What I predicted became reality when we launched the project in November 2023, it was a joyous day to watch older people singing and dancing to the tunes. It continues to be a favourite playlist for older people and myself as we personally connect with the songs.

Can you tell us about a time you’ve seen the power of music in action, either in dementia care or another scenario?

I have seen it more than once! Whenever there is singing at any South Asians older people groups, older people are not only join in, but many will sing their favourite songs to the audience. Hearing songs that they are deeply connected with empowers them to have confidence to sing front of a crowd and others will take part as they reminisce over old favourites. The power of music can be seen with even those who are usually quiet, remembering lyrics and singing along. 

Your role is crucial in keeping older people connected. What inspires you in your job?

I thrive on any project which helps older communities feel included. It was a personal joy and pleasure to develop the Bollywood Favourites project as like others of my and older generation, Bollywood songs are an integral part of South Asian lives. There is no event, celebration, wedding, or gathering without singing or songs being played and often people dance to them too. Using music in projects contributes to learning and building relations between different communities which develops understanding and is a joy to be shared. Seeing older people being a part of something new and enjoying it motivates me and it’s a huge honour to do as part of my line of work.

What’s one thing you do for your own health that you would recommend to others?

Do something which you personally enjoy and makes you happy! Doing the things that make us happy can boost our spirit and it’s good for our body and mind. If it works for me and makes me happy, I hope it will work for others too.

Next time, we’ll be talking to Henry Simmons, Alzheimer Scotland’s Chief Executive Director, as part of Dementia Awareness Week. 

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Rohini's personal playlist

Bade Acche Lagte Hain by Amit Kumar

I love this song for its simplicity and innocent love.

AAJ Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai by Lata Mangeshkar

This song is for all women, it uplifts the spirit and empowers.   

Kisi Ki Muskurahaton Se by Mukesh

This song is about humanity, and how living for others can make life meaningful.

Hum Tumhen Chahte Hain – from Quarbani by Kanchan. 

This is a love song takes me back to younger days. A group of friends listened to it on a vinyl record player when it came out.

Tere Bina Zindagi Se (From Aandhi) by Lata Mangeshkar

One of my favourites for its beautiful and poetic lyrics.