Emma is an actress, singer songwriter, and a huge advocate of the power of music. When she’s not on stage, she’s holding music masterclasses and workshops, interviewing guests on her podcast
‘Dear Music…’ on what music means to them, and connecting with families through song online.
Earlier this year, Emma raised money for Playlist for Life with an Instagram singalong concert for families to enjoy together during lockdown. Below, she tells us about the memories that shape her own personalised playlist, and why she thinks music is so important for those living with dementia.
I'd recommend personalised playlists in a heartbeat!
How did you first hear about Playlist for Life?
I wanted to try and find a way to give back to the older generation, and so I googled music dementia charities and Playlist for Life was one of the first to come up! I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the fantastic work you do. I’ve recommended the playlist resources to quite a few people since discovering them.
Which song brings back a happy memory from your memory bump?
For me, Shanice’s ‘I Love Your Smile’ never fails to bring a smile to my face! This song instantly transports me to carefree summer days of ice-creams and playing in the garden.
What makes music so powerful?
We have barely scratched the surface of the power of music and the potential that it has to enhance and change people’s lives. Music holds the key to accessing such powerful memories that are incredibly visceral, and within seconds you can be transported to a different time and place. It’s a universal language that can help reduce anxiety, aid communication and calm. And those are just some of the benefits. Music has magical powers and if we cam harness it’s potential and channel it in the right ways, the possibilities are endless!
Why do you think music is important for people living with dementia?
Specific music has the capacity to unlock memories and parts of the brain that appear to be ‘lost’, which not only provides those affected by dementia with a greater quality of life and relief for the confines that dementia places on them, but it also enables them a greater chance of being able to connect and communicate with their loved ones. Which is so hugely beneficial to their wellbeing.
My personalised playlist
I wanna dance with somebody – Whitney Houston
My mum was a keep fit instructor and I have such vivid memories of watching her in complete awe as she taught a room full of women with such charisma and energy. This song was often on her playlist and every time I hear it, I’m immediately transported back to that time. It’s become our song and if ever it comes on at a party, my mum and I will always find each other on the dance floor!
The longest time – Billy Joel
My dad always played music in the car. One of his favourite artists is Billy Joel and whenever I hear this song, I’m strapped into the back seat of the car, singing along to this song at the top of my lungs with my dad. We recently went to see him play at Wembley together and it brought back such special memories.
Ticket to ride – The Carpenters
I had a record player when I was younger and my favourite thing to do was raid my parents’ record collection and listen to the warm, crackly vinyl in my bedroom. I played this song on repeat and it transports me back to being a 10 year old pining for the ‘ boy who’s driving me mad is going away’… I was and still am such a hopeless romantic!
Touch me – Rui Da Silva
This song came out when I was 16 and just starting to find my independence. Everything was so visceral then and the music I was listening to is steeped in memories of those formative years when hormones and emotions are running so high! This song hits me in the heart every time I hear it!
Cavelleria Rusticana – National Philharmonic Orchestra
My grandad was in a brass band and, I since discovered after his passing that he was also a trumpeter in a jazz band during his post in Burma in WWII. I was incredibly close to my grandad and spent hours at his house listening to brass bands and accompanying him and my nana to brass band concerts at Christmas time. This song can reduce me to tears within seconds, but combine that with being performed by a brass band and I am useless to anyone for a good 30 minutes! It is so beautifully rousing and I adore it.