Understanding the benefits of community singing groups for people with dementia

Research project: A look into the true benefits and cost effectiveness of community singing for people affected by dementia, through PRESIDE (Pilot Randomised Evaluation of Singing in Dementia)

Lead Investigator: Professor Justine Schneider

  • Institution: University of Nottingham
  • Grant type: Project grant 
  • Duration: 30 months    
  • Amount: £150,000

Why did we fund this research? 

Comments from our Research Network volunteers:

'This is a vital piece of research. It is important that assumptions are not made about the efficacy of interventions... This research will demonstrate the value for money and has the potential to improve the quality of life of many people with dementia and their carers.'

Project summary

Professor Schneider and her team will lay the foundations during this project for a full evaluation of community singing for people with dementia.

In this project she will assess current practise and carry out a small feasibility trial of ‘Singing for the brain’ to begin assessing the benefits and cost effectiveness of this type of service.  


For people with dementia living at home, community singing gives them an opportunity to get out and do something enjoyable. Carers appreciate the social contact, and report that singing sessions can have lasting benefits. 

In 2016, an Alzheimer’s Society survey reported that 5,644 people with dementia and a similar number of carers were participating each month in 333 singing groups. Yet demand for such singing opportunities far exceeds supply.

There is evidence that there are hundreds on waiting lists for ‘Singing for the Brain’. So far there hasn’t been any research to understand the true benefits and cost effectiveness of community singing. This study aims to answer these questions. 

What does this project involve?

This project will lay the foundations for a large trial of ‘Singing for the Brain’ to fully assess the benefits and cost effectiveness of community singing for people with dementia. 

The first phase will gather feedback from ‘Singing for the Brain’ and similar groups, gathering information from people who run and attend them. The research team will examine current practise in the light of rapidly advancing knowledge about music and the brain.

The second phase of the study will explore how best to carry out a robust trial of community singing in dementia. They will look at the best way to recruit people with dementia and their carers to join the study. The team will then run a 6 month trial of 160 people with dementia and their carers across 6 locations in the Nottingham area. They will compare the well-being of singing participants and the well-being of individuals on the waiting list to join a group. 

This small feasibility trial will enable the research team to find out if a full, large scale trial is realistic. If so, the team will apply for further funding from the National Institute of Health Research to continue this research on a larger scale. 

How will this help people affected by dementia? 

Services such as community singing can be a life line for some people with dementia and their carers. This project will begin to provide evidence of the benefits and cost effectiveness of these groups for the first time which could be essential when considering future investment into this type of service both for the charity and for other care providers.