Breaking through the dementia ‘fog’ with singing sessions

Posted by: Elspeth Fessey

Wed 29th November 2023

Singing sessions for those living with Dementia in Derbyshire are growing in popularity – and the sessions, which take place in our area, are set to get all festive in the run up to Christmas.

Ellie Fessey runs regular Singing for the Brain sessions at The Junction 28 Church in South Normanton, Pinxton Village Hall, and at The Bridge Baptist Church in Sutton In Ashfield.
Here Ellie tells us all about her work as well as the benefits of her groups to their participants.
Ellie told the Spirit of Alfreton: “I have been working with music to connect people for the last three years in care homes and community groups.
“In August last year, I fulfilled an ambition to work with the Alzheimer’s Society to bring Singing For The Brain into our community.
“The first was started last year in Pinxton, this has grown into a wonderful group with nearly 50 members.
“I opened another group in Sutton In Ashfield back in May and this group is growing very nicely and new members are joining each time we meet and establishing well.
“I also started a new group in South Normanton back in October, which again is growing very nicely.
“These groups are obviously Dementia friendly as I am an official delivery partner of Singing For The Brain for the Alzheimer’s Society. But the group is filled with many different types of people, some living with varying aspects of Dementia and some people attend purely as a social gathering with lots of laughter, singing and spending time with a friendly bunch of people.
“You do not have to be good at singing, as it is a very informal gathering of like minded people that enjoy singing and music as a social activity. The whole point of the group is to have fun.”
Ellie continued: “I have personal and professional experience of living with Dementia, as my mum lived with it for seven years and I became an activity co ordinator at a local care home.
“I have seen first hand the power of music and it’s ability to connect people. This is heightened somehow for people living with Dementia, it manages to break through the fog that Dementia brings and triggers memories, creates comforting and familiar feelings that conventional conversation is unable to.
“Whichever form of Dementia a person has and no matter where they are along their journey through it, music is a great comfort and enables them to express themselves with confidence.
“The brain has this incredible music memory and the comfort and familiarity this brings is truly wonderful to see and hear.
“The term “Living With Dementia” applies not only to the person themself, but also their family and friends, who are ultimately the carers.
“Emotional support is just as important to family members, friends and carers, as it is to the person with Dementia.
“Our group offers this very discretely, as everyone understands and no judgements are made. I am fully DBS checked and trained in safe guarding vulnerable people, with the full backing and support of the Alzheimer’s Society.
“Our group is a friendly and safe place to come, to socialise and have some fun.”
Ellie added: “I receive no financial backing or funding from the Alzheimer’s Society, it is my responsibility to organise and raise any funding needed to deliver these Singing for The Brain groups.
“For these sessions, I charge a small entrance fee of £4, including refreshments, to cover the costs involved.
“People that are attending along with a person with Dementia, pay a 50 per cent reduced rate of the entrance fee. Professional carers do not have to pay the entrance fee.”

As from in the New Year the Singing for the Brain sessions will take place at:

The Junction 28 Church in South Normanton on Tuesday, January 9 and every other Tuesday at 11am-12.30pm.

Pinxton Village Hall on Monday, January 15, and then every other Monday between 1.15pm-2.45pm

The Bridge Baptist Church & Community Centre in Sutton In Ashfield on Thursday, January 4, and every other Thursday at 10.30am-Midday.

Meanwhile, Ellie has a number of festive events coming up during her sessions in our area – see the posters below for more details.
To find out more information about what Ellie offers through her singing sessions, go to here

Are you running a similar community well-being group in our area? Email our Editor Belinda at, or upload your story direct to our website here