Music therapy top honour includes Walden's Together in Sound

Professor Helen Odell-Miller sitting by a piano

Professor Helen Odell-Miller - Credit: Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin University has received the highest national honour for its world-leading music therapy work, and in particular its research with people living with dementia, and their families.

It includes the weekly Together in Sound sessions at Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes celebrate excellent, innovation and public benefit in UK higher and further education and are granted every two years by Her Majesty the Queen.

ARU’s Cambridge campus is home to a music therapy clinic and research institute, the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research.

This has a team of 30 researchers, including 20 PhD students at any one time, and is the largest and most influential research unit of its kind in the world.

ARU’s work has contributed to change including the Music for Dementia Commission in the House of Lords in 2018, and NICE guidelines for dementia changing in 2019 to recommend music therapy for people with dementia.

ARU is currently leading the UK arm of one of the largest non-pharmacological trials ever carried out in music therapy, led by the University of Melbourne, Australia, called Homeside.

The international study is testing new approaches for carers and their loved ones living with dementia at home.

Music therapists from ARU also work with the Saffron Hall Trust to provide music therapy for people with dementia and their carers.  

World-class performers, including members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, regularly take part in the weekly Together in Sound sessions.

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Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, Director of ARU’s Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research, said: “On average, someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes and it is expected to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.

“At ARU, our important research examining the benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia is already beginning to influence national policy.  

"Receiving recognition like this, from The Queen, will hopefully further signal the importance of our findings to policymakers both in the UK and abroad.”

Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of ARU, said: “I’d like to congratulate and thank Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE and her team, whose outstanding work has secured us this recognition. 

“More importantly, of course, their expertise, passion and dedication has had a life-changing effect on tens of thousands of people living with dementia, and their families – and that’s something of which we can all be hugely proud.”


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