Training Manual Bibliography

This page should be used alongside the Integrating Playlist for Life into Care workbook.

Understanding the power of music

1. Listening to a personal playlist can 

  • Help people connect and reunite families (1) 
  • Reduce the need for drugs (2–4) 
  • Help manage moods (5) 
  • Calm people down (3,4) 
  • Improve Communication and relationships (6–10) 

1.2 A little bit about the science 

Music is special. It stimulates many parts of the brain at once. Even if one part of the brain is damaged, music can still reach other parts  (11,12) 

Graphical image of a brain showing the function of various areas and how they relate to music

1.3 Musical effects – how many ring a bell with you? 

There is more and more research into the special effects music can have. How many of these do you recognise from your own life and experience? 

Music can relieve pain – Surgery patients have reported up to four times reduction in post-surgical pain when listening to music (13)

Music can change your mood – Music stimulates the parts of your brain connected to ‘pleasure’ (14)

Music can make you healthier – Calming music decreases blood pressure, steadies the heart rate and eases stress. There is also preliminary evidence that suggests music can boost the immune system by cutting stress hormones and boosting growth hormones (15)

Music can distract and command attention – Familiar music commands attention. That is why adverts use hit tunes – to win you back when you’ve gone to put the kettle on. In the training you will get a chance to experience this.


1.5 The Gerdner protocol 

Professor Linda Gerdner at Stanford University has spent more than 20 years researching the ways personal music can help people living with dementia. She has developed a protocol – or way of doing things – that shows how to find the right music and then how to schedule listening to it to reduce: 

  1. Use of psychotropic medication
  2. Use of restraints
  3. Stress and distressed behaviours
  4. Wandering.

You can find the full Gerdner Protocol online. Simply search for ‘Gerdner Protocol 5th Edition’. It should be one of the top results and is called ‘Evidence-Based Guideline: Individualized Music for Persons with Dementia (5th Edition)’(16) 

1.6 Benefits of personal playlists 

Benefits for people living with dementia 

  1. Calmer, leading to a decreased use of strong medication, especially sedatives (3,4) 
  2. Improved communication and connection with others (6–10) 
  3. Eating more, improved continence – probably because people are more alert and using less medication (17) 
  4. Decreased agitation and anxiety (18–20) Which could lead to fewer incidents including falls   

Benefits for families 

  1. Less stress because their loved one is calmer and there is a new way to communicate  (8,10,21,22) 
  2. Increased self-perception of their ability to care for the person living with dementia (1) 
  3. Listening can provide times of respite, particularly on difficult days (23,24) 
  4. Listening together provides a point of connection, reminiscence and communication (25) 
  5. Listening sessions can provide a responsive structure and focus for visits (26) 

Benefits for staff members 

  1. Can facilitate smooth transitions at times of stress or distress e.g. bath time, meals (27) 
  2. Can create a positive, familiar atmosphere even in an unfamiliar or distressing environment (28,29) 
  3. It’s fun! (30) 

Benefits for volunteers 

  1. Works hand in hand with life story work (25) 
  2. Can be used as a stand alone activity, both the research part and using the playlist (31) 
  3. Can be used in background when carrying out other activities (32) 
  4. Can create whole group playlists where relevant (33) 
  5. It’s fun! (30) 

Further reading 
In addition, we have listed various academic research outcomes to underline the benefits of personally meaningful music for people living with dementia below. Furthermore, you can access this regularly updated bibliography of academic research into music and dementia. 

Reference List:

1.  Bufalini J, Eslinger P, Lehman E, George DR. Effects of a Personalized Music Intervention for Persons with Dementia and their Caregivers. J Alzheimers Dis Rep. 6(1):43–8.

  1. Bakerjian D, Bettega K, Cachu AM, Azzis L, Taylor S. The Impact of Music and Memory on Resident Level Outcomes in California Nursing Homes. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020 Aug;21(8):1045-1050.e2.
  2. Thomas KS, Baier R, Kosar C, Ogarek J, Trepman A, Mor V. Individualized Music Program is Associated with Improved Outcomes for U.S. Nursing Home Residents with Dementia. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017 Sep 1;25(9):931–8.
  3. Long EM. An Innovative Approach to Managing Behavioral and Psychological Dementia. J Nurse Pract. 2017 Jul 1;13(7):475–81.
  4. The Roth Project – Music and Memory: A Community Agency Initiated Individualized Music Intervention for People with Dementia – PMC [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 14]. Available from:
  5. Huron D. Is Music an Evolutionary Adaptation? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Jun;930(1):43–61.
  6. Keeler J, Roth E, Neuser B, Spitsbergen J, Waters D, Vianney JM. The neurochemistry and social flow of singing: bonding and oxytocin. Front Hum Neurosci [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Mar 9];9. Available from:
  7. Narme P, Clément S, Ehrlé N, Schiaratura L, Vachez S, Courtaigne B, et al. Efficacy of musical interventions in dementia: evidence from a randomized controlled trial. J Alzheimers Dis JAD. 2014;38(2):359–69.
  8. Sakamoto M, Ando H, Tsutou A. Comparing the effects of different individualized music interventions for elderly individuals with severe dementia. Int Psychogeriatr. 2013 May;25(5):775–84.
  9. Särkämö T, Tervaniemi M, Laitinen S, Numminen A, Kurki M, Johnson JK, et al. Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Benefits of Regular Musical Activities in Early Dementia: Randomized Controlled Study. The Gerontologist. 2014 Aug 1;54(4):634–50.
  10. Altenmüller E, Schlaug G. Apollo’s gift: new aspects of neurologic music therapy. Prog Brain Res. 2015;217:237–52.
  11. Jacobsen JH, Stelzer J, Fritz TH, Chételat G, La Joie R, Turner R. Why musical memory can be preserved in advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Brain. 2015 Aug 1;138(8):2438–50.
  12. Hole J, Hirsch M, Ball E, Meads C. Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Lond Engl. 2015 Oct 24;386(10004):1659–71.
  13. Salimpoor VN, Benovoy M, Larcher K, Dagher A, Zatorre RJ. Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Feb;14(2):257–62.
  14. Thoma MV, Marca RL, Brönnimann R, Finkel L, Ehlert U, Nater UM. The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response. PLOS ONE. 2013 Aug 5;8(8):e70156.
  15. Gerdner LA. Individualized music for dementia: Evolution and application of evidence-based protocol. World J Psychiatry. 2012 Apr 22;2(2):26–32.
  16. Cohen D, Post SG, Lo A, Lombardo R, Pfeffer B. “Music & Memory” and improved swallowing in advanced dementia. Dementia. 2020 Feb 1;19(2):195–204.
  17. McDermott O, Crellin N, Ridder HM, Orrell M. Music therapy in dementia: a narrative synthesis systematic review. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;28(8):781–94.
  18. Raglio A, Bellelli G, Mazzola P, Bellandi D, Giovagnoli AR, Farina E, et al. Music, music therapy and dementia: a review of literature and the recommendations of the Italian Psychogeriatric Association. Maturitas. 2012 Aug;72(4):305–10.
  19. O’Connor DW, Ames D, Gardner B, King M. Psychosocial treatments of psychological symptoms in dementia: a systematic review of reports meeting quality standards. Int Psychogeriatr. 2009 Apr;21(2):241–51.
  20. Särkämö T, Laitinen S, Numminen A, Kurki M, Johnson JK, Rantanen P. Pattern of Emotional Benefits Induced by Regular Singing and Music Listening in Dementia. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Feb;64(2):439–40.
  21. Ridder HMO, Stige B, Qvale LG, Gold C. Individual music therapy for agitation in dementia: an exploratory randomized controlled trial. Aging Ment Health. 2013;17(6):667–78.
  22. Lewis V, Bauer M, Winbolt M, Chenco C, Hanley F. A study of the effectiveness of MP3 players to support family carers of people living with dementia at home. Int Psychogeriatr. 2015 Mar;27(3):471–9.
  23. Ihara ES, Tompkins CJ, Inoue M, Sonneman S. Results from a person-centered music intervention for individuals living with dementia. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2019;19(1):30–4.
  24. Baird A, Thompson WF. The Impact of Music on the Self in Dementia. J Alzheimers Dis JAD. 2018;61(3):827–41.
  25. Clements-Cortés A. Singing for Health, Connection and Care. Music Med. 2015 Oct 31;7(4):13–23.
  26. Ray KD, Fitzsimmons S. Music-Assisted Bathing: Making Shower Time Easier for People with Dementia. J Gerontol Nurs. 2014 Feb;40(2):9–13.
  27. Raglio A, Filippi S, Bellandi D, Stramba-Badiale M. Global music approach to persons with dementia: evidence and practice. Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Nov 24;9:1669–76.
  28. Son GR, Therrien B, Whall A. Implicit memory and familiarity among elders with dementia. J Nurs Scholarsh Off Publ Sigma Theta Tau Int Honor Soc Nurs. 2002;34(3):263–7.
  29. Kuot A, Barton E, Tiri G, McKinlay T, Greenhill J, Isaac V. Personalised music for residents with dementia in an Australian rural aged-care setting. Aust J Rural Health. 2021;29(1):71–7.
  30. McShane D. Using personalised music to enhance the well-being of people with dementia [Internet]. Mental Health Practice; [cited 2023 Mar 27]. Available from:
  31. Guétin S, Portet F, Picot MC, Pommié C, Messaoudi M, Djabelkir L, et al. Effect of Music Therapy on Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Alzheimer’s Type Dementia: Randomised, Controlled Study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2009;28(1):36–46.
  32. Holmes C, Knights A, Dean C, Hodkinson S, Hopkins V. Keep music live: music and the alleviation of apathy in dementia subjects. Int Psychogeriatr. 2006 Dec;18(4):623–30.