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Kirrie Connections on song with £7,000 boost from Four Notes viral pianist dementia fund

Kirrie Connections singin' group
Christine Kydd leads the Kirrie's Singin' group.

Kirrie Connections is celebrating support from a fund set up by a musician living with dementia whose composition became a viral sensation last year.

Paul Harvey’s Four Notes work was recorded as a single by the BBC Philharmonic after his son shared the 80-year-old’s piano playing on social media.

It led to the setting up of a £500,000 fund, which is now helping 30 projects around the UK to deliver musical services for those living with dementia.

Christine Kydd.

The £7,000 grant from Music for Dementia’s Paul and Nick Harvey Fund will enable the Angus charity to continue its weekly Kirrie’s Singin’ group.

It is led by award-winning traditional singer Christine Kydd.

Music for Dementia is a national campaign calling for music to be made accessible for everyone living with dementia.

Research and lived experiences show it can help reduce the often-distressing symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, apathy and anxiety.

Zoom music sessions

Pre-Covid, the Kirrie’s Singin’ group met every Friday afternoon.

Each session features a wide variety of different music.

Classic songs come from suggestions and requests within the group, with choir leader Christine introducing new music to challenge group members and develop new themes.

The Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame figure also leads the group in writing new songs together.

Kirrie’s Singin’ members enjoy musical favourites and create their own songs. Pic: Louise Kerr.

When the first lockdown came in last year the group knew it would be vitally important to stay in contact with its members.

It made the move online in weekly Zoom sessions.

Kirrie’s Singin’ continues to send out a weekly songsheet as the group works towards returning to meetings in the new Kirrie Connections base at the Roods.

Joy of music

Music for Dementia programme director, Grace Meadows, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Kirrie Connections and others across the UK with a grant from the Paul and Nick Harvey Fund.

“Musical services have been severely impacted in the last year, meaning many people living with dementia and their carers have lost those important connections and special moments that only music can provide.

“By directing the fund money towards community-based, musical services for people living with dementia and those that provide them, we are able to bring the joy of music into people’s lives wherever they are on their dementia journey.”

Kirrie Connections CEO, Graham Galloway, said: “As we slowly start to come out of lockdown it is more important than ever that we can continue to offer the joyful communal experience of group singing to our members.”

Line of Duty star Vicky McClure is among those to have hailed the fund’s support for music organisations across the UK.

Social media sensation

Paul Harvey is a former classical pianist and music teacher, now in his 80s and living with dementia.

His spontaneous Four Notes composition, videoed by his son, Nick, went viral across social media in September 2020.

It was orchestrated by a BBC Philharmonic player and recorded by them in October, then made available as a single.

Music for Dementia was nominated by the father and son to receive half of the sales proceeds, alongside Alzheimer’s Society.

Scots philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter made a £1 million donation to the Alzheimer’s Society and Music for Dementia after being moved by 80-year-old Paul’s performance.

Radio 4 broadcast the recording for World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21.

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