A GROUP of people with dementia and their carers have been taught how to perform classical music to challenge perceptions of the condition.

The Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) Orchestra, which has been running for two years, aims to form an inclusive and supportive group for people affected by the condition.

In front of a small audience, the aspiring musicians played violins, guitars and coconut shells with the accompaniment of some professional classical musicians.

Music performed by the orchestra in the Talbot Hall at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus yesterday afternoon included Ravel’s Bolero, the Jaws theme song and a piece by South African pianist and composer, Abdullah Ibrahim, amongst other music.

Andy Baker from the Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) Orchestra, said: “It was originally set up as a project to see if people with dementia could learn a piece of music and we found that they could. It triggered memories from their past and we found that there was a place for this orchestra.”

Staff from the BBC’s Inside Out programme were filming the performance of the orchestra to highlight its success since it was formed.

“We have funding for another year from the Arts Council and the BBC were interested in making a programme about it.

“There’s about 20 people who are part of the orchestra. We put professional musicians in to play the music and then members of the orchestra count along to join in with the beats and rhythms of the music.”

It is thought that music works different parts of the brain, which can be stimulating for people with memory loss.

Margaret Stark, 81, from Winton, is part of the orchestra along with her husband, Mike, who has dementia.

She said: “We’d be lost without it and for those that are coming along. We get to share views. It’s lovely. It’s the camaraderie when we get together.”

The Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) Orchestra was originally formed as a collaboration between the university, Dorset County Council and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO).

As well as supporting people to learn a new skill or re-learn an old one, the orchestra aimed to challenge people’s attitudes and the stigma around dementia.

BUDI aims to better understand the challenges faced by people are affected by dementia so they can receive better support.