Penn Today

Can music improve anxiety and depression for people with memory disorders?

The program is called “Creative Expression through Music,” and gives Penn Memory Center (PMC) patients with any level of cognitive impairment, from mild decline to Alzheimer’s disease, the chance to interact with Curtis Institute musicians in a comfortable setting. Some iteration of the collaboration has occurred for the past four years, initiated by Curtis’ Mary Javian, but this is the first classroom-based session that includes Curtis undergrads, Penn graduate students, and PMC patients. Based on the pilot program’s success, two additional seven-week sessions will begin later in January.

“It was about presenting PMC patients with an opportunity to engage in music in a way that’s enriching and stimulated them to improve their quality of life,” says Volpe, a second-year master’s student in the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). “That’s something to get behind.”