Peter talks to the Lords

OCTOBER 12: Choir bass Peter Smith gave evidence yesterday at the House of Lords to a commission investigating the benefits of music for dementia patients.  Peter, who suffers from dementia himself, testified passionately about how singing brings thrilling physical sensations, aids memory, and inspires a sense of fellowship with other choir members – and he name-checked the Croydon Male Voice Choir while doing so.

Peter at the House of Lords

Peter was one of four speakers at a two-hour session chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross, chair of the Commission on Dementia and Music.   Apart from singing with CMVC, Peter described attending two nine-week Singing for the Brain courses, where dementia patients spend an hour singing old favourites such as Danny Boy and Delilah. 

He told the commission members they would find it “uplifting and inspiring” if they attended a session.  Peter also described taking part in a choir which sang at the Alzheimer’s Society candlelit Christmas Service at Southwark Cathedral – another “truly uplifting experience”.

Peter – who admitted he still could not read music properly, despite being a choir and altar boy – also told of concerts and performances in local churches, cathedrals and overseas, many with CMVC.  “Remembering words for public performances helps keep my brain active and improves my memory, mitigating problems remembering scores which would be impossible if singing alone.”

Peter received resounding applause for his contribution – the only speaker to do so.   He said afterwards: "The opportunity to give evidence in the House of Lords was very satisfying, and I hope that being open in that way will help others. I was most gratified to be the only speaker to receive a round of applause - really moving!"