Home Activities Taking the power of music to where people need it – The Spitz celebrates 10 years of using live music to transform lives

Taking the power of music to where people need it – The Spitz celebrates 10 years of using live music to transform lives

by Kirsty Kirsty

The Spitz Charitable Trust – which takes its name from the iconic London music venue where the charity’s founder and many of its musicians created years of magic – is celebrating 10 years of delivering brilliant, interactive live music that is improving peoples’ health and wellbeing note by note.

While The Spitz music venue closed its doors for the last time in 2007, its team continues to advocate for the power of music to help bring moments of joy and connection, albeit on a smaller, more intimate scale.

The Spitz was awarded charitable status on 12 December 2013 and, over the past ten years it has been changing lives with live music performances from some of the professionals who performed at the original Spitz venue.

Some of the UK’s finest musicians and singers such as Alice Zawadzki, Ben Hazleton and Marcus Bonfanti can now be seen providing intimate, participatory music sessions for those who need it most, from babies in intensive care to people who’ve suffered brain injuries and those receiving end of life care.

Every session, whether it is a public event or one-to-one, has the ultimate goal of easing anxiety, encouraging interaction and creating moments of joy.

Lauren Laverne, radio broadcaster and TV personality, visited The Spitz in 2021. She said: “To walk into this care home and hear those music sessions was just such a joy. Music connects us as human beings and is such an important part of who we are.”

The Spitz is celebrating its 10-year milestone with a party for residents and musicians at Bridgeside Lodge Care Home, Islington, where it has been based since 2018. It has allowed Spitz musicians to develop a really unique bond with residents and staff, which enables them to have an even greater impact.

Resident, JR (41), who had a severe brain injury two years ago, has been writing songs with Spitz musicians for the past year and will perform his latest song “I’ll go to bed when you’re gone” at the party. Sassy and loud, it is a true reflection of JR’s personality which has flourished as a result of his time with The Spitz.

Jane Glitre, Founding Director of The Spitz says: “For the last 10 years, we’ve been working with some of the world’s most talented jazz, folk and blues musicians, experimenting with and refining how to harness the power of music – to build connections and lift spirits – with a personalised approach. Our musicians develop meaningful relationships with our beneficiaries and their families and help them nurture memories and build new ones based on the music that ignites their souls. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved and the impact we’ve been able to make.”

The Spitz’s work is a prime example of why many are now calling for music to become an integral part of healthcare. Recognition about the power of music to improve health and wellbeing has never been higher, and a coalition of high-profile partners including the National Academy for Social Prescribing, Music for Dementia and Universal Music UK have been working hard to launch new initiatives that will make an even greater impact.

Alison Teader from NAPA Arts in Care Homes says: “The Spitz is a best-in-class example of musical excellence. The quality and passion of its musicians is second to none, and the work it delivers at Bridgeside Lodge Care Home is outstanding.”

The Spitz has recently been invited to play at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where it has been performing everything from Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran to Baby Shark. It is hoped that this new relationship with the children’s hospital will become a longstanding one, with work similar to that it does in Northwick Park Hospital (NPH).

NPH dementia consultant Dr Mahua Chatterjee and The Spitz recently organised a two-week pilot study to understand the impact live music had on patients’ moods. Some 88% of responses noted a change occurred after The Spitz performed.*

Alex Lukjaniec is the Matron for Older People and Dementia Services at NPH said of the study: “Reaching out to The Spitz was one of the best things we could have done. Not only are the musicians talented, but their compassion, kindness and empathy puts them miles ahead of any other ‘music charity’ we have had previous experience with. We’ve seen patients completely transform during sessions.”

To further mark turning 10, The Spitz is also launching a new website and PR campaign to raise awareness of the pioneering work, and running a new crowdfunding campaign in the new year. 

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