A therapeutic
group music program

for people with mild cognitive impairment and dementia

Olivia Brancatisano, Joanne Cook, Amee Baird & William F. Thompson

Why music?

Music is a powerful stimulus that can have a range of beneficial effects on both healthy people and those with neurological disorders such as dementia, stroke or Parkinson’s Disease.

7 attributes of music

  1. Engaging
  2. Persuasive
  3. Elicits physical movements
  4. It encourages us to synchronise
  5. Social 
  6. Can stimulate personal memories
  7. Can stimulate emotional responses.

Development of the MMM program

The MMM program (Music, Mind and Movement) has been developed as a therapeutic group program which involves 7 weekly sessions that are based on the 7 attributes of music. It aims to incorporate both active and passive music activities that engage the individual, stimulate physical movement and encourage communication, such as sharing memories evoked by favourite songs.


The MMM program has been piloted with people with a diagnosis of dementia at Warabrook Baptist aged care facility (Newcastle). The results of this study forms part of the formed PhD thesis of Olivia Brancatisano, supervised by Dr Amee Baird and Professor Bill Thompson. The study is currently submitted for publication and is under peer review.

Aims of the MMM program

The MMM program aims to target specific domains of functioning which are known to benefit from the positive effects of music:

1. Cognition

(e.g. memory and attention)- Familiar, personally preferred music can access autobiographical (personal) memories. Further, listening to and engaging in musical activities can enhance attention and facilitate expressive language.

2. Motor skills

(verbal and motor fluency)- Rhythmic music and synchronising physical movements with others can facilitate movement.

3. Psychosocial functions

(mood and identity)- Favourite songs promote reminiscence which can enhance the sense of self.

4. Behaviour

(agitation and social withdrawal)- Being part of a group music program encourages individuals to socialise. In addition, employing musical exercises that facilitate social interaction, such as playing music in synchrony with each other, allows for social bonding.

Who is this program designed for?

Anyone can participate in the MMM program, but it has been specifically designed for people with neurological disorders such as dementia or Parkinson’s Disease. Individuals with a hearing or language impairment may have difficulty participating.

This website

This website is a step-by-step guide of how to run the MMM program. It details the types of music activities to include to maximise the effect of the 7 music attributes.
Each session outline describes a range of activities that are relevant to each music feature and can be adapted as you wish. If you require more detailed information please request a pdf of the formal manual via the contact page.