Continued commitment to research through our newly established Research Arm

Coordinated in partnership with Dr. Stuart MacDonald, Dr. Debra Sheets and Dr. André Smith from the University of Victoria

Voices in Motion is pleased to announce that it will continue its commitment to research through its newly established Research Arm, coordinated in partnership with Dr. Stuart MacDonald, Dr. Debra Sheets and Dr. André Smith from the University of Victoria.

“We often hear from researchers who champion the biomedical model, but the goal of our research is to explore the power of group singing as a healthy lifestyle intervention,” says Dr. Stuart MacDonald.”

Executive Director, Rick Bergh, reports that the Research Arm is an evolution of the initial research conducted at the University of Victoria. Many of these soon-to-be published findings show the value choral singing socially and cognitively and the need for ongoing research in this area – one that we at Voices in Motion are pleased to be a part of.

The Research Arm Commitment

“This research needs to continue,” says Dr. Sheets, “in order to encourage policy-makers to view music as a prescriptive intervention that is viable and available to all.”

“We’ve seen the impact of choral music through the Voices project,” says Dr. André Smith, “not only for persons with dementia and their caregivers, but also young people’s lives. Singing together is good for all of us,” continues Dr. Smith, who along with the other researchers, is excited about the newly established Voices in Motion Research Arm.

With four community choirs and one online choir, Voices in Motion provides a choral community that includes not only those with dementia and their caregivers, but also students and friends who are keen to participate in research.

In our first year of the Research Arm, we will be focusing on the following:

Wearable technology is often used to monitor a user’s health. Given that such a device is in close contact with the user, it is an easy and non-invasive way to collect data. Simple watches such as Fitbits can help monitor and track vital signs such as stress levels and the heart will help us see the residual impact of singing together following our rehearsal times.

The majority of those living in long-term care have dementia. Sun-downing and agitation are real issues that impact the quality of life for both residents and staff. The COVID pandemic clearly demonstrated the health and emotional impacts of limited social interaction. Our plan is to continue our pre-COVID work by implementing a choir in a long-term care facility and to measure health outcomes, such as sleeplessness and prescribing activity. We are also hoping to meet with care staff to gather their impressions of attending a choir for themselves and for the resident.

Social prescribing is frequently used in European countries as a means to support the mental health and wellbeing of people living with dementia. As the pharmaceutical options for managing some of the signs and symptoms of dementia are often inadequate at best, and harmful at worst, the idea of engagement in cortex-stimulating activities is used to assist.


We are intersecting research with music in the hopes of providing practical benefits that can be used to help people with dementia and their caregivers to live more fully in the midst of a dementia journey.