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March 07, 2006 4:00 PM

Radio 1 and Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway has officially opened a new music studio at Gartnavel Royal Hospital, marking the official launch of NHS Greater Glasgow's Polyphony Music Studio.

Polyphony is a project that uses music to help treat patients in the hospital's mental health wards. In addition to recognising the established calming effects of making music, the project is also part of a wider academic research study into the medical benefits for both mental health patients and those in Care of the Elderly wards.

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Alistair Wilson says they have seen considerable differences in patients since the beginnings of the venture two years ago: "It's quite difficult to put into words, but basically making music is a way of communicating for people who - because of their illnesses - might otherwise find it impossible to communicate.

"If you imagine how frustrated you'd feel if you weren't able to express your feelings, then you'd realise how important it is just to be able to let those emotions out. But we're beginning to realise it can actually do much more than that, and that it might even improve their condition."

Research is being undertaken at Polyphony by academics from Glasgow Caledonian University to find out whether using music as a therapeutic tool can improve the physical and cognitive functioning and mood among patients with dementia. Researcher Julie DeSimone says results are already very encouraging: "We're very excited. This is a very interesting intervention. Pilot studies have already shown a positive benefit".

The project began in January 2004, by offering lessons in listening, composing and singing to patients in Care of the Elderly wards at Gartnavel. Dr Wilson says the results there sparked off a much bigger project: "We worked with some patients in the Alzheimer's assessment ward and we found it had great effects in keeping them alert. Naturally, we then wanted to see how great the effects could be in adults and adolescents with mental health disabilities."

The studio is fully equipped for composing, playing and recording music. The purchasing of the technology was made possible through a grant of £180, 000 from the National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund. Dharmendra Kanani, Director of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: "The Polyphony project is a wonderful example of the kind of project that the Big Lottery Fund is proud to support. We want our funding to really touch the lives of people and communities across Scotland.

"This project shows how something as universal as music can make a huge difference to the lives of people with mental health concerns."

Radio 1 and Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway officially opened the project, commenting: "I think Polyphony is an incredibly worthwhile project. Mental illness and debilitating mental disease are a real problem in Scotland and beyond and it's great to see people using music as therapy and inspiration for people who suffer. Music is one of the greatest uniting forces we have in the world, and this project will hopefully go to show what an incredible benefit it can have on those who really need it.

"I was delighted to be asked along to the Polyphony launch today, and I was really pleased by what I saw."

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Last Updated: 06 February 2015