Music ‘keeps your brain going’, says 79-year-old organist from Cardiff

A man from Cardiff has said playing music throughout his life has helped to improve his brain health.

Martyn Ridge began playing the piano when he was just seven years old and said music helps to keep his brain active.

He said: “If you make the brain work and read music, it’s bound to have a good effect.”

A recent study released by Exeter University found playing a musical instrument or singing in a choir is linked to better memory and thinking skills in older age.

Martyn Ridge says playing the organ has helped improve his brain health

The research involved over 1,100 individuals aged 40 and above, with an average age of 68.

The piano was the instrument most associated with better brain health in those over the age of 40.

One of the report’s authors, Professor Anne Corbett, suggests that music may be a way of exercising the brain’s agility and resilience.

But, she did emphasise that taking up a musical instrument is not a prevention for dementia.

The dementia charity, Forget-Me-Nots Chorus, creates group singing sessions for people with all forms of dementia.

Kate Woolveridge, CEO Forget-Me-Nots Chorus

Kate Woolveridge, the CEO of the charity, claimed engagement with music can be beneficial even when patients are living with the disease.

She said: “It’s about setting up the right environment, and then whatever brain function is available will be at its optimum.

“There is scientific evidence [to suggest] that the parts of the brain that sing often are undamaged by Alzheimer’s disease.”

She added that Wales is leading when is comes providing sessions that support individuals with dementia through music.

For older people in Cardiff like Martyn – who says music has been the love of his life – it’s important that more young people will take up playing a musical instrument in the future.