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Caring with Music: Can Music Do More In Adult Care Settings?

Learn how music can help you in your work as an adult caregiver and explore ideas from music therapists to use in care settings.

595 enrolled on this course

A female music therapist has her back to the camera playing a hand drum, she is facing a young man playing a smaller drum with a beater
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Discover the benefits of using music interactively

Regardless of our language, culture, or abilities, music speaks to all of us. It can enable us to connect with other people and to the world around us. It can help us express our feelings, increase our socialisation, and communicate in new ways.

On this six-week course, you’ll explore the reasons why music ‘works’ and learn how to apply this knowledge in your adult care setting for positive change.

Using techniques from specially trained Nordoff Robbins music therapists – combined with your own expertise – you’ll explore how to effectively use music with the people you support.

Learn how to use music in care homes and other settings

You’ll explore your own relationship with music before learning how, and why, this can be used as an effective tool in care settings.

Tuning into the people you support, you’ll identify how you can bring music into the daily life of people you care for, such as creating songs and using musical instruments.

You’ll also learn how to plan and facilitate music activity sessions as well as tips to improve the soundscape of your setting.

Understand how to apply concepts such as active listening in your work

The course will help you apply your learning in a practical way and identify all opportunities to use music to benefit your care setting.

Examining concepts such as individual musicality and active listening, you’ll learn how to use music flexibly to enhance your work and caring environment.

Learn from the specialists at Nordoff Robbins

You’ll learn from the experts at Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s largest music therapy charity, whose practice is informed by research.

The course gives you the opportunity to explore the work of a music therapist and develop skills in this field to help provide better care for the people you support.


  • Week 1

    Everyone has a personal relationship with music

    • Introduction to the course

      A warm welcome to the course from our educators - Nordoff Robbins music therapists Jenny and Janet.

    • Everyone has a personal relationship with music

      Music enriches the lives of all of us. Whether it's by listening to music in the car, exercising to your favourite tunes or perhaps by singing or playing an instrument, music is the personal soundtrack to our lives.

    • Why music can work for the people you support

      In this activity, we will explore musical identity and musical responses in the context of the people you support, and examine the specific qualities of music that make it such a powerful tool.

    • Recap, further reading and your task

      In this final activity we look back on what we have learned in week 1 of the course. We will guide you to some some further reading, share examples of the power of music and set your task for the week ahead.

  • Week 2

    'Tuning in' to the people you support

    • How do we tune into other people?

      How can you listen musically to the people you support, and begin to engage with them using your voice and movements? In this activity we will explore the idea of 'tuning in' to those you work with.

    • Tuning in musically: Kath and Richard

      We are now going to think about how we can apply to idea of ‘tuning in’ to connecting with others via musical interactions. Kath is an elderly lady with dementia and Richard is a Nordoff Robbins Music Therapist.

    • Listening and observing musically

      We will begin by introducing some musical terminology, and then explore how to listen and observe musically. We will begin to learn how to describe people in musical terms.

    • Beginning to tune in using music

      It's time to build on our musical listening and observation skills, and think about how we find opportunities for musical tuning in to another person.

    • Recap and applying your learning

      Let's look back on the key points we have learned from this week, and test them out in a quiz. You will then be given your task for the week ahead.

  • Week 3

    The joy of familiar songs

    • The joy of familiar songs

      We will start this week with a musical 'warm-up' and will then consider the importance of 'singing with' rather than 'singing to'. We will then look at which songs would be effective within your care setting, and why.

    • Using familiar songs flexibly

      Using examples from music therapy, we will show the importance of using songs flexibly to meet the individual needs of the people we support.

    • Starting to create new songs

      How do we start creating a new song for our care setting? Discover why the purpose of the song should come before the tune!

    • Choosing melodies for purpose-driven songs

      Now that we have decided on a purpose for your song, it's time to develop your song with a carefully chosen melody.

    • Recap and putting your ideas into practice

      Here we summarise the song creation process, and it's time to try out your new song!

  • Week 4

    Music as part of your daily care setting

    • Introduction to using music in daily care settings

      How can you find opportunities to use music in the everyday routines of your care setting?

    • Using music in daily routines

      We hope that you will be inspired by these examples of music to help with practical tasks, and you will start looking for similar opportunities within your own care setting

    • Your soundscape

      Learn why the soundscape is a vital consideration in your care environment, how it affects people and how it can be improved.

    • Using recorded music and recap quiz

      We will look at the important role that recorded music can play in enhancing the atmosphere and encouraging interaction between people. This will be followed by a short quiz revising the week's learning so far.

    • Making your plan

      Let's put all of your learning from week 4 into action and make a plan for using music to enhance the daily life of your care setting.

  • Week 5

    Using musical instruments

    • Getting started with musical instruments

      In this activity, you will learn where to start with using suitable instruments in your care setting.

    • The range of musical instruments

      In this activity, we will look at the wide variety of different musical instruments and consider what the experience of playing them might be.

    • The expressive potential of musical instruments

      We will explore how instruments can be used in different ways as a form of expression and how you can enable the people you support to play in their own way.

    • Formats for instrumental play

      In this activity, you will learn different musical ideas for using instruments with the people you support, including examples of activities that you could facilitate.

    • Try using instruments

      We wrap up the week by setting your task to try out some instrumental playing within your setting.

  • Week 6

    Embedding music into your care setting

    • Embedding music into your care setting

      It's time to reflect on your learning so far on the course, and think about how music can become a fully integrated part of your care setting.

    • Musical activity sessions - where to start?

      We will introduce how to start planning for regular musical activity sessions with those you support, including practical considerations and how to plan your activities.

    • Musical activity sessions - over to you!

      It's time for you to plan your first musical activity session. We will also look at how to develop your session content over time.

    • Consolidating your learning

      To finish the course we will reflect on your learning journey by revisiting the key principles of listening and observing musically. We will look back to one of our very first videos and see if you now view it differently.

    • A musical goodbye, and congratulations!

      We've reached the end of the course. Congratulations! Let's share a musical goodbye. We will then point you towards further reading and inspiration for your music-making adventures in the future.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Apply active music-making in the everyday life of your adult care setting.
  • Identify your own existing relationship with music
  • Describe the musical identity of someone you support
  • Describe why music 'works' and is a valuable tool in adult care settings
  • Apply musical thinking to different forms of communication
  • Describe how the people you support present in musical terms
  • Explore how to use your voice and movement to engage with people you support
  • Demonstrate how familiar songs can be adapted to interact with people you support
  • Explore the purpose of a new song for someone you support
  • Explore how to create your own song based on a familiar tune and use it flexibly
  • Describe ways in which music can be used to enhance and ease daily routines and difficult moments in care settings
  • Describe the 'soundscape' within your setting and identify how musical changes could help
  • Apply specific musical changes to improve the everyday life of your care setting
  • Explain why specific instruments might be chosen for the people you support
  • Explain how instruments can be used in different ways as a form of expression, and how you can enable the people you support to play in their own way.
  • Identify different musical ideas for using instruments with the people you support, and how to facilitate some appropriate activities
  • Demonstrate how you would set-up and plan for a music activity session within your setting
  • Explore different sources for ideas and resources to further develop your music-making practice in your setting

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone working in an adult care setting wanting to learn how music can support the people you care for.

The content is adaptable to suit a range of care settings, including care homes, day centres, hospices, secure wards, and more.

What software or tools do you need?

To take part in the course you’ll need access to a computer or mobile device. You will also need a ‘reflective journal’ - a means of keeping notes from week to week that you can store confidentially. There will be more information about this during Week 1 of the course.

Who will you learn with?

I am a music therapist working with Nordoff Robbins, the UK's largest music therapy charity. My clinical focus is adults and young people with learning disabilities and autism.

I am a music therapist and supervisor with Nordoff Robbins. Over the past 18 years, my work has reached people in dementia care, learning disability, autism and palliative care settings

Who developed the course?

Nordoff Robbins

Nordoff Robbins is the UK’s largest music therapy charity. We are dedicated to bringing high quality music therapy to as many people as possible. Our music therapy practice is informed by our research and we are committed to training future generations of music therapists through our education programme, which offers three levels of training including short courses, our Master of Music Therapy programme (which gives graduates eligibility to register as a music therapist) and our PhD programme.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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