Music therapy and its applications in dementia care: Spanish perspectives — Melissa Mercadal-Brotons & Mònica de Castro

Special feature | Music therapy in dementia and end-of-life care: Mediterranean perspectives

Volume 12 (2) 2020 – Report (first published on 15 June 2020)

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Music therapy and its applications in dementia care: Spanish perspectives

Melissa Mercadal-Brotons

Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya & SINGULAR-Música y Alzheimer, Spain

Mònica de Castro

SINGULAR-Música y Alzheimer, Spain


Dementia in general and Alzheimer’s disease in particular have come to be considered an important health problem of the 21st century. Currently in Spain the number of people affected is approximately 1,200,000; a figure that approaches five million if we include family members (CEAFA, 2019). There is a growing body of empirical evidence suggesting that music may be a useful intervention for the treatment of a variety of dementia symptoms in different stages of the disease. Different types of music-based interventions are differentiated in the literature; those carried out by professional music therapists and those applied by caregivers under the training and supervision of professional music therapists. Music is often used in dementia care in Spain. As the music therapy profession is not yet fully recognised, sometimes the difference between music therapy interventions and other music-based interventions in care homes is not clear. Following the principles of the Global Music Approach to Persons with Dementia (PWD) proposed by Raglio et al. (2014), the focus of this report is to present two projects carried out in Spain by professional music therapists with caregivers (professional and family) to foster the use of music-based activities with persons with dementia until the end of their lives. Reflections on the role of the music therapist in this approach and the importance of clarifying it in the care of PWD are included in the discussion section.


Spain, music therapy, music-based activities, dementia, end-of-life care, caregivers


Melissa Mercadal-Brotons, PhD, MT-BC, SMTAE, is the Academic Director at Esmuc (Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya) in Barcelona (Spain) where she is also a Professor in the Department of Music Education and Director of the Master Program in Music Therapy. She currently serves as the President of the World Federation of Music Therapy (2017-2020), and between 2013-2019 she was country representative (Spain) at the European Music Therapy Confederation. She is also an editorial board member of the Journal of Music Therapy, member of the SINGULAR, Música y Alzheimer team, and the leader of the IAMM Special Interest Group “Music therapy in the context of Dementia: People with Dementia and their caregivers”. [] Mónica de Castro is a music therapist specialising in dementia and healthy aging since 2011. She is the founder of SINGULAR, Música y Alzheimer in Barcelona, Spain. []