BASE in dementia care

Brain Awakening Singing Education

in dementia care 


The musical key to unlock forgotten memories



The purpose of this document is to share my mission with you. A mission that simply states that singing plays a fundamental role in the care and well-being of dementia sufferers.
Expressing this verbally can be limiting but what is not limited is the strength of my experience and the experience the client feels during my particular mode of BASE technique via the sing-a-long concert.
Therefore, I invite you to capitalise on the breadth and power of this experience by considering what I have to offer to a client-base with compromised mobility, recreational capacity and mental acuity.

The core strength of this therapy lies in re-establishing interpersonal contact by re- awakening brain function.

It is my mission to enable clients of any age and medical condition to feel, see and hear how we can all re-connect on a fundamental and vital level via our own voice.


For whom

The BASE singalong concerts are for dementia sufferers and their buddies (carers, friends and relatives). Groups consist of about twelve residents, twelve buddies, and a pianist as well as myself.


What is BASE

BASE is a Singalong concert where everybody can and may sing along.
We all sit in a circle, introductions are made, we might shake hands and have some small talk. Songbooks are distributed.
As we are singing well-know songs in chorus, everyone can join in at their own level of confidence. Every song is printed out (larger print) in a folder and accompanied by a photo, drawing or painting relating to the corresponding song. But there is more to it than just singing together!


During the singing, I will circulate and demonstrate how we can maximize the emotional effect of singing by making eye contact with clients and connecting in a gentle way by using the technique of mirroring.

We sing songs for approximately twenty minutes then have a break before repeating the program. Because the BASE method triggers old memories, our repertoire often causes the awakening and remembering of other songs as well. This “knock-on” effect means that the dementia sufferer may break into another song. Frequently, these requests are associated with a significantly joyful event in their past life.

Naturally, we cater for such spontaneous wishes. We simply find the most suitable key and….sing-a-long!

The total duration of the session is around sixty minutes.



Music memories are least affected by memory loss. In fact, the part of the brain responsible for receiving and processing sound develops in utero when the foetus is 5 months old. It is also the last part of the brain to survive! When music and sound are given an emotional core, they are profoundly embedded. For life.

Collective singing not only awakens the early life/childhood sound-based memories but also activates adjacent brain regions through resonance and vibration. People become enlivened and animated, start smiling and their vital energy begins to flow. They become more excited and active, both verbally and physically. This positive, collective singing experience enables one to communicate and re-connect with others.


Why I teach this?

During my solo career I have often observed, on a visceral level, the intensity of human emotions displayed by an audience.

This sensitivity is my job, craft and the core of art in general.

A dementia sufferer demonstrates a particular reaction – they suddenly smile, move or talk, become entirely engaged and captivated, they are temporarily “back” – behaviour they haven’t shown for a while…or so I have found out later. I will never forget these moving experiences!

Thus, I have chosen to focus on these one-on-one dementia sing-a-long sessions and over time, have slowly developed my ideas on how best to implement BASE for maximum healing effect.


Scientific underpinning

For some time, I have been developing my research and method in correspondence with Dr Prof Wilco Achterberg, leading professor of geriatrics at Leiden University in The Netherlands. Our empirically and scientifically-based exchange of information has resulted in his solid support of my BASE method.

In May 2016, Prof W Achterberg presented his latest scientific outcomes at the congress of ‘Music & Singing in Dementia Care’, where he invited me to be one of the key speakers. This opportunity allowed me to present my BASE project in both words and the interactive personal singing

experience utilising the entire audience!

Since then, my BASE concept has expanded and been adopted by numerous nursing homes throughout the Netherlands. My mission is to take this “gift” even further and share my project with as many people as I can.

Through my experiences regarding the powers of communal singing, I am passionate, convinced and confident that I can improve the overall well-being of carer, friend, relative, buddy and most importantly, dementia-sufferer.





“For me you are the best; I’ll give you a 10/10”!

“Maartje, can you please come back next week?”



“My dad was in very bad shape, but Maartje made him smile again and be happy. He actually spoke a whole sentence before we left, very special to us, because speaking wasn’t in his ability any more. Maartje gave me a moment I shall never forget; nobody can take that away from me anymore!”


“My mom turned very grumpy and didn’t want to do anything any more. In the past she always loved music and played the flute. After singing with Maartje she had this radiant glow of happines about her, using her arms again, spreading them wide out, like conducting the music. She even started talking very specificly about her flute, and wanting to play again! This state of happines lasted at least a week! We were so grateful!”


Care takers

“Maartje has the ability to make contact with our residents in a very gentle and intuitive way, so people directly start to open up to her and sing along with a song. You see them wake up and, especially after the break, feel the positive energy in the room is building and giving a great atmosphere!”


“Maartje showed us singing is not just a great activity to break away from daily routine, but more then that; it is a powerful tool to make contact through another ‘channel’ and get people active and let go of stress!”


“I was already singing with the residents but now I will do this even more and use it in daily activities like eating or showering. It is such a sweet and gentle way to communicate!”


Singing is an outlet for emotions and tensions and activates body and mind with positive energy


Read more:


Orpheus Curat Foundation

Facebook page dementie&zingen


Any questions? Do not hesitate to contact me!