Published in the Daily Mail 8th September 2023 

By Mary Wilson

Music classes lift the spirit— and they’re playing a big role in villages across the country

How often do you listen to a piece of music and find yourself transported back to a memorable moment? If you live alone, music can lift your spirits and encourage you to get moving.

‘Musical involvement can have a positive impact on the mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing of retirees, so it’s great for those looking to stay active,’ says John Lavin, managing director of Cognatum Estates.

‘Music improves cognitive function and memory retention, which can help combat age-related cognitive decline’.

Orchard Yard, Cognatum’s retirement development in Wingham, Kent, is holding a summer concert for residents from Wingham Primary School performing songs from their production of Matilda.

‘We did this last year and it was a great success,’ says Rob MacDiarmid, estate manager. A two-bedroom apartment is available for £655,000, and a three-bedroom house for £821,500 (

Pat Fairbairn runs the choir at Castle View, a retirement village in Windsor, Berks, while her husband, Ian, plays in a string quartet.

‘The important thing is that everyone has fun,’ says Pat.

One-bedroom apartments cost from £375,000 up to a two-bedroom rooftop apartment for £895,000 (

Churchill Retirement Living’s residents at Dutton Lodge in Penrith, Cumbria, enjoyed entertainer Norman Booth’s piano playing for a Valentine’s Day event. ‘I love performing for others. I’m getting older myself, but I still enjoy playing at events, often for older people like the owners at Dutton Lodge,’ he says.

Two re-sale apartments are available: a one-bedroom for £209,950 and a two-bedroom for £315,000 (

At Anchor’s Bishopstoke Park development in Eastleigh, Hants, the residents have a weekly choir and a Together Choir that includes residents from across all of Anchor’s developments, meeting virtually every month. Participants can sing along or simply listen in.

They also have a classical music group that meets regularly to discuss the music. This is run by Terence Halfpenny, who has lived at Bishopstoke Park for nearly four years with his wife, Diana. They are also in the choir. ‘I enjoy music and love singing,’ he says. ‘It is therapeutic and rejuvenating. I believe music brings people together.’

Prices range from £275,000 to £975,000 for a two-bedroom rooftop apartment (

Richmond Villages Letcombe Regis, near Wantage, Oxon, holds regular weekly music events. John Checketts, 79, took up the Native American flute as a hobby after a trans-American rail journey in 2010. He moved to Letcombe Regis, with his wife, Jo, last October and plays at events.

John also meets fellow flautists from Canada on Zoom weekly. ‘We all play the flute together virtually,’ he says. ‘It is soothing, in keeping with the lifestyle around me.’

One and two-bedroom apartments are for sale from £260,000 (

At Retirement Village’s Castle Village in Berkhamsted, Herts, Sylvia Murphy, 84, plays the piano and flute and arranges monthly concerts. ‘Music has a host of positive effects on wellbeing, particularly later in life,’ says Shirley Hall, of Retirement Villages Group. One and two-bedroom apartments are available from £245,000 to £365,000 (

For more information:
01491 821170 /

Cognatum, a not-for-profit company, has 60 retirement estates in 21 counties across central and southern England, a total of 928 retirement homes. All are in prime locations within vibrant market towns or villages, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Each estate benefits from thoughtful architecture, landscaped grounds, and a dedicated estate manager.