Dr Paul Leventhal shares his love of classical guitar

Dr Paul Leventhal. Image by Tim Waugh, The Dedes Waterfront Group.

Dr Paul Leventhal. Image by Tim Waugh, The Dedes Waterfront Group.

Dr Paul Leventhal recently finished a classical guitar mentorship, examining supporting therapy for people living with dementia in aged care facilities, with musician and educator Raffaele Agostino. Dr Leventhal discusses with Create NSW how the mentorship benefited him and about the overwhelmingly positive impact music can have on those living with dementia.

You recently completed a classical guitar mentorship through Create NSW’s 2019/2020 Small Projects (Quick Response) grant that looks at supporting therapy for people living with dementia in aged care facilities. Tell us about your recent work and how it came about.

During my work in the not-for-profit sector as a fundraising consultant I observed that there was a community in NSW residential aged care facilities who are keen for inspiring cultural activities. I needed guidance to convert this vision of performing classical art songs into an effective therapeutic activity for the elderly, and then I found Raffaele Agostino, who is a prominent educator and performer.

How did you meet Raffaele and what did you learn from working with him?

I came across Raffaele through his community work as Artistic Director for the Classical Guitar Society. He generously agreed to work with me on a regular basis over several months to raise my overall standards. He identified fundamental flaws in my unschooled approach and worked out a program that starts with strengthening techniques and basic studies. Then we moved on to a wide range of etudes and preludes by modern composers, and finally to the more complex repertoire work.

There has been a lot of research into the benefits that music can have on those living with dementia. What were some of your findings and was there anything that surprised you?

I was inspired to devote myself to perform in aged care through research projects, mainly stating that ‘arts interventions are often low-risk, highly cost-effective, integrated and holistic treatment options for complex health challenges to which there are no current solutions’ [see: World Health Organisation, Sector Brief on Arts: September 2019]. This ‘market research’ inspired me to combine my love of the intimate, charming, classical guitar, with serving a need for the elderly in residential aged care. The feedback received after my performances demonstrates that music really does good.

Through this experience you implemented a program of performing for those living with dementia in age care facilities. What do you hope to do with this program and your findings?

I hope that in the future I will be able to compose new works appropriate for the therapeutic benefit of the elderly, and including those with dementia, this would be a great conclusion to the mentorship with Raffaele.

Find out more about Dr Paul Leventhal’s work.


Small Project Grants (Quick Response) support the creation, development and presentation of new work and professional development opportunities for NSW-based professional artists and arts and cultural workers. Applications are open and offers grants from $500 to $5,000 towards projects. Find out more and apply now.

Image: Dr Paul Leventhal. Image by Tim Waugh, The Dedes Waterfront Group.
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