10 November 2020
By Ellie Palmer
Paul Harvey has recorded an original composition with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
80-year-old former music teacher Paul Harvey has released a single after a clip of him improvising went viral online.
In the clip Harvey, who suffers from dementia, was given four notes by his son to improvise with. You can view the original video below.
Dad’s ability to improvise and compose beautiful melodies on the fly has always amazed me.— Nick Harvey (@mrnickharvey) September 17, 2020
Tonight, I gave him four random notes as a starting point.
Although his dementia is getting worse, moments like this bring him back to me. pic.twitter.com/dBInVCTmfF
The BBC Philharmonic got involved after the video was aired on Broadcasting House for World Alzheimer's Day on 21 September.
The video highlights just how effective music and music education can be on our health. Despite suffering with dementia, Paul was able to recall all the skills he had learnt when he first learned piano many years ago.
Music has been shown to drastically improve the ability of dementia patients to communicate and access memories that verbal communication can no longer reach. NHS England describes music as being able to “help reduce anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language, help at the end of life and enhance the quality of life”.
Harvey comments: "It's quite amazing that all this has happened, and in my 81st year. It's fantastic. It's given me a new lease of life and after we've all finished here I'll go to the piano and find another four notes."
Not only has Harvey's viral video led to him recording his new single with the BBC Philharmonic, he has also appeared on Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 4. You can watch his performance on Good Morning Britain below.
You can listen to Paul Harvey's Four Notes, featuring the BBC Philharmonic, on Spotify below.