UPLIFTING VIDEO + ARTICLE:
Watch the huge “Giving Voice Chorus” come alive and rise above Alzheimer’s. Get inspired by the music that Alzheimer’s can’t shake. Hear these singers’ wonderful songs that help brighten their day, live in the moment & give glorious voice to people with dementia.
Giving Voice Chorus creates an opportunity for people living with Alzheimer’s in the community to join together with their care partners to connect through the power of music. Giving Voice shares, celebrates and remembers the joy of singing.
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The choir rehearses weekly at the MacPhail Center for Music under the direction of Jeanie Brindley-Barnett.
Abe Gordon said, “This chorus is so much more than singing… it IS Giving Voice to people with memory loss.”
The new choral ensemble was created especially for people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Co-founders Mary Lenard and Marge Ostroushko were struck by recent discoveries about the powerful effects of music on the lives of people with dementia, especially the findings that individuals with Alzheimer’s are able to sing and enjoy music even as their disease progresses, especially if they sing familiar music. When they learned about choirs for people with Alzheimer’s in New York and Oregon, Lenard and Ostroushko began investigating how to create a similar chorus in the Twin Cities. After receiving funding to launch a pilot, they formed an advisory group to bring people together around this concept. In the late spring, they had the opportunity to partner with professional musician Jeanie Brindley-Barnett and MacPhail Center for Music to get the ball rolling. The group began weekly rehearsals on September 10, 2014, with 30 participants.
The emphasis at Giving Voice is singing together, no experience required. Participants fill out a profile to give music director Brindley-Barnett a few clues to their musical history and preferences, so that she can tailor the repertoire to the group. That’s an important aspect of the Giving Voice creative process: giving singers a chance to perform music that’s important to them, and connected to their experience and musical memories. Giving Voice performs old and new favorites, from traditional folk music to show tunes, rock-and-roll oldies and pop songs.
Giving Voice Chorus’ goal is to enhance the quality of life for people who are touched by dementia and to use the spirit of music to bring people together in community. It enriches the relationships between the person with dementia and the family caregiver, friends and children. Chorus participants want the chorus to be fun-filled, to be joyful — and that’s what they experience every week.
Giving Voice Chorus wants to help change perceptions about what it means to live with dementia, focusing instead on the strengths, spirit and skills of our friends in the community who have Alzheimer’s disease.
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