Chesswood Dementia Friendly Choir
10 children were selected to take part in a brand-new initiative: The Chesswood Dementia Friendly Choir.
There has been significant research into the positive impact singing has with early onset Dementia. Research suggests that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioural benefits for people living with dementia. Musical memories are often preserved because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged. Singing in care homes, I have seen this first-hand. Adults with dementia that appear ‘shut down’ have suddenly opened their eyes and joined in with a song and have known all the words. There is a Dementia Friendly Worthing group who I teamed up with. This group also helped other children gain a better understanding of dementia and gain knowledge, understanding and attitudes towards the condition.
The adult that we sang with had early onset dementia and attended with a family member or partner.
This is what Lynsey Tran, Worthing's Dementia Friendly Hub Coordinator, had to say:
“Worthing’s first intergenerational dementia friendly Choir started in October 2021 as a joint project with Chesswood School and The Worthing Dementia Hub. 10 students from Chesswood School became Dementia Friends following an interactive session with the hub's coordinator Lynsey and the following week had their first singing session with people affected by dementia and their carers.
The students blew us away with not only their incredible singing voices but how they took their roles as Dementia Friends seriously, ensuring everyone was involved in such a positive experience.
From Elvis to Michael Jackson’s Thriller the choir proved there are no limits when it comes to the impact music has on people living with dementia. The students made the sessions fun with showing off their dance moves but were also ready to take a gentle approach if someone needed helping to find the right page or words”
Our repertoire included Michael Jackson, Elvis, songs from musicals, The Beatles, The Jungle Book, The Monkees and many, many more. The children were not afraid to sing and dance!
I was told that one lady had been quite agitated and anxious before one of our singing sessions. We sang a song from Oliver the musical. This triggered a memory of when she used to sing to her daughter. Her daughter (much grown up now), drove her home after the session. She said that her mum sang all the way home with a huge smile on her face.
Unfortunately, our plans to sing in a Carol concert were cancelled due to COVID restrictions. Above was our last rehearsal.