Choirs, singers participate in sing-a-thon

The St. Joseph’s Hospital cafeteria will ring with song Friday as choirs and solo singers gather to participate in a sing-a-thon.

MANY LOCAL SINGERS will raise their voices Friday in the St. Joe's cafeteria in a fundraiser toward buying portable music players. They will be used by long-term care residents of Glacier View Lodge and The Views who suffer from dementia.

The St. Joseph’s Hospital cafeteria will ring with song this Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. as choirs and solo singers gather to participate in a sing-a-thon.

The event is a benefit to raise funds to purchase portable music players for use by long-term care residents of Glacier View Lodge and The Views who suffer from dementia. The public, patients, and hospital staff are all welcome to come and listen to the singing.

For many, old age can be challenging. For families of elderly patients with dementia, going to visit a parent who doesn’t remember you is extremely upsetting.

Music, however, can change all that.

Expose an unresponsive senior to music and a transformation occurs. Faces light up and become alive, and often the seniors join in singing and move their bodies to the music’s rhythm. Music makes humans feel connected to life again.

Music therapist Nicole Burgess wants to bring about that transformation at the complex care units at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Glacier View Lodge.

“For many people living with dementia, communication and interacting with others is difficult,” she says. “Speech and language is often one of the first barriers a person with dementia has to face and this only becomes worse as the disease progresses.

“Music has the unique ability to bypass this; it is able to bring joy, interaction and while singing, even language returns. The area of the brain that holds music is the area that is the least affected by dementia,” says Burgess.

Using iPods can individualize a person’s musical experience by using music that is important and meaningful to them.
Wendy Nixon Stothert, a local choir director, viewed an inspiring YouTube video where an elderly man who appeared shut down literally sprang to life when listening to music from his youth. Nixon Stothert consulted with Burgess about how to bring this opportunity to local long-term care patients and the idea for the sing-a-thon was born.

Various members of Just in Time’s Unplugged, Jazzy Jems and Vocal Minority, as well as the Aspen Park Elementary School Choir, will perform. Local songstresses Dale Graham, Helen Austin, and Brodie Dawson and crooner Dick Stewart will sing.

Choral singers are seeking sponsorship for a lump sum or an amount per number of minutes they sing. Each music player setup costs about $200 and the goal is to raise enough to purchase 10 units for each of The Views and Glacier View Lodge.

To contribute, e-mail Wendy Merrick at aandwem@telus.net, come to the sing-a-thon in the St. Joe’s cafeteria, or give to any choir member. The St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation can offer a receipt for tax purposes for donations of $20 or more.

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