Monday, December 17, 2012

Smile In Spite Of Dementia

I have the distinct pleasure of directing seven senior citizen choirs.  Most of the participants of these choirs have dementia.  This can make things interesting, to say the least.  Many of them have lost the ability to read, some are easily agitated, and some forget from week to week their involvement in the choir.  However, they are my favorite people, and we have a great time together singing.

The next five days will be spent directing a Christmas performance with five various choirs.  You might never guess my biggest challenge with these folks.  Answer is --- getting them to smile.  They are so intent about singing, they forget to smile.  I am constantly reminding them to smile, “You are singing ‘Joy To The World’, but you are not smiling.  Come on.  SMILE!”  They will then smile, and the smile lasts about 10 seconds.  Then their heads are back down, concentration on singing has begun, and the process repeats itself.

I don’t mind reminding my singers of the need to smile.  Because of the dementia many of them experience, they are not capable of remembering the need to read, sing, and smile all at the same time.  It takes a great amount of brain activity to cause all this to happen at one time.  I think it is more important they sing.  If they smile, that is great.  If they sing, they are causing their brain to release endorphins.  This make them feel better.  So, SING!  If you can remember to smile, that is even better.  Just don’t forget to SING.  Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

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