Below is a short collection of some noteworthy moments that have occurred during our music sessions.
A gentleman who used to professionally play the violin, but had recently stopped due to his dementia was partnered with one of our volunteers with a viola. The viola is very similar to the violin and just a bit bigger. After some encouragement from our volunteer this gentleman began to play along to the song other participants were playing on the keyboards and he lit up completely, smiling ear to ear. This was a man who didn’t engage in other activities at the facility and did little other than sit and stare blankly. Our music program truly improved his quality of life; he mentioned how much fun he was having and that he always looked forward to our weekly session.
Donna Singer Jazz Trio
Mind&Melody, Inc. hosted a jazz performance by the Donna Singer Trio for participants experiencing memory loss and their families! World-renowned performer, Donna Singer, Ph.D, Billy Alfred, and Hunter Isbell put on an amazing show and our audience could not have been more entertained and appreciative! Many participants tapped along with their feet and sang entire songs through.
After mastering playing the keyboards through our color coded system participants were given the opportunity to create some of their own music. With the help of our volunteers the participants created rhythm sequences and corresponding color-coded melodies on the keyboards.
Our sessions break down playing the keyboards using a color coded system which allows participants to quickly learn simple songs. Each participant, whether they had a background in music or not, was able to consider themselves pianists after only a few sessions because they felt confident in playing a song like Mary Had a Little Lamb all the way through. At one of our sessions while working with the color coded keyboards, one of the participants claimed the song seemed familiar to her and she remembered playing it before.
One participant used to play the piano frequently, but like the violinist had stopped recently due to his dementia. During one of our sessions, he gained the courage to get up and improvise on the piano while a volunteer musician improvised with her violin next to him. The collaboration between the participant and the volunteer musician was a truly magical and impressive moment to witness.
We hosted sessions during our pilot program from 4-5pm, which is the time of day many people experiencing dementia begin to "sundown" or become agitated and confused. When we first began our sessions many of the participants were eager to leave near the end and would continually ask what time it was and how much longer they would be there or where their loved one was. A few weeks into our sessions the opposite began to happen. Many of our participants would stay until 5:15pm wanting to continue to learn and be a part of our musical experience together. The negative behaviors associated with dementia decreased during this time period for the majority of our participants.