Gareth Malone persuaded reluctant comprehensive schoolboys, NHS, Postal, Water and Airport workers and a group of Military Wives to sing together. Week by week we watched his television shows as he coached, encouraged and energised these diverse groups of people to perform to a high standard in public. What fun they seemed to have. How good they seemed to get. Couple this research that shows singing for elderly people brings:
- Positive changes in moods and emotional states
- A sense of control over life
- Non-pharmacological management of pain and discomfort
- Stimulation that promotes interest even when other approaches are ineffective
- Structure that promotes rhythmic and continuous movement or vocal fluency as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation
- Opportunities to interact socially with others
It is no brainer, surely all Care Homes should have their own choirs. The benefits are huge (see above). Why aren’t they singing in every Care Home in the Country? This simple, low cost, easy to run activity can have a life changing effect on residents, carers and families and the very essence of the home.
So we, at St. Dominic’s Care Home in Kelvedon, having toyed with approaching Gareth to see if he was free, decided he was probably pretty booked up, so have formed our own choir. If we can do it, anyone can.
You do need your very own Gareth, which might seem somewhat daunting. But Care Homes are populated with such an assorted group of people, that getting to know the families and friends who visit is likely to turn up someone with the experience needed. We noticed a resident’s daughters singing during the carol service, was of a particularly high standard, we discovered she had trained as an opera singer and now taught singing at a local school. Would she …….??? She would ??????? Fantastic. Grab anyone who shows the slightest musical talent.
What to sing? We weren’t after a sing-along, we have those, they were fine, but this is different, we wanted to work towards a performance. We sing hymns, that’s great and enjoyable but not for performance. So we went for songs from the musicals, Edelweiss, Supercalifragilisticious…..you know the one, hard to spell. Our Gareth gets us to do warm up exercises, pursing our lips, twisting our tongues, breathing, oh we do a lot of breathing. We sing rounds, we sing parts. There are no auditions, everyone is welcome and they pack the lounge on choir practice afternoon, residents, families and staff. There is a lot of laughter, a lot of concentration, a lot of effort and a lot of joy. We all leave humming the tunes, smiling and cheerful, spirits uplifted.
You don’t have to have trained opera singer (our one also comes with equally talented sister who accompanies us on the piano), look to the community. Ofsted are forever encouraging local schools to go out and serve their communities, they have choirs and singing teachers, local churches, the WI, they have people who lead their singing. There are young people with musical talents asking for work experience, community service for their Duke of Edinburgh Award, Scout Groups, Guides with community badges to earn. All worth a try. No Pianist, use a backing CD.
We haven’t got a date yet for our first concert, but are working up to it and then……well we think we will take our choir into other care homes and entertain them and encourage them to form a choir. Then, maybe Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor? We are aiming high, why not? We have nothing to lose and so much to gain and we might even be the number one Christmas song. Who knows?