Local choir helps Alzheimer’s patients and their families through the power of song

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — Melody stirs the soul and fills the heart with emotion, especially when the mind is changing. 

“Music is one of those stimulating activities that helps with memory and connections,” says Esther Corcoran of the Connecticut chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

She’s speaking of Shared Voices, a choir for those with the debilitating disease.

“I saw a little blurb in the newspaper and I thought, ‘Perfect,’ because Bob isn’t able to use words much anymore so, the singing comes naturally,” says Carol Eckert of her husband, a Vietnam vet, who sang in the choir at West Point.

The group, led by a music therapist, is a family affair, a collective way to escape the difficulties of living with Alzheimer’s for just a little while. 

“Gives us something to do, something to do together – that’s important,” says Bob’s son, Nicholas.

“It’s pure joy – knowing we can offer these opportunities for people,” says Corcoran, noting the association organizes Shared Voices. 

She says the social component is meaningful but research also shows that the act of singing is significant even if conversing is hard:

“They hear a song and are able to sing something they haven’t sung in decades – 10, 20 years – but the music is still there, the words are still there.”

“There’s no stumbling or hesitating, it’s a nice feeling,” says Margaret Clisham, whose husband Ron, struggling with the disease, burst into song, a duet with his cherished wife. 

It was a lovely, surprising moment during our interview. 

“We look forward to coming and we feel good after we’ve been here,” says Margaret.

Finding camaraderie and control amidst chaos. 

“It was hard, it still is hard,” says Margaret.

Harmony abounds when needed the most. 

“Music is so therapeutic, music is wonderful,” says Margaret.

Shared Voices, which meets at Goodwin College, is just finishing it’s spring session.  The choir meets twice a month.  There are no audtions, no concerts no pressure – it’s simply about enjoying a shared experience.

Click here to find out how the Alzheimer’s Association provides support for patients and families. 

Or, call the 24-7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.


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