Singing For The Brain – Alzheimers Society

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BBC ‘Word for the Week’ during the time that Max Boyce was celebrating his jubilee in the limelight…

 

Back in the late 90’s I had the pleasure of being Max’s warm up act on several of his theatre tours. Sometimes, after I’d done my bit, I used to sneak into the wings to watch him deliver his famous stories and songs, and I’d observe such sheer delight on the faces of the audience. I particularly remember one gentleman in Mid Wales who had the ruddiest cheeks I’d ever seen laughing so hard that his false teeth shot out!

Its so important for us to laugh and sing together because it lifts our spirits releasing the endorphins that can promote feelings of well-being, even causing our mood to improve. Not so long ago people would regularly meet together to sing in Chapels and choirs, or singalong with the ‘turn’ at the local social club or community hall and often, strong communities were forged. Today, sadly, a lot of our time is taken up in solitary pursuits and some of us hardly step outside the front door for a variety of other reasons. A consequence of this is that people are becoming increasingly isolated as communal venues are closing at an alarming rate.

Throughout the week, I run ‘singing for the brain’ sessions for the Alzheimer society and each week we never fail to have a great response. We sing songs together from whichever era is most relevant to the group I’m working with, anything from Matt Munro, to Vera Lynn, The Beatles to wonderful hymns and spiritual songs. Just last week one of the carers told me that he hadn’t seen his wife laugh in such a long time. I could see the glow on both their faces, as they left still smiling and singing “Show Me The Way To Go Home…”.

How many times throughout the Bible and especially in the Psalms are we told to “Sing to The Lord”, to come before Him with harps and music, and to dance. In 2 Samuel we read that “ David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals”. It must have sounded immense! Its not important to be a perfect singer, because thankfully, we are simply told to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”. It makes perfect sense to me, and I see it working a treat every week!

Shaker

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