Singing with dementia

Contributed Cynthia Humphreys

Sunshine Singers, a newly formed choir of choristers with dementia, recently made its public debut.

 On Saturday 17 June at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Kings Beach, Caloundra, the Sunshine Singers and other local musicians delighted their audience of around 140 carers, family and friends during a wonderful afternoon of music.

 For their performance, the Choir, conducted by Anne Bowyer and accompanied by pianist, Reverend Jeanette Jamiseson-Foard presented a bracket of familiar songs. Songs included When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, Raindrops Are Falling On My Head and  Ol’ Man River.  The afternoon’s program concluded with Choir and audience singing He’s Got the Whole World.   It was a joyful experience for everyone present.

 The Choir also enjoyed watching the performances of other artists: Amber Trio (piano, violin and cello); Corder Ballet, (a recorder ensemble) and Sirin (a 6 voice a-cappella group led by mezzo soprano, Stepphanie Arlidge).

 Sunshine Singers began earlier this year as a joint community project between Anne Bowyer and Reverend Jeanette Jamieson-Foard, musicians from the Anglican Parish of Caloundra Glasshouse Country, and Lorrae and Vince O’Rourke, Volunteer Facilitators of the Sunshine Coast Dementia Network. Singing rehearsals were held once a fortnight at St Andrew’s Church.  These regular gatherings provide an opportunity for people diagnosed with dementia to join in music and song with others who understand their journey.  It is also a time when family carers can enjoy an activity with their loved ones, and paid carers can take clients to a meaningful and enjoyable activity.

 New Choir members with their carers are very welcome.  The next gathering of Sunshine Singers, at St Andrew’s Church, will be on Friday July 14.