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The Surprising Power of Singing — 8 Comments

  1. I love the blog! Singing is so good for the soul. I actually discovered it after Alexander school. And then went on to become an opera singer. It was one of the most challenging and uplifting experiences! In fact in some old book I remember some sort of saying that says that singing is the means by which An Angel makes it into heaven to sit next to God.

    • <3 Love that, Gary! I'd assumed the opera came before AT - that's amazing that it came afterwards. I can imagine that the experience of coming to opera-singing after your AT training made that learning process more effective. You're very lucky to have both so deeply in your life.

  2. Lovely Imogen – I want to add, that this experience has changed how you remember your visit with your mum, not just how you approached the visit or being with your mum. I think this is very powerful since it is a good memory of recent time spent with her. As we know from being with people with dementia, it is sometimes hard to have even a moment that is “uplifting” or feels positive.

    Also, the connections you make to up are very important – and I’d missed those in our discussions of your singing adventures with your mum. I think you also felt uplifted by the activity of singing to/with your mum. I’m so glad you discovered this and are sharing it!

    • Wow, you are so right about the way I remember the visits. I hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s amazing to have some good, positive, recent memories of being with her. And yes – uplifting for all involved, me included! Thank you for these insights.

  3. This is beautiful. I’ve just started researching The Alexander Technique and I came across your post. I’m also a piano teacher and music’s been a part of my life since I can remember. I’ve seen the power music has on people in nursing homes because my father, a life long piano player and entertainer. He still plays in a restaurant once a week and for residents of assisted living facilities- and he’s 82. Not only has music kept my father going since the passing of my mother, it’s also a gift he shares with people who really need it. I’ve seen how residents, many with alzheimer’s, brighten UP when the piano music starts. I’ve witnessed foot tapping, smiles, eyes lighting up and more- when the music plays. Theh power of music, be it singing, piano playing or on any other instrument, reaches deep into their mind and soul and stirs something. It’s special, it’s real and so amazingly touching to see. Thanks for sharing your wonderful post and I hope your beautiful mother is doing well.

    • Thank you so much, Ellen. Music can indeed be powerful. I love that your dad is still playing the piano, AND bringing joy to others. My mother was also a life-long musician – a piano player and teacher, and high school music teacher. Her Alzheimers started about four and a half years ago and has progressed quite quickly. However, long after she had lost the ability to do “practical” things like make a meal or dress herself, she could still play the piano, and did so a LOT while she was at home, and even a little bit at the beginning of her time in the nursing home. I think at those times it was really lovely for her – something she could still do and enjoy, and claim her identity even. I’m glad she is still able to have some music in her life, even if she’s not making it herself anymore.

  4. My mother had dementia the last 12 years of her life. Music was always a powerful way of communication with her. She lived in Buenos Aires, where I am from. I visited a couple of times a year. Her caretakers always had the music she liked on: the 3 tenors concert, Frank Sinatra and boleros. I am a classical singer and she was very happy every time I had a concert. There was one particular song, Amapola, which she sang to me when I was little. I sang it to her every time I visited. The last year of her life there was a tear coming down her cheek every time I sang this song to her, which was so moving to see that there was still this kind of understanding left in her. When I have concerts of Spanish songs I always include Amapola in her honor.

    • That’s so lovely that she was able to have so much music in her life right to the end. My mum’s care home is starting to do a better job at bringing more music into the dementia unit. My mum was a classically trained pianist and had been a high school music teacher and private piano teacher. I tried singing a few things to her from school (I was a pupil there and in many choirs and singing groups as a teen) – madrigals and a couple of other things we sang in choir, but they didn’t have quite the same impact as the songs she’d known since childhood, somehow. That’s so lovely and quite moving that you include Amapola in your concerts in her honor. Thank you so much for your comment.

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