Dementia singing group starts again in Burnham

Dementia singing group starts again at Burnham

Singing for Your Memory, has started again at Burnham Library, welcoming people with dementia and their carers to its first session in years.

Taking place bi-monthly the all-ability sing-a-long session is organised by Burnham Health Promotion Trust and is aimed at helping people to bond over song as they boost their spirits and improve their memory.

The group meet for an hour in a private room at the library under the guidance of volunteer music teacher Sue Beach.

They sing old favourites, learn new songs, get some exercise and share memories and moments of friendship.

“Singing is for everyone and it’s so incredibly enjoyable,” said Sue, who leads from the front with her electric keyboard.

Before any singing starts Sue takes the group through a series of gentle stretches and vocal warm-ups.

Songs from a 62-page booklet are then selected by volunteers or members.

‘Bring me Sunshine,’ ‘Bye, Bye, Blackbird,’ ‘Do Re Mi,’ and ‘We’ll Meet Again,’ are group favourites. 

Short discussions are welcome after each tune, as songs have the power to evoke memory and conversation.

After singing ‘Que Sera, Sera’ members talked fondly of Doris Day and after belting out ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ one of the group remembered the time she was Dusty Springfield’s next door neighbour.

“Singing is linked inextricably to feeling happy and memory recall,” added Sue who gives people conversation prompts to think about before a song and then leads the group afterwards.

Prior to kicking off ‘Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler?’ she asked the group to think of their favourite Dad’s Army television moment. Immediately after the last word was sung the group were discussing ‘sausages instead of money’ ‘Christmas dinner’ and ‘Wilson and Mavis’.

War time tunes are not the only favourites sung. Hits from the 60s are popular and “we’ve always got to have a bit of Beatles,” said Sue.  

Halfway through the session Sue split the group into two to sing ‘in the round’ to ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ and ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ before learning a brand new gospel song that has short, repetitive lyrics.

“The science shows that it’s good for the brain to learn something new,” explained Sue. “So we take a break from the book and try something we’ve not done before.”

As the session closed, one of the members recalled the time that the group went to a local care home to run a sing-a-long.

“Not only were they singing,” he said. “They got up and started dancing too!”

Sessions are on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 11am.

New members are welcome all the time.


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