I’ve written before about how music, like a popular Dutch beverage, reaches the parts other things can’t. Today, I spent a lovely morning at an Alzheimer’s Society Singing for the Brain session in Coventry, hosted by Dave Willetts, swapping the West End and shows like Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera for a Tennessee Waltz in a church hall in his home city. I can’t imagine an audience at Her Majesty’s Theatre could have derived any greater pleasure than the hundred or so people living with dementia and their carers who joined him today. I was secretly pleased with my performance – fewer bum notes than normal – although I opted not to take part in The Lambeth Walk for fear of inadvertently kicking some innocent reveller.
Many of us have an emotional connection with our favourite songs. They’re like best friends. Glancing around the room today, I saw men and women who had previously said little or nothing singing heartily. Like Mum and her Magic Moments, they might not even have known the names of those closest to them but the words to their chosen tunes came naturally. The Line of Duty star Vicky McClure has explored the links between music and dementia in her BBC documentary My Dementia Choir, an emotional experience for her and her viewers. Today, as we sang You Raise Me Up to bring the session towards its close, I felt a lump in my throat. I don’t particularly like the song but the sight and sound of a room singing with such gusto was enough.
Music does that to me. I hope it does to you too!
Dave Willetts has set up a Foundation to support his work to help people with dementia. He’s recorded a selection of songs inspired by his Singing for the Brain experience. More details from http://www.davewilletts.com