13 Reasons To Sing and Play Music

13 Reasons To Sing and Play Music post page

Online Dementia Journal

By Online Dementia JournalOctober 24th, 2019

13 Reasons To Sing and Play Music

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by Mary Sue Wilkinson,
Founder of Singing Heart to Heart


1. Music is fun - that’s why we say we PLAY music.
2. Music makes us happy! Singing and music experiences cause our brain to release dopamine, the happiness hormone.
3. Music and singing are something everyone can participate in together, regardless of age or physical or cognitive ability.
4. Singing is simple. You don’t need to be a great singer or a musician to enjoy it.
5. Singing is not messy. It can be done anywhere, anytime.
6. Singing allows us to be creative. You can make up your own words to familiar tunes. “If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake,” can become “If I knew you were coming, I’d have cleaned the house.”
7. Music can soothe us and help us relax. Rocking and swaying to music can be especially helpful.
8. Singing gives us the opportunity to make choices? “What songs should we sing?”
9. Playing music allows us to honor personal preferences. “Would you like to hear Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley?”
10. Songs can help direct focus where you want it to go and ease transitions. Try singing “We’re walking down the hall” to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell.
11. Songs can make us laugh. Try “On Top of Spaghetti” or “The Old Grey Mare.”
12. Music invites us to move and dance. Mix it up with songs from different genres. Don’t hesitate to use classical music such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Add some chiffon scarves to wave and dance with.
13. Singing together, dancing together, even just listening to music together helps us connect. And in the end…that’s what it’s all about.

I’m Mary Sue. I grew up in Iowa in a musical family and I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. I got my first guitar when I was twelve years old. My mom saved up green stamps to buy it for me. (Thanks mom!)

I’m the founder of Singing Heart to Heart and the Young at Heart Music Program. My passion for singing with elders started when I sang for my father-in-law who had dementia. He had lost all language but when I sang the hymns he knew and loved; he could sing every word. Perfect pitch. He even added harmony.

I quickly learned what research is now documenting. Music is a powerful tool to help us connect, find joy, and spark memories. Especially for people living with dementia. I've seen this first hand. I lead over 400 singing and music experiences for seniors each year.

I’m a career educator, a certified music teacher, an experienced speaker and trainer, and a professional musician. I’m also the author of Songs You Know by Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care. Teepa Snow endorses my book and my work.


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