Elderly hit all the right notes for carol service

On Song
On Song

You’re never too old to start a choir, as residents of a care home with a combined age of 1,528 year between them discovered recently.

The initiative was the brainchild of Arlene Harrison, activities coordinator at Mugdock House Care Home, Bearsden, who invited private music teachers and vocal coaches Pamela and Jim McJannet into the home to perform some songs as part of the Music in Hospitals initiative.

Arlene said the residents were so overjoyed with the experience that she asked the husband and wife team from Bearsden if they would help set up a residents’ choir along the lines of those in the BBC programme The Choir.

Arlene said: “It has been a wonderful experience. At least 60 per cent of the choir has dementia and some are in their early 90s, but they all really love singing.”

Recently the residents attended Bearsden Academy’s Christmas choir and the pupils returned the favour a couple of days later joining the residents at their care home, which is only a short walk from the school, for five well known songs.

Arlene added: “Although many of the residents have dementia, after doing some research into music and dementia I was fascinated to discover that the brain stores music in a different way from other memories.

“They sung Little Donkey, Silent Night, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bells and White Christmas.

“It is a great team-building thing and I think it is the first time this initiative has been brought to East Dunbartonshire.”

She also said that singing in a choir helped to build confidence among those residents who were quite shy.

Pamela agreed. She said: “Arlene phoned us and asked if we would set up a choir which we thought was a great idea.

“Originally we came into the home as part of the Music in Hospitals nationwide initiative and were impressed by the sheer enthusiastic of everyone involved. The residents really took to it and have welcomed us with open arms. They just really love singing.

“There are residents who will now stand up and do some public speaking because they have gained that confidence from singing in the choir.”

Because of the success of the choir, there are now plans to build on this and hold an Easter concert.