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Community singing

Community singing for people with cognitive memory loss

Dementia choirs are popular, well researched, established interventions overseas. Australia is running one of the biggest multi-million-dollar research in the world, looking at the effects of music for those living with dementia and quality of life.

For a few years now there has been interest in piloting one in the Hutt Valley. Rani Allan, owner of Music for Life a private music therapy practice is well known in the Hutt Valley and together with her team, has worked with many people with dementia with great success. One of her clients was Barbara Green, former opera singer who responded well to Rani's warmth and empathy. At the beginning of a session Barbara could be passive and unresponsive, a couple of songs in, her foot would be tapping, then she would be humming and engaging with the music. Music uses many parts of the brain and people with dementia who can no longer speak coherently, can often still sing and thus engage with others. Old memories usually include music, so songs from childhood and youth will be remembered. Barbara particularly loved ‘Pokarekare ana’, ‘You are my Sunshine’ and ‘Madame Butterfly”.

Barbara's partner Jenny asked Rani to sing at Barbara's funeral last year, in part as a tribute to all the many people who helped care for Barbara in the last part of her journey with dementia. Generous donations were made in Barbara's name to Dementia Wellington and together with money from Hutt Council Creative Community Grant and Barbara's estate, sufficient money was raised to support a music group for people with cognitive memory loss in the Hutt Valley.

The group meets fortnightly on a Friday afternoon at 2.30pm for tea and coffee, then singing with Rani from 3pm to 4pm. No musical experience is required and carers are welcome to join in. We meet at Petone Baptist church, 38 Buick street. Vaccination certificates are required and we will operate within Covid restrictions.

Contact Jenny Williams 04 5627124, 027 2219460 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information and to register your interest.

The next session is 4 March, followed by 18 March, 1 April, a break over Easter, then 29 April, 13 May, 27 May, 10 June, 8 July, 22 July, 5 Aug, 19 August, 2nd September, 16 September, 30 September, 14 October, 28 October, 11 November, 25 November, 9 December. It is important to register your contact details in case of any change to this.