Today I led my last Singing for the Brain group with the Alzheimer’s Society. I am surrounded by flowers and cards at home and feeling incredibly humbled by the whole experience. I have been with one of the groups for four years, and in that time I’ve had the privilege of meeting ordinary people doing an extraordinary job of loving each other in the face of a seriously debilitating disease with no cure. No cure, but still hope – because why would people continue to sing if they didn’t have hope? Music is an art form in time, and so for anyone engaging in music-making, they are implicitly revealing their faith in the future. Even in these circumstances. Even with that diagnosis/prognosis. Even with government statistics on the 800,000 people in the UK who live with dementia. Watching an elderly woman, impaired physically and mentally because of dementia, unable to walk more than a few steps, unable to do the ‘activities of daily living’ – all the things she’s unable to do… she’s able to sing, and smile as she raises her hands expressively as the melody rises, and she’s able to connect with others, and she’s able to show her love for her husband, and for her God, and for the fellow people around her, in and through the music.
I’ve just finished my training as a music therapist – and leaving these groups marks the end of my work in Oxfordshire for a little while I travel to the USA with my husband (read more here). So it’s the beginning of something new for me. But I’ll carry with me the experiences and learning from Singing for the Brain – the workers, the volunteers, the carers, those living with dementia, all the great moments, all the difficult moments – and I’m looking forward to what will happen next.