New chorus for those with memory loss coming to Perham
Elevating Voices, a new Perham chorus for those with memory loss, will start practices in late May.
PERHAM — "One thing people may not know about Alzheimer's and other types of memory loss is that oftentimes, the last part of the brain to be impacted is the part that remembers music and lyrics," said Mindi Larson, one organizer behind Perham's new chorus for those experiencing memory loss.
Elevating Voices, a brand new community chorus created by the Elevate program at Perham Health , was founded with the goal of connecting people experiencing forms of memory loss with more opportunities to be involved with their community. This program will start with weekly two-hour rehearsals on May 23 at the Perham Center for the Arts and end with a community performance after eight weeks.
"We're really excited to have this program as kind of an extension of Elevate, with the help of the Perham Center for the Arts, to collaborate and bring it to life," Larson said. "To be able to play to (memory loss patients') strengths and help them relive some memories from their life is such a neat opportunity … We'll sing lots of familiar songs and maybe some new songs as well."
Inspired by a similar organization in the Twin Cities called the Giving Voice Chorus , there's no need for participants in the choir to audition, and no previous musical experience is required. The two-hour practices will start and end with some social time as well. After participants get a moment to chat, singers will participate in a five-minute warm-up followed by another quick break. From there, singers will practice selected songs — whether familiar or new. Practices will end with a few announcements and a closing song.
"We talk a lot in recent times about social isolation, and we think about the pandemic and things like that," Larson reflected. "But I think that sometimes with memory loss and these types of diseases that people are living with, there has been an element of social isolation that has gone along with them for a really long time. So we're excited to have a space and a place for people to come and connect and be together and have that social outing to enjoy some time together each week. And hopefully, it's something that people will look forward to being a part of."
Though practices don't start until late May, Elevating Voices is already searching for interested volunteers, care partners or people with memory loss who wish to participate or support the group in a variety of ways. Even if you aren't someone with memory loss, Larson shared, there are still ways to participate. Caregivers can have a chance to connect with and form a support network with one another. Volunteers can sing in the chorus, be a part of social time, hand out songbooks, serve refreshments, greet people and more.
"There's just a number of ways for our community to be involved and come and connect with our group," Larson continued. "I think there's a number of ways that people can be involved, and in a way to make this inclusive of anybody that has a passion or interest for the work that we're doing."
For more information on Elevating Voices or to sign up, go to elevateotc.org/elevating-voices/ . With any questions, contact Mindi Larson at 218-347-1974 or email@example.com.