In these uncertain and isolating times, the Forget-me-not Chorus is creating innovative ways to sustain its singing communities and nourish the relationships that have been created through the power and joy of song.
Described by one chorister as ‘a spa for the soul’, the Forget-me-not Chorus became an independent charity in 2011, following a successful joint project with Welsh National Opera and Vale of Glamorgan Alzheimer’s Society. Today, they run ten choirs in Wales, bringing people together using the power of song to overcome the isolation often experienced by those living with and alongside dementia.
Now, in response to the current health crisis, and in order to support and stay in contact with their choristers, the Forget-me-not Chorus has recorded a series of virtual, interactive rehearsals. They capture the rehearsal process beginning with a physical and vocal warm up to elevate the heart rate and increase the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Once warmed up, the rehearsal encourages joy and laughter as the choristers rehearse energising, engaging and uplifting songs.
The charity have stayed in regular contact with their choristers in the community as well as the activities coordinators in care homes. Many care home residents are now confined to their rooms so the team is recording and sending in personalised performances of songs that have been requested. This personal connection through song encapsulates the ethos of the charity.
Co-Founder of the Charity and Artistic Director, Kate Woolveridge said “We founded the Forget- me-not Chorus because we believe passionately in the power of music. Singing together in a relaxed and fun environment has immense therapeutic benefits for those with dementia and their families, and the connections made through rehearsals are indispensable for many of our members. At such a difficult time for so many vulnerable people, we are more determined than ever to support our choristers. We have filmed a series of virtual rehearsals which can be used in a care home or home setting to help create some normality and routine for those having to self-isolate. For those unable to share in this activity, we are sending in personalised performances, offering a musical hug to those most isolated. The care home staff are doing a fantastic job and are under an enormous amount of pressure to maintain their residents’ mental wellbeing and keep their spirits up. Anything we can do to support these unsung heroes is a privilege”.
Kate, an accomplished mezzo-soprano and choral director, will lead these virtual rehearsals and the team has asked members for their favourite songs. Each rehearsal will end with one chosen song dedicated to the Forget-me-not family. The content will change each week to keep the sessions fresh, engaging and fun.
Kate continued, “Whilst there is no substitute for meeting together in person, we are determined to support our Forget-me-not family both in care homes and the community. We believe that we offer a lifeline to many of our choristers and that lifeline is more vital than ever in the face of this current crisis. Through our series of virtual rehearsals, we will keep our Forget-me-not community connected and offer the positive, uplifting and energising experience that singing brings. This sense of belonging and shared experience is crucial in supporting our Forget-me- not family, both those living with and alongside dementia”.