Merimbula choir entertains Aged Care residents
The power of music to bring back memories is well known, but seeing it in action is a gift.
Ann Larkins, a Merimbula parishioner, and a small group of fellow parishioners, who are members of the St. Joseph’s Church Choir, are bringing joy to our nursing home residents this Christmas.
Many residents have dementia; however, according to Ms Larkins, that doesn’t stop most of them from joining in when their favourite tunes are sung.
“Music is such important therapy,” Ms Larkins says. “Some people in our audiences can’t have a conversation, but when we start singing, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling or Danny Boy, you can see them loudly singing all the lyrics.”
It was Fr Pale Leota who first mentioned the need for more visits to nursing homes. With loneliness and mental illness on the rise, the choir aims to reflect the call of Australia’s first Saint, Mother Mary Mackillop – ‘Never see a need without doing something about it’.
The group is in the process of doing the rounds of the local nursing homes with an hour set of Christmas carols. Earlier in the year, some Filipino choir members performed traditional dances to add to the cheer.
“Frances Clear and I share the piano (keyboard) playing; we all sing, and some dance. When it’s not Christmas, we have a varied program with old standards, show tunes, and semiclassical songs. Even a bit of swing,” Ms Larkins said.
“It took a little while to get things going due to Covid and lockdowns, but this is the first Christmas, and we’ll keep doing it throughout the year.”
Although the choir has not been operating for long, Ms Larkins has plenty of stories to share about their interaction with the residents.
“An elderly patient was wheeled out to the main room, looking quite grumpy. The resident roared, so all could hear, ‘I won’t be singing!’ She proceeded to look very annoyed in the first song, but by the third song, she was singing her lungs out,” Ms Larkins chuckles. “It was fantastic.”