I think the holiday season has the tendency to bring out the best and worst of feelings. It's a time where we enjoy the company of new friends and reunite with old friends, but it's also a time where we remember those who are no longer with us in our lives. I've been doing a lot of caroling gigs this season, and if I have to pick a favorite, yet most difficult, it was definitely singing for a seniors home in St. Albert.
I have a close connection to extended care facilities since my Grandmother lived in one for few years before she passed away during the Christmas season three years ago. Prior to her departure, my choir friends and I would arrange a caroling-filled day where we would travel to different locations around the city to sing to those close to us. One year we made a stop to visit my Grandmother in her nursing home. While she wasn't always totally conscious of the fact that I was there to sing to her, it made me feel better to know that I was sharing something that was very important to me with her. Music is just as therapeutic for those listening and those who are providing it. Thus, singing in nursing homes is an emotionally loaded experience for me. However, I think it's important to feel vulnerable sometimes and take a risk by entering into situations where we don't have total control.
The caroling gig in St. Albert was definitely entering into that territory for me, but it turned out great. They were such an appreciative audience to sing for and they were so attentive during our set. It felt more like a concert than a gig where we happened to be the background music. While we were singing "Silent Night," most of the audience members were joining in with us, and as I looked around at the vocalic mouths of the people, all I could think of was: "wow, senior's choirs--- this is a format that has fantastic therapeutic potential!" (You can totally tell I'm a Rehab Med student from that statement). They can strengthen their bowing vocal folds by engaging in voice exercises but also engage in all of the holistic aspects of being in a musical group. While I know that this is definitely not a novel idea, I think that all senior facilities should have musical recreation programs. One thing I learned from my program is that to age well, you need to stay engaged in life activities, and what better way than to be in a choir? Even though the holidays causes latent emotions to resurface, it's also exciting to see the hope and promise the season can bring as well.
Until next time, take care readers!