Singing in This Unique Choir Helps Restore Memories

This Sing-Out choir is making a big difference in the lives of its members.


Health, Community
Music can help restore memories of people with dementia,

(SpeedKingz /

Music can move people in many ways. But for people with dementia, music can do much more. Listening to music or singing can help calm people with dementia and can even help restore some memories.

That’s because music and memory have a powerful connection through emotions, like the song you danced to at your wedding, according to a blog from the NHS England. This is why this unique choir was formed in Dubbo, Australia.

Dubbo’s sing Out choir
The idea to form the Dubbo Sing Out choir is the brainchild of Lourdes Hospital dementia counselor, Anne Gemmell, according to Dubbo Photo News. The unique choir embraces people with dementia, their caregivers, family and friends.

The choir was formed in July, 2022 with just 25 singers but it has grown to 80 people who rehearse on Tuesday mornings. Led by local voice coach Camilla Ward and accompanied by Sharon Simons, it is the first of its kind west of Australia’s Blue Mountains.

The choir is already making a difference for the participants. “With the Sing Out Choir, we are seeing social relationships improve,” Gemmell told Dubbo Photo News. “The choir is bringing together a community of like-minded people with similar characteristics and common interests. One carer, whose wife suffers dementia, said to me after four weeks of choir, ‘My heart is now full, I can’t wait to get to choir every Tuesday, it’s the happiest day of my week.’”


Gemmel said that there are many positive changes in the behavior of the choir members with dementia. "Singing and music ignite neurons in the brain and we actually see people come alive," Gemmell told ABC News.

“We are seeing language skills improving with conversation and just mood changing. We're seeing people more uplifted and happier in their demeanor, “ she said.

The big performance
The choir spent nine months rehearsing for its first major performance on April 30, 2023 at the Dubbo Regional Theatre, reported ABC News. The theater was packed with families and friends from around the region.

One participant, retired pharmacist John Manny, had to concentrate on staying on his feet. The octogenarian said, “Last time I was on this stage I fell over, so I'm going to try to stay upright this time.”

Another choir member, retired railway worker Les Orton, 77, said he made new friends at the choir practice and reconnected with old friends he hadn’t seen for years.

“We've really built a sense of community, of family even, amongst the Sing Out Choir,” Simons said.“It's a space where you can go, enjoy, and be.”

Singing in choirs has become increasingly popular in recent years and the benefits of improving brain function and fostering community is not just limited to people with dementia. Anyone of any age can enjoy all the benefits.

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