Finding Strength Through Song
Karen and Jerry Parks joined a brand new chorus group 6 years ago, not knowing that in a few short years it would inspire chorus groups across the country and the world.
In 2014 the Giving Voice Chorus was created when two faculty members who had cared for a loved one with dementia were impressed by the research about the powerful effects of music on the lives of people with dementia. The chorus started with just 30 inaugural members from across the metro area, but word spread quickly throughout the dementia community about the fantastic new chorus group and it rapidly expanded to three choruses, totaling just under 200 members.
A fourth chorus group has been added for fall of 2020 to accommodate the growing interest. If you are interested in joining, click here to go to the registration webpage. Additionally, Giving Voices assists the Amazing Grace chorus in St. Paul, an African-American chorus group.
Finding Camaraderie and Purpose
Chorus members will tell you that rehearsal day is their favorite day of the week. The motto of the group is “there is no wrong in this room” meaning, there is no stigma, no judgement, no negativity—only acceptance, friendship, and support. Worrying about judgment and insensitivity from others when out in the community washes away when members arrive for rehearsal. For many of them, chorus practice is the only time they can be themselves. The joy, comradery, sense of purpose, and acceptance the chorus members feel at rehearsal led to the rapid expansion in the metro area and has led to the creation of chorus groups across the country and the world.
Inspiring Chorus Groups across the Country and around the World
Word of Giving Voice spread far beyond the metro area. Chorus groups have sprung up throughout Minnesota and 16 other states. Worldwide, you will find chorus groups in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, all inspired by Giving Voice. If you are interested in creating a group in your area, click here.
Love Never Forgets
The chorus received a grant through Healing & Hope Through Song, an American Composers Forum for a lyricist and a composer to write original songs about the experiences of the members of the chorus. The song topics ranged from slowly losing a loved one over time, living in the moment, and looking forward to the cookies after rehearsal. The composers were originally supposed to create two songs, but they ended up writing nine original songs.
The chorus began conversations with The Ordway about performing their original songs. The performance quickly sold out all 2206 seats! This performance was evidence that people with dementia can learn new things. The performance was truly incredible, the lyrics bringing the audience and singers alike to tears. It was a major accomplishment for the chorus members living with dementia to learn and perform new songs. The excitement and sense of accomplishment was tangible as the performance came to a close. Twin Cities PBS created a segment about the performance (which won them an Emmy!), the segment can be viewed here.
Giving Voice at Grand Opening
As part of our Grand Opening the Giving Voice Chorus graced us with their presence as they filled our home with joyous singing. Approximately 30 members of the chorus joined us in our sunroom and sang out into our great room filled with guests to celebrate our opening!
The Pandemic Pivot
Due to coronavirus, the chorus was not able to rehearse in person. They quickly pivoted to virtual rehearsals to keep their members engaged and connected. To see the video they created for the end of the summer session, titled You = Joy & Belonging, click here.
Parks’ Place Memory Care is a privately owned assisted living home, specialized and specifically designed for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Our home is for people of any stage of dementia so they are able to age-in-place in their home. For tours, general information, or admission inquiry, please contact Kaitlin Kelly at 612-358-3725.