Meadow Park London

(519) 686-0484 - 1210 Southdale Road East London, Ontario

The Meadow Park (London) Choir

One of the most exciting challenges for the activity (life enrichment) staff here at MP is understandin our residents and listening to them in order to provide activities that they love.

Our choir turned out to be one of those activities! My name is Tena Van Rys and I am one of the activity staff at MP in London. Last winter I attended a choir concert where a newly established choir with children from a low income neighbourhood performed a few musical numbers as part of a larger concert. It occurred to me that if I could find a conductor who was as enthusiastic as the one leading these children then maybe we could start a choir of our own.

Genevieve, a UWO student who had performed at Meadow Park during one of the summer activities seemed like the perfect candidate. I was thrilled when she agreed to fillthat role. Genevieve, Michelle (the Activity Coordinator) and I sat down to set some goals and decide on rehearsal times for the new choir and finally we were ready to present our idea to the residents.

Michelle created personal invitations and we began to recruit choir members. This task was not easy. Many residents were a bit apprehensive at first but it soon became clear to all that the main goal was to have fun and that the choir sounded good when everyone sang together. The positive vibes even began spreading beyond the choir rehearsals.

One of the residents living with dementia, who had never been able to focus on other programs, was able to attend rehearsals and seemed to come alive, even in the other aspects of her daily life. Another resident living with Parkinson's disease who has difficulty speaking was able to sing and the choir rehearsals in turn providing an opportunity for musical expression.

Genevieve sensed that the best way to facilitate the residents was to provide accompaniment with help from her Ipod. As we prepared for our Christmas Concert, members came with suggestions of what they would like to sing and it was both encouraging and heart warming for the staff as well as visiting family members tohear the residents in the rehearsals.

One could almost feel the anticipation in the dining room before each rehearsal and afterwards the members shared their experiences with one another as well as with staff and other residents. Staff members noted how much the choir members enjoyed the fellowship the choir provided and the feeling of accomplishment that came with taking part in a special program together.

A family member of one of the residents asked if we would like her choir, The London Singers, to support us with our first concert. Did we ever! Finally the day arrived. December 14 was our first concert and I dearly hope the first of many. The choir of residents were both inspired and inspiring, The London Singers sang some beautiful Carols and one of the members played the piano, sang the song I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and shared a touching story about the meaning of Christmas. Genevieve treated us with three fantastic solos. The spirits of family and staff that attended were lifted and some had tears in their eyes.

We truly felt the magic of Christmas and the magic of making music together. In less than a year the seeds of an idea had grown into a full choir concert with all the benefits that I had hardly dared hope for. Yet this is just the beginning of more openings to provide joy and meaning to our residents.

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