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In 2010, I began dating my husband. We had an unconventional courtship that was centered around home and the care of his mother who had been diagnosed with Fronto-temporal Dementia five years earlier at the age of 62.

If you are familiar with any type of dementia, you know that those afflicted can make a variety of vocal sounds. I wasn't put off by any of her sounds due to the fact that most were very similar to the ones I made when WARMING UP to SING. As she became less vocal and less mobile, there were times I'd wander into her room (usually with a broom!) and just sing. One of the last songs I sang to her before her ascent was TAKE ME TO THE KING.

During this pandemic, I was introduced to an 89 year old Danish man who had suffered a stroke in late 2019. I was told by his caregiver that he was always a musical person, often playing the piano and singing his favorite songs. After his stroke, although he could no longer play piano, he innately gravitated toward music... Then I came along.

I was told by his caregiver the types of music he had been listening to. I gleaned more by what he spontaneously BURST INTO SONG ON! So, I began playing music from my extensive digital library. Staying within the style, genre, and era that may have influenced him throughout his life. I was not concerned that I would not find something we had in common. I simply listened and sang.

My weekly visits continue and I have honed a playlist specifically for him. As well as adding many instrumental tracks for me to sing directly to him. Even if he can not manage the words at the moment, his VOCALISE of syllables and vowel sounds, help strengthen his tone. A series of vocal exercises that are a part of my regular life as a performer... but also imperative to a person who needs vocal strengthening.

His wife of 60 years sits with us. She is in the ladder stage of dementia, but I think she enjoys listening to him sing. Sometimes, it's Danish music on the docket. Sometimes, a little classical... then, maybe a show tune, always some bluegrass... and always a love song. I carefully choose uplifting music that meets the moment to make him to feel good. My reward is when he laughs, when he says thank you that was a "good song!"... and when he reaches over and holds his wife's hand.

I am not averse to the bitter sweet realities of our human experience. I believe I have the emotional capacity to embrace both the bitter and the sweet, and musically help a fellow human being through a challenging time. I had no idea my beautiful mother in law was the beginning of what would be a new venture for me. But, alas! Here it is! SONG SESSIONS.

I continue to have weekly visits with my Danish friend. Each "session," has taken on a weekly theme of sorts that often sometimes triggers a memory for me, and I relay to him. I draw conclusions to emotions that are marked by a song from my life, and we are both filled with joy and calm... our companionship is "sympatico."

Then Sings My Soul!

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