Eau Claire (WQOW) - Music inspires us, moves us and connects us. And for those suffering with memory loss, studies have shown that music can provide emotional and behavioral benefits. It can help those affected be able to recall memories, express emotion and enhance their mental performance. To sum it up: music helps heal.
For years The Stand in the Light Memory Choir has been doing just that. The choir, made up of people suffering from memory loss and their care-givers gives them all a place to connect and feel less alone.
But once the pandemic hit and rehearsals had to stop, the choir had to press pause and figure out a way to keep the power of music and the power of togetherness alive and well in their group.
"We realized that we had to do something to stay in contact with our members and our only choice was to go virtual," said the choir's director Cathy Reitz. "We did a lot of talking about it and we talked to a lot of choirs across the country and everyone agreed. Yes it's not like a real rehearsal but we can still get together. And we can see each other and we can sing, even if we may sound weird over the airwaves. It was just worth it to put in the time and effort."
Virtual rehearsals follow the same tune as in-person rehearsals. They start with warm ups, stretches, singing of some classic favorite and times to just talk and connect with each other.
After a month in, Reitz feels like she has gotten into the groove of things but does admit that she was nervous at first.
"Would people want to connect virtually? And then we had our first rehearsal and I was in this panic like 'what if nobody comes or what if people don't like it?' and then...as people starting coming on you could see this joy in their face."
Then like the last note of a symphony, it resonated why it was so important to do this.
"The best thing happened," Reitz recalling a touching moment, "we had one couple that hadn't seen each other because the wife is at a facility and the husband is at home... and they didn't have a device. And all of a sudden... they could see each other."
Proving that music can bring us back together again.
If you are interested in The Stand in the Light Memory Choir, to get information click here. The choir meets every Thursday morning and are always welcoming new members. People are on standby to help navigate the virtual part of it.
The choir is also looking for donations of old laptops or tablets so that more members can join.