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Memory choir hosts virtual showcase after year of ups and downs

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Despite the hurdles created by the pandemic, the local Stand in the Light Memory Choir has made adjustments to make sure those struggling with memory loss are still gifted with the help of music.

Sunday night was its virtual showcase, something music director Cathy Reitz said has been an incredible journey.

"It's been wild, really it's been a wild experience," she said.

Given the pandemic, the choir stopped meeting in the spring, but in July, Reitz asked the members if they'd want to sing together over Zoom calls. With help of caretakers, nursing home staff and tech-savvy members, they were able to have their voices heard through a computer screen.

"I think I really learned teamwork is key," Reitz said. "Sometimes when we do things we get so isolated in our own little world, because for me there were so many new things, for everyone there were so many new things, but really it was a team that did it."

The Stand in the Light Memory Choir is more than singing songs; its music helps people with memory loss find community and refresh parts of their memory through music. Reitz said while she's no expert on the science behind memory recollection, she's been able to see first-hand the wonders music has on choir members.

"I've been a music teacher all my life but this is truly the most amazing thing because you see it happen," she said. "You see people come in who maybe haven't been very verbal, and we start singing, and the light-switch goes on."

After practicing every Thursday morning for months, the choir was ready to end the year by presenting its showcase over Facebook Live: a performance that's much more than music for others to hear; it's a performance that signifies working together through such a difficult year.

"So we're going to continue," Reitz said. "Maybe in the summer, we'll be able to do some distanced gathering. Maybe in the fall, we will be together, but the choir will keep going. And it will not be stopped by COVID."

Click or tap here to watch the choir's showcase performance.

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Felicity Bosk

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