Singing is a wonderful way of soothing the soul and is also fabulous for those with dementia and chronic lung disease. Here are a couple of singing groups in Edinburgh that might be of interest to you:

For those with dementia –

and for those with COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) –

Alzheimer’s UK has the following advice:

Do I need to be good at singing to join?

No – everyone’s welcome whether you already sing or not, and you don’t need to read music. Our trained singing leaders are skilled in teaching songs from scratch at a pace that includes everyone. People from all walks of life and at different stages of dementia enjoy ‘Singing for the Brain’ and, after their first visit, nearly always come back for more.

What sort of songs will we sing?

A range of different songs are sung from different eras, musical styles and traditions and according to the preferences of the group. The ‘Singing for the Brain’ model involves trying new pieces of music but also essentially familiar and well known songs and melodies.

What can we expect?

We meet regularly, once a week or fortnight, and sessions last for about one and half to two hours and include a relaxed welcome with refreshments on arrival. After about half an hour the singing leader calls everyone into a circle and uses a greeting song to welcome everyone by name. The session begins with some gentle tried and tested vocal warm-ups and breathing exercises used by singers around the world to strengthen the voice, ease tension and relax the muscles in hands, feet, neck and shoulders. This increases lung capacity and increases blood flow to the brain, helping keep the brain in optimum condition.

Action songs increase the playful exercise element and give challenges to the brain which people with memory problems often cope with very well. Use of rounds, call and response, and other ways of creating simple harmonies helps concentration. Well known songs are used to evoke verbal and emotional memories. New songs are taught to help challenge and extend skills. Sessions are usually unaccompanied though some leaders occasionally use a keyboard and invite light percussion or other accompaniment from participants. We generally finish with a quieter song as a calming finale, and to wish each other well till we meet next time.