Every Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church in Evanston, you can hear music coming from the second floor of the building.
“I sang in high school. I didn’t sing after that except in the shower and I was so thrilled to get back to singing again with other people,” said Rosie Reese.
Singers, like Rosie Reese, are part of the Sounds Good! Choir—a choral organization for adults ages 55 and older in the Chicagoland area.
“I signed up and went to my first rehearsal and I was very nervous because I have never been a singer at all,” said Jim Hind. “I have never sung in a choir and there I was in my late 50s.”
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For the past two years, members met virtually during the pandemic.
“We were in lockdown but we were able to sing together on Facebook live and on Zoom,” said Reese. “Even though we couldn’t hear each other, we could hear the director and the piano and it just lifted my spirits.”
But now with the easing of COVID restrictions, they’re ready to welcome back a live audience.
“We are so thrilled to be back in person singing together,” said staff conductor Hannah Dixon McConnell. “We started to regather in February with masks and we are offering concerts here at the end of the semester.”
The Sounds Good! Choir started in 2016. Two years later, the founders launched Good Memories Choir for people with early stage memory loss and dementia.
“We know there’s value and engagement in music for people with dementia,” said Helen Gagel. “I experienced that with my mother and now we have the scientific documentation that yes, music is one of the best things you can do to keep people with dementia engaged.”
Singing can be therapeutic, and for this particular group, they say singing is good for their soul.
“You do not have to audition. You do not even have to sing well, you just have to have the joy of singing,” said Reese. “If you enjoy singing with other people, you should come and join us. It’s not how well you sing, it’s how happy you are when you sing.”
The dementia-friendly choir will have its first performance on Friday, May 13 at the First Presbyterian Church in Evanston. The concert starts at 12:15 pm.