New community chorus gives people with dementia a reason to sing

POSTED: July 23, 2019

CICOA partners with Resonance Initiative to create SongShape Chorus

People suffering from dementia may have trouble finding the right words or remembering the names of their closest relatives, but through music, they can remember and learn lyrics. More importantly, they can find joy.

That’s the goal of a community chorus being formed in collaboration between CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions and the Resonance Initiative, which works to change lives through storytelling and song in Indianapolis. Called SongShape, the chorus will consist entirely of people in the early to mid-stage of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caregivers.

It’s long been thought that people with Alzheimer’s lose their ability to learn new information. However, new research has found that people with dementia can learn music. That’s because music stimulates activity in both sides of the brain.

A Music Group for People with Dementia in Indianapolis

When Rick Cobb learned about a community chorus in Minnesota called the Giving Voice Chorus, which is made up of about 140 people with dementia and their caregivers, he wanted to bring that opportunity to Indianapolis.

“The SongShape Chorus will use the power of group singing to encourage people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia – as well as their care partners – to create something unique, engage in community life and rediscover the fullness of what life with dementia and Alzheimer’s can be,” Cobb said.

He sought out CICOA to help.

“Immediately, I wanted to find a way to make this happen,” said Dustin Ziegler, CICOA’s director of community programs. Ziegler also leads Dementia Friends Indiana, which works to break down stigmas about dementia. “The prevalence and complexity of dementia is so substantial that it literally takes a village to combat it. Not one organization can do it all, but together we can align in a way that makes a genuine difference.”

How to Get Involved with the SongShape Chorus

CICOA and Resonance Initiative are looking for people interested in joining, volunteering and sponsoring the first SongShape Chorus. An introductory workshop will be held on Sept. 13, 1-2:30 p.m., at PrimeLife Enrichment, 1078 3rd Ave. SW, Carmel, IN 46032.

The chorus is an eight-week commitment that brings together people who are living independently with Alzheimer’s or other dementia and their caregivers. Each weekly rehearsal will be hosted at PrimeLife Enrichment and will begin and end with a social time. There will be no auditions, only a commitment to participate and the willingness to perform in a concert on Sunday, Nov. 10, with the theme “Sing Your Story.”

“This is an opportunity for people to come together in a stress-free environment,” Cobb said. “Maybe they can’t communicate with language, but they can communicate through this gift of music.”

For more information, contact Cobb at or call (317) 430-8574.

Sign Up for the SongShape Chorus


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