Heart to Heart: Music and Movement for Seniors with Dementia

How curious, poignant, and profound that when all is taken from us: our professions, our routines, our sense of ourselves, perhaps even knowledge of our own names, we still possess our deep capacity to respond to music: melody, rhythm, harmony, song. Why is this? Perhaps it is because our very being is music.

Music is at the heart of our spirit and the essence of our soul. Music soothed and excited us as children and can accompany us, like a faithful friend, throughout our entire lives. It is perhaps ironic that those who have lost so many memories of their life and identity have, unknowingly, gifted me with the revival and expansion of my own life and love of music and songs.

When you give the gift of a song, you are giving a living gift. For individuals with dementia, this living gift has the potential to unlock, and even outlast, one’s recollection of one’s life story. If songs are what we are left with when all other memories fade, let’s honor and value the richness of songs and share the American Songbook with students of all ages.

This lesson is one that I shared with residents at Avita, many of whom live with dementia.

Melissa Tucker greets residents at a senior care center during a Dalcroze class. Photo by David Tucker.

Lesson Sections:

  1. Prelude
  2. Greetings around the circle
  3. Warm Up
  4. Loch Lomond- Traditional song w/ Movements
  5. Opening Activity
  6. Name that Tune/Sing-A-Long
  7. Drumming Activities
  8. Ritual Closing Activity

Originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Dalcroze Connections, Vol. 1 No. 2. Members of the Dalcroze Society of America can read and download this full lesson idea online. Not a member? Join instantly online.

About Melissa Tucker

Melissa Tucker teaches eurhythmics and improvisation at the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, MA. An Oberlin graduate, Ms. Tucker earned her Dalcroze Certificate and License at Longy with Lisa Parker and Anne Farber. She has taught Dalcroze workshops and classes for students of all ages throughout New England including: The Boston Symphony Outreach program, New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Emmanuel Church, Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island and The University of Connecticut.

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