Playing music rings a bell for Quarry Hill residents
Camden — Andrea Annis already knew that the residents she works with in Quarry Hill’s memory care unit, The Courtyard, “really respond” to music. Then, last spring, the Maine Center for Integrated Rehabilitation in Rockport brought its handbell choir to play at Quarry Hill, and Annis decided to start one herself.
The choir started practicing the first week of August, Annis said, to perform in the variety show held last week in honor of National Assisted Living Week. Choir members were nervous at first, she said, then they began to get excited. After the show, they were proud of their performance.
Annis herself has only a slight musical background, having taken piano lesson for a few years as a child. But she is able to pick out tunes by ear, and uses an attitude of acceptance to encourage residents to play and enjoy themselves. The choir is very simple, made up of eight bells forming a C-major scale. As conductor, she points to each resident when it’s time to them to play, so there’s no need to worry about remembering when their note comes.
Playing together is therapeutic for the choir members, Annis said, and also for residents who simply listen. Benefits include the social aspect of music, the pleasure of playing and the memories the music evokes.
“Even the laughter from the mistakes we make sometimes is therapeutic,” she said.
The choir practices once or twice a week, and has learned several sing-along favorites, including “O, Susannah!” “Billy Boy,” “On Top of Old Smoky,” and “The Marine Hymn.” They’re taking a break for a couple of weeks, Annis said, and will start learning some Christmas pieces next month, and then work on pieces for the spring variety show after the first of the year.
Annis uses music a lot with Courtyard residents, letting different people try the bells. And if someone wants to play a particular song and she can’t find music for it, they sing it together.
Because of the emotions connected with music, it can bring back memories for residents. “Music’s really one of those things that sticks with you,” Annis said.
Sarah E. Reynolds is a reporter for the Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, hike and play word games.
Recent Stories by Sarah Reynolds
Dec 12, 2013
Dec 11, 2013
Dec 10, 2013
Dec 09, 2013
Dec 09, 2013