Eau Claire’s Stand in the Light Choir helps people with dementia

Local News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Stand in the Light Memory Choir provides an outlet for people living with early to mid-stages of dementia alongside their care-partners to connect through music. First News at Nine’s Phoebe Murray joined the choir’s virtual rehearsal this morning as they prepare for their upcoming fall showcase.

The Mighty Mouse theme song is in the works for the choirs, now virtual showcase in November. Director of Stand in the Light Memory Choir, Cathy Reitz, says this group of singers is by far her most humbling.

Reitz said, “We talk about the magic of music and we talk about how powerful music is and how it creates these bonds, and every week I see that happen, I see that magic even in the virtual rehearsals.”

Singing care partners are matched with a person living with memory loss for assistance during performances. This dynamic duo says they look forward to singing together each week.

Sheila and Barb, SITLMC singing care partners, said, “We love music, we’ve probably been singing since we didn’t really know how to sing, little kids, always just loved it always been in choirs.”

“It’s more fun when we’re singing the two of us in the room for sure because then you have that companionship piece too, it’s no fun being alone.”

The choir’s base group of singers has shrunk in recent months, but their reach is growing.

Kobi Shaw, SITLMC staff admin said, “It being virtual has also allowed family members from across the country have joined us, so it’s not just people in Eau Claire anymore.”

The choir’s accompanist, Nancy Wendt says being apart for months hasn’t been easy.

Wendt said, “The biggest part of it for me was to keep these people connected, both musically, seeing familiar faces out there, hearing music again and sparking some type of a memory for them.”

Reitz, whose family members have been affected by dementia, says the music is healing.

“I often say to choir members, I know you think it’s a dementia choir, but you’re just my choir, and some of you happen to have dementia,” said Reitz.

Standing together taking on a new meaning for the choir.

In Eau Claire, Phoebe Murray, First News at Nine.

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