A pilot project initiated by the Youth Singers of Calgary is seeking to engage those suffering from dementia through sound and music.

Implemented in partnership with JB Music Therapy, seniors with dementia can join a weekly choir setting that promotes well-being, joy and community connection.

“Music brings about memories,” said Laurie Perez, a music therapist. “It really connects us to each other quickly and creates engagement.”

The project, called Memory Lane, was showcased to the media Wednesday in a studio at the Youth Singer’s southeast location on Hastings Crescent. Several members of the group were noticeably emotional during the program.

“Sometimes those tears are a good thing,” Perez said. “It’s perhaps remembering the associations with a song, or being able to connect with a loved one that they haven’t connected with for a long time.”

Youth Singers of Calgary

Attending as a couple, 79-year-old Helen Tavares and 84-year-old Bruce Hossack, were among the most vocal singers of the group.

“We enjoy all the people,” said Hossack. “We used to hear these songs on the radio, and now we’re singing them."

Tavares said her focus was on the singing.

“I like the music, and that keeps me thinking about it, and enjoying it” she said. “I can’t sing as great as I once could, but nonetheless it is a joy to me."

Helen Tavares and Bruce Hossack

Although it will come to a temporary close at the end of November, Perez said they hope to restart the Memory Lane program in the spring with more favourable weather.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 402,000 Canadians aged 65 or over are living with dementia.