Giving a Voice to People with Alzheimer's

March 04, 2018 11:51 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- When memory fails them, music does not. People living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia in the Twin Cities have found a sense of joy and community through singing.

The "Giving Voice Chorus" was formed four years ago. It has since grown to 200 members; consisting of volunteers, caregivers and those living with the disease.

“Through basic repetition, you can regain and retrieve and develop new skills,” said Jeanie Brindley-Barnett, the Music Director of Giving Voice. 

Jane and Michael Brodie joined the chorus a year and a half ago. In 2016, Michael was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “It [Giving Voice Chorus] has been really helpful for our relationship because it gives us time together every week to sing,” said Jane. 

Aside from that, Jane has noticed being in the Chorus has “brought back lots of memories” to Michael. 

Giving Voice is inspiring similar groups to start up. “From all over the world,” said Brindley-Barnett. “We have got seven different choruses in the nearby Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa area. Chicago. But what is most exciting is Rochester.”

Angela Lunde and Suzy Johnson are helping bring the "Resounding Voices Choir" to Rochester this spring. 

“In the State of Minnesota, we have around 100,000 individuals living with this disease,” said Lunde. “We know that translates to having thousands of individuals in our community who are impacted.”

“All are welcome,” said Johnson. “It does not have to be people just from Rochester, it can be from the outlying communities.”

Eileen Cardwell is part of the Giving Voice Chorus. Both her late mother and late husband suffered from Alzheimer’s. Though she now lives in a St. Paul suburb, Cardwell grew up 10 miles West of Austin. “In small communities, by the grace of God and with help from friends and family they probably get by … but this would be so incredible.”

Resounding Voices will be made up of about 20 - 30 members. The first rehearsal will be held in April. Registration will soon be open on the website:

With the support of their peers and the community, there will be nothing that can stop people with Alzheimer’s from singing. 



Hannah Tiede

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