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8-week Fall Session begins  9/20/19

Introductory Workshop on 9/13/19

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The SongShape Chorus (piloted in Indianapolis, Indiana) uses the power of choral singing to bring hope and connection to people in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia – and their care partners. By participating in SongShape, they create something unique, engage in community life and rediscover what life with dementia and Alzheimer's can be. 


Currently, 6 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease or other related dementias with a projection of 14 million by 2050. Twice as many care partners of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial, and physical difficulties. At least 70% of individuals with dementia live in communities, not nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. The majority of those affected become isolated from their communities and even disengage from family and friends experiencing a narrowing of life. However, it is possible to experience a good quality of life with dementia. Emerging research in neuroscience associated with music and the brain shows that people with Alzheimer's/dementia actually retain music memory in a part of the brain last affected by the disease. While different from music therapy or a simple sing-a-long, the SongShape Chorus focuses on the crafting of something unique, tackling simpler choral arrangements, while incorporating elements of experiential and sequential learning, as well as community-focused participation.


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Recognizing the important role of those who give ongoing care for people with dementia, a personal “care partner” should accompany and fully participate in the chorus along with each singer. Care partners could include spouses, friends, adult children or grandchildren, sisters or brothers, and any person whom the person living with dementia trusts and feels secure with.Volunteers are also on hand and actively involved in assisting singers during rehearsals and concerts so the care partner can fully engage with the chorus.


A typical rehearsal includes:

  • 20+ minutes of social time before and after rehearsal

  • Opening ritual song/warm-up

  • Working repertoire

  • "Move & Groove" stretch break

  • "Music & Me" enrichment 

  • Announcements 

  • Closing ritual song 

Rehearsals are where most of the SongShape “magic” takes place; where singers and their care partners experience joy, social interaction and the satisfaction of working toward a goal. The 8-week season will include weekly, 90-minute rehearsals and no auditions required.

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SongShape believes that using a high-quality facility for chorus rehearsals and performance sends a strong message to singers, care partners, families, friends, and the community at large - that the chorus is valued and respected and should experience the same environment as other quality artists. 


As with any choral group, the first stage of development involves regularity and structure, helping singers come together as an ensemble in rehearsals while becoming familiar with new music and new members. Growth begins as chorus members understand their musical parts, relax into a new routine, and trust their peers to support collaborative music-making. As the repertoire is mastered, singers will fine-tune the sensitivities of each musical piece, preparing for a final community performance.

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Each SongShape performance includes: 

  • A familiar, comfortable and accessible venue 

  • A well-prepared, but informal and family-friendly format

  • Personal testimony 

  • Simple performance attire 

  • A reception with refreshments for friends and family 

Shannon's Story 

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Previous partners of the SongShape Chorus:

Unbiased experts connecting older adults, people with disabilities and family caregivers in Central Indiana with home and community-based services. CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions is a not-for-profit agency and one of 700 Area agencies on aging nationwide.


A Dementia Friend is someone who wants to make a positive difference in the lives of people living with dementia through increased awareness and support. Even small changes can help support people living with dementia to remain included, accepted and connected with their community. 

SoundMinds supports research and professional training programs that advance quality of life for the elderly and their caregivers. Current projects include prescribing music for rousing and calming, increasing physical, mental and social health, reducing harmful noise levels and advancing hearing recovery. Our goals include supporting research and providing training to improve quality of life for the aging and their caregivers. 

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Primelife Enrichment Inc. is a private, not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to providing services and programs that promote independence, optimal wellness and socialization for those 50 and beyond. PLE is recognized as a vital, innovative organization devoted to enhancing the quality of life and meeting the evolving needs of older adults and their families in Central Indiana. 

The Harrison Center is a force for cultural development in Indianapolis and a model for community arts, education and urban revitalization programs across America. We address community problems with cultural solutions: art, music, education and grassroots activism. We cultivate emerging art patrons by redefining the boundaries of artist and audience: everyone is part of the art. 

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