Month: May 2015

Songwriting Works Featured on King 5 News!

Songwriting Works Featured on King 5 News!

We had the pleasure of inviting Seattle’s King5 news to experience our Songwriting Workshops at Aegis Living of Edmonds a few weeks ago. Check out the the video and full story below!


Songwriting class engages those with memory loss

KING 5’s Josh Green reports.

EDMONDS, Wash. – On the second day of the songwriting class, Judith-Kate Friedman started seeing smiles from the seniors sitting in front of her. One by one, they would give her a phrase that fit the song they were writing together. By the end of the session, the group was singing the tune together.

Many in this class, like Ruth, remember the words. They remember the phrases they’ve crafted together here. Although often they won’t remember this moment tomorrow.

Each resident here in this room at Aegis Living of Edmonds has some type of memory loss, whether it be from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Friedman, an artist and songwriter, is the founder and director of Songwriting Works, an organization that engages classes like this one through eight principles: access, inclusion, originality, authenticity, respect, reciprocity, restoration and celebration.

“I fell in love with listening to people’s stories and being able to do something together with them rather than for them,” Friedman said. “It may seem paradoxical that people who have memory loss, including more mid to advanced-stage memory loss, are able to remember songs that are brand new that they’re writing.”

Yet, according to Friedman, many patients will be able to hum harmonies for days to come.

“They might not remember that they were here at the session. They might not remember they had anything to do with creating the song or singing it,” she said. “They might deny ever having heard it before and yet there’s a memory that may be in there because music lights up the brain more than almost any other human activity – that’s what brain science is showing us now.”

With the responses staff are seeing from residents, Aegis Living of Edmonds is considering expanding classes like this.

“What matters is that we’re in the moment and they’re getting to be themselves,” Friedman said. “If you hang out with them and they’re being themselves it doesn’t totally dissolve the heartbreak like if it’s your own mom or dad, but it gives a whole new life to possibility of how we can be together.”

Chanukah Tonight

A 90-something poet brings his Chanukah haiku to a Songwriting Works™ session and a new Chanukah song is born.

“Chanukah Tonight” Lyrics


A sheyne meydl is looking for her dreydl

Is it Chanukah? It’s Chanukah tonight!

A boy named Mendl is lighting the first candle

Is it Chanukah? It’s Chanukah tonight!


Yes, it’s Chanukah, it’s Chanukah tonight!

A joyous, freylach holiday

The eltere menschen sway and pray

Di kinderlach all laugh and play

It’s Chanukah, It’s Chanukah, It’s Chanukah tonight!


Applesauce and latkes

Chocolate gelt and tzachkes

Is it Chanukah? It’s Chanukah tonight!

We celebrate our history remembering the Maccabees

Is it Chanukah? It’s Chanukah tonight!



*Yiddish words:
Sheyne meydl = Beautiful girl
Dreydl = Spinning top played on Chanukah
Freylach = Joyful
Eltere menschen = Older folks
Di kinderlach = the children
Latkes = potato pancakes
Gelt = money, coins
Tchatchkes = trinkets, souvenirs

© 1998-99 Composing Together Works/ Jewish Home

Words and Music by elders of the Jewish Home San Francisco and Judith-Kate Friedman



A Song About Freedom / Una Cancion de Libertad


James Denman Middle school students and Jewish Home San Francisco residents discussed the Bill of Rights, shared immigrant stories, and the meaning of freedom and independence. They then crafted a song about freedom.  “A Song About Freedom” was written in the student’s native Spanish and the elders’ second language English as most were of German heritage, including several survivors of Nazi Germany. The song was written over the course of two one-hour sessions and shared with the wider community.

Judith-Kate Friedman facilitates the workshop
Judith-Kate Friedman facilitates the workshop
Differences in age are celebrated through song!
Songwriting Works brings people together across generational gaps

“A Song About Freedom / Una Cancion de Libertad” Lyrics


Sing a song about freedom

We have a right to be free

Sing a song about friendship, respect and liberty


Families are most important

Our love for them abounds

We support and we care for each other

We love to have them around

Love to have them around……


Tenemos derecho de ser libre

Canta una cancion de libertad

Canta una cancion de libertad, respeto y amistad


Familias son importantes

Abunda por ellos nuestra amor

Suportamos, cuidamos, nos queremos juntos

Nos gustan tenerlos alrededor, alrededor

© 1999 Composing Together Works/Jewish Home

Words and Music by Singers and Songwriters of the Jewish Home San Francisco and students from James Denman Middle School, with Molly Hershey, and Judith-Kate Friedman, California Arts Council artist-in-residence