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!
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.”