In 2009 with support of the National Endowment for the Arts SW began inviting family members and friends to join with loved ones in memory care settings to compose songs in SW’s Signature Songwriting workshops.
“Dad doesn’t usually participate in things like this. I think he really liked the idea that you could take his song, his rhythm, and you used it immediately…” -Daughter of Participant
The pilot program yielded some surprising results:
- 70% of family members who attended returned for each session that followed or sent another family member.
- Survey questionnaires indicated that family members consider time songwriting with their loved one as respite from caregiving.
- Families reported increased communication with their loved ones living with memory loss and increased insight into their loved ones needs.
- Six months after the WWII Homecoming Song was composed in Western Washington state, the family of the gentleman whose story sparked the song wrote to say they’d re-united him with his twin brother in Ohio. They credited the songwriting experience as having allowed them to hear and understand their father’s deep need to be with his brother. They also noted that he was now singing in the his church choir, something which he had never before done.
Hear the WWII Homecoming Song and watch the video here.