Choirs raise elderly people's spirits

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Two Baden-based choirs joined forces on Saturday to bring joy and a breath of spring to the old people's home in Ennetbaden. Katalin Fekete reports.

"It has become a tradition for Baden's children's choir and Ennetbaden's Catholic church choir to come here in spring and give a concert," said co-organiser Marlies Wicki, in charge of recreational activities at the care home.

The group of 37 singers, five flautists and a trumpet player performed a medley of familiar spring and folk songs that went down well with the care home residents.

Wicki said the concert was a very special occasion, as they seldom had that many people visiting at the same time. The children turned the care home into a bustling place, and their liveliness and vitality invigorated the elderly. "It was a bit loud but I love it when there is a lot going on," one of the elderly ladies said.

The residents greatly enjoyed the performance, especially because of all the children participating, Wicki said: "Children bring joy and happiness to the elderly, you can tell just by looking at their faces." She added that the positive impact of the concert on the elderly people - also on those unable to speak or express themselves - would be noticeable for many weeks.

Susanne Wetzel, choirmaster and flautist, said the concert also meant a lot to the children. "It is a highlight for the children, partly because their parents are in the audience and because they realise they can give them great pleasure."

She said making music enriches one's life tremendously: "I've noticed that singing is good for the children, for their well-being and development, as it evokes a feeling of happiness and contentment."

It has been shown that music training also has a positive effect on the brain development. "Playing and practising an instrument helps develop the neural network between the right and left sides of the brain to a much greater extent than any other activity," Wetzel said.

The idea of giving an annual concert at the care home came about in 2004 when Wetzel took over the 20-member choir for primary school children. The event, now in its seventh year, is jointly organised by the care home Pro Senio and the two choirmasters.

Concert rehearsals start about five to six weeks before the performance so as to give the children, especially the younger ones, enough time to learn the songs.

Conducting a children's choir was quite different from being a choirmaster of a well-established and long-running choir, because of the turnover and the singers' ages, Wetzel said.

"Working with the children is a challenge, but it is also stimulating because of their enthusiasm and childlike openness," she said.


Katalin Fekete / Expatica 2011

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