Giving Voice Initiative (GVI), created in 2015, is a leader in the worldwide movement to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and their partners to live better lives, and to strengthen connection to their community by singing together. This model music chorus program uses a well- honed learning paradigm that includes accessible well adapted music, uniquely trained music leaders, built-in social time, all culminating in celebratory concert performances for the community. Their foundational belief is that creating music together is a gateway to demonstrating how to live well with dementia. Today over 200 members, most 65+ yrs, sing in three flagship choruses in Minnesota. GVI has inspired over 40 choruses across the US, Canada and Australia.
Key accomplishments include demonstrating that people living with dementia are capable of new learning. In 2018, a collaboration with the American Composers Forum created the opportunity to tell the singer’s own stories of struggle, resilience and gratitude. Nine original songs were performed by 170 singers at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (St. Paul, MN) before 1,000 people. The Love Never Forgets concert was a significant achievement in defying stigma and acknowledging creative expression.
GVI engages community partners for quantitative and qualitative research to document the powerful connection between neurochemistry and the psycho-social benefits of singing, for both persons with dementia and care partners. Their program model, rooted in replication, offers a free online toolkit, including detailed assistance in planning and operating choruses for use in a variety of different communities, webinars and on-line learning, and an annual 2-day national convening of chorus programs to help foster collective learning, share best practices, and build a collaborative network to help bring these program to communities far and wide!