12 Week Course: Lead Your Own Memory Choir

Cheryl Hodge, President of the Dementia Singalong Therapy Program


WELCOME; SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN THIS PAGE for tools, course description, and the 12-Week online training course outline. President, and former Berklee College of Music voice & sight singing instructor, Cheryl Hodge, leads you through a  series of exercises, familiar songs, cueing mechanisms, and story skills. These help to create new neural pathways in brains of residents & loved ones affected by dementia. The methods have been shown to improve memory in choir participants. You will learn to play by memory 36 songs (chords, lyrics, melody). You will be able to lead the group in a warm up designed to increase the oxygen level in the singers' brains, and relax their throat to ready them for singing. You will understand vocal cues & visual cues. You will learn how to help your choir "mine memories". A non-accredited course. Cost of course: $225. (Includes a digital download of pictured book + companion song mp3s), as well as weekly instructive videos, music, class material, projects and quizzes.

YES!  I want SIGN-UP for this Online 12-Week Course!  (Click on image to register for course). As soon as you pay and provide your email address, we will begin sending you one lesson per week. COST of course is $225.

YES! I want SIGN-UP for this Online 12-Week Course! (Click on image to register for course). As soon as you pay and provide your email address, we will begin sending you one lesson per week. COST of course is $225.

Before you sign up and pay for this 12 week online course, you will need to be aware of a few things (Read down to the bottom of this webpage before paying):

- This is a NON-ACCREDITED course. However, you will be learning to employ a series of tools, from which you will be taught how to generate work for yourself in the field of teaching Memory Choirs. There is no guarantee of providing work for you; but we will show you how!  See Week-by-Week Lesson Plan, below.

-  This is NOT a music theory course. Before you take this course you need to already know how to play and sing songs from memory. This is because you will be guiding a group, helping THEM memorize!  

-   Course money is non-refundable ($225. total) Sign up and pay by clicking on the image to the left. Congratulations!

INTRODUCTION TO COURSE TOOLS/MATERIALS; WHAT TO EXPECT                                                                

Your instructor will email you the links to private webpages which contain weekly lessons. 

1.  Tools needed to qualify to attend this course: 

a.  Before taking this week-by-week online course, you should already know how to play basic triads in all keys on either guitar or piano. If you can't do this then you will most likely find the course frustrating .  I would suggest taking a few months (prior to taking this course) learning how to play basic chords and sing on a few memorized songs!  Learn to sing without looking at the chords while you are playing.  Helpful theory links: Basic guitar chords/voicings:  https://www.guitar-chord.org/chart.html Basic piano chords:  http://www.kidung.com/chord_piano.htm, Voice leading keyboard techniques: https://online.berklee.edu/takenote/basic-piano-voicing-techniques/

b.  Download text book & mp3s:  Alzheimer’s, Dementia & The Healing Power of Music (sent to you after you pay the course fee).

c.  Instruments, etc. A light weight (easy to carry) keyboard (preferable), or acoustic guitar.  Optional:  percussion toys; table that raises and lowers. 

2.   Skills you will learn in this class: 

a.  Leading a memory choir in warm-ups 

b.  Knowing 36 songs on the list of possible memory choir songs. (Playing basic chords of songs in "universal" keys listed, on keyboard or guitar) 

c.  Able to give word cues before lines in songs, while playing 

d.  Able to give visual cues, while playing and singing 

e.   Able to lead a memory choir in discussion, between songs; able to help direct a conversation to bring up memories 

f.   Able to help residents understand how to remember lyrics (rhyming, storyline, couplets)

g.   Able to always show  an optimistic attitude; and social skills. (demonstrate a sense of humor; good listening skills.) 

YOU WILL BE SENT BY EMAIL a total of TWELVE LESSONS. See course outline, below:

Week by Week Outline - Memory Choir Course 


Overview of course. Review/explanation of course outline. Presentation of materials/tools needed.                                                                  Presentation of songs to be learned;  Easy, Medium Difficult, Difficult                                                                                                                                Lecture:  History of Memory Choir Development. Why this is an effective method for people with memory issues. Bloom’s Taxonomy; what it is and why it is important.  Warm-ups, hand-cues, verbal cues. How to choose songs. How to get choirs singing. How to get choirs in discussion mode.   First assignment:  Make sure you have the essential tools for this course. Begin to design your own path. How can you use this knowledge to help others? Purchase a journal or begin an online diary. Keep a daily diary entry as you go.  Read through Chapters 1-3 in book.  Begin work (piano or guitar) on 3 songs from the "Easy to Play"  list given to you. Have them memorized (both singing and playing).


Lecture component.  The Pathology of Memory Choirs. How the brain works with music, generally speaking. How the process of learning music for individuals with a normal brain differs from those who are suffer with a compromised memory.  Further explanation of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Second Assignment: Learn to play and sing 3 songs from the “Easy List”.  Read Chapters 4 and 5 in book. 


Health considerations for the memory care unit residents. How to maintain a healthy regimen. Presentation of the daily warm-ups and vocal techniques. View lecture components. Learn the abbreviated types of warm-ups we use for Memory Choirs. A review of "whys".  Why memorization? Why not read printed music with the residents? Why do I just use the words and chord symbols; what's up with that?  Basic theory discussion; voice leading chords. The term “voice leading” refers to the way in which individual voices move from chord to chord. The best voice leading occurs when all individual voices move smoothly. You can achieve this by moving between chords using the same note or moving up or down by a step in the inner voices of the chord, whenever possible. Why these exact songs and exact keys?  Third assignment:  Learn to play and sing 3 more songs from the easy list. Begin practicing the new Memory Choir Warm-ups (LECTURE 1 on THIS PAGE) every day.  Practice voice leading chords (LECTURE  2 on this page) and work on not having to look all the time at your music.  Read Chapter 6 from your book.


Learning the importance of cueing mechanisms. Lecture component:  Going in with an excited positive attitude.  Dealing with spacial displacement and other challenges.  The importance of “me” and “I”.  Hand cues, and why they help. Verbal cues.  Eye contact. Learning names of choir members, and repeating them.  The importance of your reactions. Identifying the people in the group who love to sing the most (what cues work the best?)   Fourth assignment:   Learn 3 more songs from the easy list.  Incorporate cueing into the songs you have learned (hand cues, verbal cues, eye contact). 


Exploring new material.  Incorporating choir members' personal favorites. Lecture component.  Pacing an hour set. What songs work the best in your group, and how to determine that. Assignment:  Learn 3 more songs from the Easy List.  Take the open book quiz.  Introducing the Medium-Difficult Songs (View Lecture).


Lecture component:  The “Questioning Period”.  Assignment: Learn 3 more songs from the Easy List and/or the Medium-Difficult list.              MIDTERM ASSIGNMENT:  Create a ten minute mp4 of you singing, playing and cueing an imaginary choir.  Keep in mind that you may want to use this later when you are looking for memory choir work.  Include a short warm-up, followed by 2 of the songs you have learned.  Email with the mp4 attachment   (SUBJECT:  Midterm mp4) to cherylhodge09@gmail.com.  She will mail you back an assessment as to how you did.


Lecture Component:  Pacing.  Keeping the excitement. Incorporating percussion toys.   How to design your hour with the group. First rehearsal vs. subsequent rehearsals.  Acknowledging singular and group successes.  Keeping the pace exciting.  Assignment:  Learn 3 songs from the Medium-Difficult list 


Introduction of the "Difficult Songs". Lecture component.  Teaching the choir NEW material.   Assignment:  Learn 3 songs from the Medium-Difficult list and/or from the Difficult list. 


Lecture component:  The Importance of Creating Group Goals.  Group performances.  Assignment:  Learn 3 songs from the Medium-Difficult list and/or from the Difficult list. 


In these final weeks you will pace yourself any way that suits you best.   Begin work on final assignment. FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Create a twenty minute mp4 of you singing, playing and cueing an imaginary choir.  Include a short warm-up, followed by 3 of the songs you have learned.  These can all be from the Easy and Medium-Difficult lists, if you want.  The object is for this to function as a demo from which you may get work! When you finish it, you will save the mp4 to YouTube or Vimeo. 


Making a Living. About taxes.  Working with Activities Directors.  Working with Caregivers.  Lecture component.  Assignment:  Learn 3 songs from the Medium-Difficult list and/or from the Difficult list.  Read Chapter 7 from textbook. Begin work on Final Assignment (see Week 12). It will end in a better quality demo for you.


Lecture component: How to trouble-shoot.  Keeping track of individuals progress. How do handle difficult and/or disruptive outbursts. Your liability.  Read Chapter 8 from textbook. Assignment:  Learn 3 songs from the Difficult list.   


Lecture Component:  Getting the word out about what you do. Finding work. Creating a tour. FINAL DUE AT END OF WEEK (see Week 10): Create a twenty minute mp4 of you singing, playing and cueing an imaginary choir.  Include a short warm-up, followed by 3 of the songs you have learned. Send the link (use Vimeo or YouTube) thru email to me, Cheryl Hodge (President, Dementia Singalong Therapy): cherylhodge09@gmail.com.  I will mail you back an evaluation, and a final assessment as to how you did.  If I think you are ready to go out there and do it, I will mail you back a grade of "PASS".

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