Singing for the Brain

Singing for the Brain is a service provided by Alzheimer's Society which uses singing to bring people together in a friendly and stimulating social environment.

Singing is not only an enjoyable activity, it can also provide a way for people with dementia, along with their carers, to express themselves and socialise with others in a fun and supportive group.

Hidden in the fun are activities which build on the well-known preserved memory for song and music in the brain. Even when many memories are hard to retrieve, music is especially easy to recall.

Do I need to be good at singing to join?

No - everyone's welcome whether you already sing or not, and you don't need to read music. Our trained singing leaders are skilled in teaching songs from scratch at a pace that includes everyone. People from all walks of life and at different stages of dementia enjoy 'Singing for the Brain' and, after their first visit, nearly always come back for more.

What sort of songs will we sing?

A range of different songs are sung from different eras, musical styles and traditions and according to the preferences of the group. The 'Singing for the Brain' model involves trying new pieces of music but also essentially familiar and well known songs and melodies.

What can we expect?

We meet regularly, once a week or fortnight, and sessions last for about one and half to two hours and include a relaxed welcome with refreshments on arrival. After about half an hour the singing leader calls everyone into a circle and uses a greeting song to welcome everyone by name. The session begins with some gentle tried and tested vocal warm-ups and breathing exercises used by singers around the world to strengthen the voice, ease tension and relax the muscles in hands, feet, neck and shoulders. This increases lung capacity and increases blood flow to the brain, helping keep the brain in optimum condition.

Action songs increase the playful exercise element and give challenges to the brain which people with memory problems often cope with very well. Use of rounds, call and response, and other ways of creating simple harmonies helps concentration. Well known songs are used to evoke verbal and emotional memories. New songs are taught to help challenge and extend skills. Sessions are usually unaccompanied though some leaders occasionally use a keyboard and invite light percussion or other accompaniment from participants. We generally finish with a quieter song as a calming finale, and to wish each other well till we meet next time.

Is there a Singing for the Brain group near me?

Use our Dementia Connect service to find out if there is a group local to you.

How can I get involved in Singing for the Brain as a volunteer? 

Volunteers are vital to the success and smooth running of the 'Singing for the Brain' sessions. To find out about existing volunteering opportunities please contact your local Alzheimer's Society branch