Voices in Motion choir embraces technology, continues rehearsing during COVID-19

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WatchVoices in Motion is a multi-generational choir for people with memory loss that was launched in 2017 by the University of Victoria's Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health.

A choir in Victoria is providing support to those affected either directly or indirectly by dementia.

Voices in Motion is a multi-generational choir for people with memory loss that was launched in 2017 by the University of Victoria’s Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, there are more than 1.1 million Canadians affected either directly or indirectly by some form of dementia, and it often leaves many family and friends wondering and searching for ways to best support their loved ones suffering from it.

“It started as a research project,” says Voices in Motion artistic director Erica Phare-Bergand. “It’s continuing as that but it’s become much more. It’s a real community now.”

It’s a community that continues to stay together even as the coronavirus pandemic keeps them apart, thanks to the power of technology.

“We had to do a lot of coaching initially, to help people get online, but honestly, they’ve embraced it like pros and I’m really proud of them,” says Phare-Berg. “85 percent of our choir members have been online with us, rehearsing with us.”

To facilitate Zoom rehearsals, each singer must mute their computer, so it’s almost like singing a duet with a conductor.

“Not being there in person,” says Phare-Berg, “we really miss that. I mean, we need human contact. But at least we have something – we can see people, with technology.”

There are now five Voices in Motion choirs in Greater Victoria, three in the community and two in long term care facilities. And the husband and wife co-directors are grateful for any and all support that they receive.

“We are a non-profit society, so obviously there’s always some financial needs to continue this program,” says executive director Rick Bergh. “But the other thing we really want to encourage is that people just be involved in singing. We’re inviting people to actually come and check out Voices in Motion, and check out the choir, and so we have a summer singing series.”

And while singing in an embracing, accepting community choir may be of interest, Bergh says those who want to join need to have a genuine interest in dementia as well.

“[It is] just to really appreciate the people who are coming, and to learn about the disease as well, because we really are on a mission to create a dementia-friendly community,

Along with their Summer Singing Series, Voices in Motion also hosts a sing-a-long every Tuesday at 1 pm on Facebook Live. To learn more about Voices in Motion, please visit www.voicesinmotionchoirs.org.

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