Our Community Service Organization
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During our eigth grade school year, we decided to form a Destination Imagination team. Destination Imagination (DI) is a rigorous club in which the members practice creative problem solving. Each team chooses a challenge to pursue throughout the school year. A challenge provides the guidlines for a specific type of project and presentation. Our team happened to choose the projectOUTREACH challenge, which is based mainly on community service. The projectOUTREACH challenge for the 2009-2010 school year was to use music to creatively help the community. After careful thought, we decided on playing music at nursing homes. We succeeded at our DI challenge and even advanced to Global Finals! After the year drew to a close, we made the decision to continue our service although DI had finished. So here we are, one year later, continuing our musical journey.
We have played at several different nursing homes since the summer before our freshman years. Here is a list of nursing homes we have performed at and their corresponding months.
August-the Summit at Westlake Hills
November-Emeritus at Spicewood Springs
December-Cedar Ridge Alzheimer's Special Care Center
January-Heartland Health Care Center
March-Park Bend Health Center
June-Retirement and nursing center
For a full list of all of our nursing home performances since the commencement of our project, please visit our events page.
There are several ways to help the community through music, and playing at nursing homes with us is one excellent option. If you live in the Austin area, then visit our "Contact Us" page to send us a message. We will see if we can accomodate you into our group for an upcoming performance and let you know as soon as possible. If you do not live in the Austin area, I suggest that you form your own music group, or join an existing one in your area!
Several scientific studies have been conducted to establish a link between musical exposure and the health of an elderly impaired person. Music therapy and musical tasks in general help nursing home residents improve their motor skills and cognitive abilities. We have personally witnessed dramatic positive changes in the behavior of the nursing home residents we perform for. For example, one resident who could not remember our names spontaneously recalled all of the lyrics to "Edelweiss". Another person suddenly remembered her father's quartet from the 1940s. Music evokes childhood memories in a way that no other medium can. There are also physical benefits to our audiences. For example, one woman who always had trouble standing, jumped to her feet to clap for us after a performance at Gracy Woods 1 Nursing Center.
There are several organizations across the world that play music at nursing homes, but only a select few of them tailor programs specifically designed to improve the memories of Alzheimer's patients and the motor skills of other impaired nursing home residents. We choose songs from the childhoods of our audiences and include a wide variety of genres to encourage the maximum audience participation. Increasing the involvement of the nursing home residents in our music (by, for example, performing specially conducted sing-alongs) improves their states of awareness and their overall sense of well-being. We witness dramatically positive changes in the demeanors of the nursing home concerts at the conclusion of each of our concerts. We make interaction an essential component of every musical experience.