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Innovative Health Care Magazine

85 ALL THAT POTENTIAL MEMBERS NEED IS A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AND A WILLINGNESS TO HAVE FUN. NO PRIOR SINGING ABILITY IS REQUIRED InnovativeHealthMag.com This unique idea of entertaining and inspiring audiences great and small, while serving as therapy to its participants, was conceptualized by Len while working as a psychotherapist in a rehabilitation facility for people recovering from traumatic brain injuries. A patient named Lewis entered the program, having spent the previous 18 years in a state hospital.  “He was distinctive because we knew he could talk, but he wouldn’t,” said Len. “Then one day, someone told me they had heard him singing!  When I saw him next, I said ‘I know you don’t like to talk but, can you sing?’ Well, Louis then belted out a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace!  I’m not sure why, but my response was, ‘We have a choir now and you are it!’  He and I met in my office and communicated by singing simple songs back and forth. After a while, he eventually began talking. “From one voice came many,” Len continued. “In the meantime, other patients heard our singing, asked me about the choir, and joined.  Soon the choir grew in numbers and we gave our first public performance. It took place at a talent show held by the Brain Injury Association of Michigan at their annual conference. We sang five simple songs and wore borrowed choir robes from a local church.  We didn’t produce a musical masterpiece, but we were a hit with the crowd and were invited back on the spot to perform the following year.” Since its inception in 18 years ago, Therapy Choirs of Michigan has grown to a total of approximately 75 members in three choirs in Farmington Hills, Auburn Hills, and Livingston County. They have performed 250 free shows with audiences including the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, the Archdiocese of Detroit Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Detroit Rescue Mission, Detroit Tigers, and former President Jimmy Carter with an audience of 2,000 at Habitat for Humanity. TCM performs at schools, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and rescue missions. The Choir has produced five CDs and appeared on five PBS TV specials and numerous radio shows. TCM also has inspired many able-bodied volunteers to join them. Some of these “Volunteer Voices” turn pages on the sheet music and help with the choir robes, and those with musical talent accompany the choirs with instruments or their voices. Sherry said, “Our goal at TCM is to create an exceptional group of vocalists, not necessarily in sound but in spirit.  We aim to provide a therapeutic experience to all who are involved with us, singers and volunteers alike. “All that potential members need is a positive attitude and a willingness to have fun. No prior singing ability is required.  Through our ‘choir therapy,’ we aim to inspire ‘differently abled’ people to enjoy all aspects of their life and to build their hope for the future.” In addition, TCM performances raise public awareness and educate the general population about the people who sing in its choirs. There is a place for everyone with TCM. As a Swedish proverb states, “Those who wish to sing always find a song.” TCM is always accepting new choir members and welcoming additional “volunteer voices,” but its major need is financial donations. Because many potential sources of funding categorize TCM as recreation and not therapy, medical-related grant applications are usually denied. No contribution from inspired IHM readers is too small. For more information: www.therapychoirs.org 248-476-9329


Innovative Health Care Magazine
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