Music always brings back memories.

“Perfect Harmony was developed five years ago by the Great American Songbook Foundation with the idea of ​​returning to the way music was originally enjoyed – as a community experience in which family, friends and loved ones grabbed a sheet of music, gathered around a piano and enjoyed music together, ”said Renée La Schiazza, program director of the Great American Songbook Foundation. “The songs selected by the Perfect Harmony program are aligned with music that was popular when most older adults were in their late teens or early adulthood. Research suggests that music from this time in a person’s life has special significance due to biological factors and life experiences that connect our memories to the feelings we experienced during this time of transformation. For the elderly today, it is usually the music of the Great American Songbook, the most important and influential American popular songs, Broadway hits and early 20th century jazz standards that have stood the test of time.

La Schiazza, a Carmel resident and 2012 Carmel High School graduate, said over the past year, Perfect Harmony has grown into an online resource for seniors in Indiana and the United States, especially those who struggle with isolation and limited social engagement due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Caregivers, business leaders and other healthcare professionals from over 100 senior care organizations in Indiana and Canada take advantage of Perfect Harmony’s free online resources each month by signing up for monthly emails and accessing materials at / Perfect Harmony.

Allegra Hein, Board Certified Music Therapist, has been seeing Perfect Harmony since 2018 (Wayne Images)

Allegra Hein, an Indianapolis resident, Board Certified Music Therapist, has been seeing Perfect Harmony since 2018.

“The consultation I offer at Perfect Harmony is based on my clinical experience with seniors as a regional music therapist for Justus Senior Living,” said Hein. “Growing up in a family of professional musicians, I was exposed early on to the benefits of listening to music and participating. However, it wasn’t until I started studying music therapy that I began to understand how beneficial music can be when used as a therapeutic tool by a trained professional. In music therapy, we use music in a clinical setting to improve functioning in areas such as cognition, communication, physical skills, social skills, and mental and emotional health. It’s amazing how the brain’s processing of music, which occurs throughout the brain rather than a localized region, can improve the quality of life for an individual who needs to increase their physical strength, to regain speech after a stroke, to maintain cognition, etc.

Olivia Broadwater with her late grandmother Sara Broadwater

‘Singing for smiles’

Zionsville Community High School 2020 graduate Olivia Broadwater saw the impact music had on her grandfather with Alzheimer’s disease when she was younger.

“I would go to the nursing home and sing and dance for him in the room,” said Broadwater. “He got to the point where his abilities deteriorated and he couldn’t speak nor feed himself and he was looking around the corner. He always looked up when I sang. It’s the only thing that brought it back to us. It struck me because I realized very early on how powerful music is. “

So when she had to create a platform when she was the outstanding teenager at the Miss Fall Festival in 2018, it occurred to her that she should combine her passion for the Alzheimer’s Association and music. So she created “Singing for Smiles”.

“My grandmother (Sara Broadwater) recently passed away from Alzheimer’s disease and my other grandmother (Diane Perkins) was recently diagnosed with dementia,” said Broadwater. “This is something that has been so important in my life. I think it’s been heartwarming for me to know that I have music and it’s a way for me to constantly reach them and continue to honor them through my work with the organization and the platform.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadwater performed in nursing homes and memory centers. She sang with the Perfect Harmony program at an outdoor event in the summer of 2020.

“We sang outside at a Carmelite nursing home,” she said. “We did a virtual nursing home show with some of my Ball State classmates and also created a link for the audience with a link to my The Longest Day donation page for Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. she declared.

Broadwater, who will compete for Miss Indiana in June, finished among the top 10 finalists at Songbook Academy in 2018.

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