~By Eric Delfino
Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language (typically in the left half of the brain). Because of the stroke I went through, I have aphasia. It may cause difficulties in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, but does not affect intelligence.
Several months ago, my speech language pathologist gave to the people in our aphasia group an article on music and aphasia. Since my stroke, I know people with my condition have difficulty in getting the words out, but for me, singing was no problem. Here was the beginnings of an answer: the parts of the brain devoted to music are generally unaffected by aphasia. Singing can be part of a stroke survivor’s rehabilitation.
I became quite excited: why couldn’t we have an “aphasia choir” in our area? I spoke to Brian Priebe, Calvary’s Music Minister about it, and explained what aphasia was. He arranged to come to our aphasia group meeting at Adventist HealthCare hospital in Gaithersburg. He brought some music (“Lean on Me”), which we sang totally without rehearsals. Suffice to say, he was very impressed!
Brian and I met to study the feasibility of such an approach. We then met with Pastor Mike who encouraged us to pursue this a new initiative that Calvary could support. We took the idea to the Church Council and explained it to the congregation who approved the request for $2,500 by in order for the program to get up and running for at least 1 year.
On September 22, 2015 the new aphasia choir met for the first time in the Calvary Sanctuary. Since then, we’ve met twice-monthly. Brian asked for and was awarded a Thrivent Action Teams grant for $250 to buy music for our rehearsals. We have grown from five members at our September meeting to ten members today and have since adopted the nickname the “Aphasia Tunes.” We will be holding a performance at Calvary on April 10th, singing “Dona Nobis Pacem” along with several other pieces.
I would like to thank all at Calvary who, with their financial gifts, make activities and ministries like the Aphasia Choir possible. I am excited to see how this new initiative will continue to bless the lives of others as we move forward. I know it has already been a great blessing to those involved.
If you are curious to learn more about aphasia and music, you can look up this article which was part of my inspiration for starting a choir in our area:
From Silence to a ‘Din of Interaction’
An SLP harnesses her musical passion to found a choir for people with aphasia.
Thank you again to Calvary for supporting this new initiative and allowing us to meet in the Sanctuary. And special thanks to Brian Priebe for leading us and to Annie Huson for playing the piano.