Side by Side Singing — Soul Food for the Brain — August 20, 2014

Debbie Nordeen in action

Debbie Nordeen in action

Side by Side Singing: ‘Soul Food for the Brain’, is a new group singing initiative which promotes healthy aging, enhances brain function and strengthens vocal ability. Singing engages both sides of the brain and stimulates verbal and neurological functions, as well as releasing stress reducing endorphins. Those with short term memory loss and/or Parkinson’s disease, as well as their care partners, family and friends, are invited to participate. Those who cannot drive on their own must be accompanied by a care-partner.

Each session will begin with musical ice-breakers and vocal warm-ups, followed by singing rounds and well-known songs. Singers will be led in exercises to improve their breathing and vocalization. Though not designed to be a demanding performance choir with specific choral parts, simple harmonies will be taught, and those with a knack for singing harmonies will be encouraged to do so. A few invited singers from community choruses will be added to the mix in order to help anchor the harmony parts.

Songs will be chosen to promote feelings of joy and well-being drawing upon songs already familiar to participants as well as introducing new songs and rounds. Deliberate variation of dynamic range will be incorporated as part of the direction to help those with Parkinson’s improve their vocal control. Opportunities will be provided in each session for participants to sing solos and/or play rhythm instruments.

Each session will end with 20 minutes of socialization. Refreshments will be provided by the UUFH.

Parking is free. The sanctuary is handicap-accessible. You need not read music or be an experienced singer to participate fully.

These sessions are sponsored by the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness. NCCHW-Final-Logo-OL

Our host for this series of sessions is the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hendersonville.


SIDE BY SIDE April – May 2014

We just finished six weeks of Side by Side SInging at the Sherill Center (University of North Carolina Asheville) under the sponsorship of the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness. There were over 40 participants at our last session. We were joined by Jan and Beth Mallandine who led us in “This Little Light of Mine.” And four sopranos from Womansong helped us sing a new favorite composed by Lytingale Henrickson, “I Will Carry You.” We have a short video of this song and hope to be able to figure out how to post it soon. Oh the new technology has a very steep learning curve!

Debbie Nordeen and  Ruthie Rosauer switched off between playing the piano and leading the songs. In addition to our signature songs of “Side by Side” and “Happy Trails” we also sang “Those Were The Days,” “Swing Low,” “Always,” “Oh What A Beautiful Morning,” “What A Wonderful World” and a few others. We rocked out to the round “I Love the Mountains.” This round is particularly dear to our hearts as we could see the beautiful Appalachian Mountains outside our window as we sang. 

Below is a photo of Debbie and Ruthie leading the group in singing. Ruthie with tambourine.



This is a photo of some of the singers with Debbie. 


Debbie conducting a Side by Side Session

Debbie conducting a Side by Side Session

Side by Side — Singing along and having fun!

Debbie Nordeen leading a song

Debbie Nordeen leading a song


Ruthie Rosauer leading a song at Side by Side


Having fun at Side by Side, April 30, 2014

Sharing a song together — Side by Side. Debbie Nordeen and Ruthie Rosauer lead singers in rounds and songs each Wednesday at the Sherrill Center at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. Debbie and Ruthie switch off on playing the piano. But regardless of who is playing it is safe to say — everyone has fun! We hope you will join us!

Side by Side Singing is moving along . . .

We had have two Wednesday sessions this month and today will be the third! Attendance has been good and spirits high! I think it is very safe to say that a good time is being had by all! If you haven’t yet attended Side by Side you are  are still welcome to attend. You don’t need to commit to any specific number of sessions. Just drop by and see if it is your ‘cup of tea.’

To find us, go to the University of North Carolina Asheville Campus, follow directions for the Sherrill Center. When you are on Campus Drive look for the parking deck with a sign that says “P9 Parking for visitors” and park there. Someone will direct you to the parking spots for Side by Side. When you exit the parking deck there should be someone beckoning you to the correct door, but if not — the door says Center for Health and Wellness (it will be slightly off to your left). We are on the same level — no steps — in the Meditation Room. There will be signs marked ‘Side by Side’ and friendly faces to greet you.

We hope you’ll come sing with us — Side by Side.

Side by Side Singing Ready to Start

For those who haven’t been to the Sherrill Center on the campus of University of North Carolina Asheville, I thought I’d let you know that the parking garage where there will be reserved spaces for Side by Side Singing are in a parking garage with a sign in front of it marked “P9 visitor parking.” There will be someone at the entrance — just let them know you are with Side by Side and you will be directed where to park and from there we will have volunteers and signs to keep you pointed in the right direction to the Meditation Room.

Once you get to the Meditation Room we think you will love it — it is rounded on one side and has lots of windows. The ceiling is shaped in a way to create wonderful acoustics — perfect for singing.

We look forward to singing with you there!

Side by Side Starting April 2, 2014

Several of the singers at Side by Side in Asheville, NC

Several of the singers at Side by Side in Asheville, NC

We are happy to say Side by Side Singing will be starting again on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Thanks to the support of the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness we will be offering six weeks of sessions from 1 – 2:30pm each Wednesday from April 2 until May 7 in the Sherrill Center at the University of North Carolina Asheville.

Side by Side offers a positive musical and social experience for
people who have mild to moderate cognitive impairment such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or brain damage and their care-partners. These sessions are designed to enhance the quality of life for those with memory loss and reduce the stigma associated with it — through the communal experience of creating beautiful music in the present moment.

For more information about parking, finding the specific room we will be singing in (“How to Find Us”) health benefits of singing, and links to other similar groups around the world — there are pages on this blog devoted to those topics. There is even a page titled “About the Sessions” which will tell you exactly what you can expect the first time you attend a Side by Side session.

We hope you will come sing with us — side by side!

For additional information you can contact us through this blog or by email at: