Adding another session — October 1, 2014


The sign-in desk at Side by Side Singing in Hendersonville. From left: Roxana White, Barbara Eck, Ruthie Rosauer, Jean Tuech.

The sign-in desk at Side by Side Singing in Hendersonville. From left: Roxana White, Barbara Eck, Ruthie Rosauer, Jean Tuech.


Singing during Side by Side sessions in Hendersonville has been enthusiastic and joyful. Originally planned for six sessions, we have decided to add an extra session to this series — we will now be singing on OCTOBER 1, 2014 as well.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville has been a wonderful host providing volunteers, space and refreshments. Located at the corner of Price Road and Kanuga Road in Hendersonville the parking is easy and the building is handicap-accessible. The NC Center for Health and Wellness UNC-Asheville continues to provide sponsorship.

From left: Ruthie Rosauer, Debbie Nordeen, Beth Mallindine, Jan Mallindine.

From left: Ruthie Rosauer, Debbie Nordeen, Beth Mallindine, Jan Mallindine.

Ruthie and Debbie play the piano, Jan Mallindine plays the guitar and the participants provide the vocals and rhythm section on such lively songs as “Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “This Little Light of Mine.”

Sessions are at 1:30 on Wednesdays through October 1. As one of our volunteers commented, “I must say you and Debbie have done a wonderful job with the group. I’ve never seen anyone get so much sound out of any group as you all have.” Those living with memory loss, Parkinson’s Disease, as well as their family and friends are invited to join this community singing initiative.


WOW — Sixty Singers Attended Side by Side’s Launch in Hendersonville!

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville hosted the first Side by Side session in Hendersonville, NC on August 20, 2014. And what a time we had! Debbie Nordeen and Ruthie Rosauer swtiched off between piano and song leading. Jan Mallindine played “This Land is Your Land” and “This Little Light of Mine” on the guitar. Katherine Price kindly sat in on the piano for “Climb Every Mountain.” 

Sixty singers sang with great gusto old favorites such as “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “Oh What A Beautiful Morning,” and “Sentimental Journey.” We also learned a new song, “I Will Carry You,” written by Lyte Henrickson. We sang in rounds, we sang in harmony, we sang in joy! If you missed the first session you are very welcome to join us for the next session — August 27 at 1:30. Delicious refreshments follow the singing to enhance our social time!

The event is sponsored by the NC Center for Health and Wellness. 

Article about Side by Side in Hendersonville Times-News

Duo use the power of song to help with healing

Ruthie Rosauer (on left) and Debbie Nordeen - facilitators

Ruthie Rosauer (on left) and Debbie Nordeen – facilitators

Debbie Nordeen, right, and Ruthie Rosauer are facilitators of Side By Side Singing.

Photo provided
By Gina Malone
Times-News correspondent
Published: Friday, August 15, 2014 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 11:44 p.m.
For those who have lost pieces of their past or had their voices diminished by disease, making “joyful noises” may be beneficial. That’s what Ruthie Rosauer and Debbie Nordeen, facilitators of Side By Side Singing, believe.

This new group-singing initiative sponsored by the N.C. Center for Health and Wellness has held two programs in Asheville, and will hold its first six-week program in Hendersonville starting Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Nordeen and Rosauer call their singing sessions “soul food for the brain.” Nordeen majored in music education, and has taught voice, directed choirs and performed in musical theatre for the last 25 years. She is the artistic director for Womansong of Asheville, a women’s community chorus. She began researching singing programs for those with cognitive challenges in 2012 after hearing about a choir made up of Parkinson’s patients.

“I decided I’d like to be a part of a movement to create positive experiences for our aging population,” Nordeen said, “and to help reduce social stigma for those living with cognitive disorders. With my background as a choral director, I naturally couldn’t think of anything more powerful than singing together, because singing takes place in the now. Music is magical that way.”

Retired from careers as an editor, economist and attorney, Rosauer says music is not just about making beautiful sounds.

“It can have therapeutic value,” she said.

She plays clarinet with the Hendersonville Community Band and sings with Womansong. Her volunteer time with a musical therapist in a hospital setting led to an interest in how singing might help people with short-term memory loss, such as that which can occur with dementia, Alzheimer’s and brain injuries. Since then she has done research on the many ways singing is beneficial to everyone’s health.

Just about anyone can sing, Rosauer said, though many think they cannot. Studies show benefits such as the increase of antibodies and the anti-stress hormone hydrocortisone, decreased instances of depression, slowed heart rates and feelings of relaxation.

For those with dementia, additional benefits include short-term memory improvement, increased positive moods and improved sociability. And, because participants in these sessions are required to be accompanied by a care partner, Rosauer has been delighted by the unexpected joy many of those caregivers express at singing “side by side” with their loved one.

One caregiver said, “This experience has been something new that we can share together as a couple, and that means the world to me.” Another said that a loved one who had not spoken much in the days before the singing session “sang every word in every song.”

Sessions in Hendersonville will be open to another group of participants — those with Parkinson’s disease. One effect of Parkinson’s may be a stiffening of vocal chords. As a result, “voices get soft, speech gets slurred,” Rosauer said, and tones may become flattened. Studies suggest that singing helps with volume, pitch, diction, vocal speed and posture.

As Rosauer puts it, “Deliberate variation of dynamic range will be incorporated … to help those with Parkinson’s improve their vocal control.”

Vocal warm-ups and musical ice-breakers start each session. Lyrics are provided for the rounds and well-known songs that follow. The growing song list contains ones that participants most likely heard while in their teens and 20s.

“These are the songs they resonate with,” Rosauer said. There are familiar popular tunes such as “As Time Goes By” and “Embraceable You,” as well as hymns and folk and patriotic songs.

The singing lasts about an hour, Rosauer said, though often calls for “just one more” cause things to run over a bit. At the end, “while they’re all feeling good and positive,” she said, they hold a social time with refreshments for about 20 minutes.

Rosauer said that “over a dozen volunteers … have helped make Side by Side the delightful experience it is,” not only by helping with tasks such as sign-ins and handing out music, “but just as importantly by adding their voices to the singing.”

“The results have been amazing,” Nordeen said. “Many participants have remarked that Side By Side Singing is a high point in their week.” She and Rosauer are now working on a how-to guide for people wishing to start singing groups in their areas.

Sessions in Asheville generally drew 45 to 50 people. The sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville will hold many more if necessary. “The Unitarian congregation has been unbelievable,” Rosauer said, providing not only space but extra volunteers and refreshments.

Weekly sessions, lasting from 1:30 p.m. until 3 p.m., are free and require no pre-registration. They will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 2021 Kanuga Road. Parking is free and the sanctuary is wheelchair-accessible.

No singing experience or music-reading ability is required. Participants must be accompanied by a care partner.

For more information, contact Ruthie Rosauer at 715-797-2260, or visit

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!