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Academy Point Residents Inspire Volunteer’s Special Song

Academy Point Residents Inspire Volunteer’s Special Song

When Dot Reiser steps through the door with her guitar case, the residents light up. She is a big draw during her monthly visits to Academy Point at Mystic in Mystic, Conn.

For Dot’s singalongs, she selects songs that stimulate memories and emotions for her audience. They are songs of “their day,” such as “You Are My Sunshine,” “Camp Town Races” and “Home on the Range.” And she introduces each tune along with its brief history.

  Benchmark Connections Coordinator  Alyson Fowler , accompanied by Dot, sings “What a Wonderful World” to residents of Academy Point.    

Benchmark Connections Coordinator Alyson Fowler, accompanied by Dot, sings “What a Wonderful World” to residents of Academy Point.

 

Singing is good for the soul and it makes us feel good,” says Regional Director of Programs Michelle Tristani. “And it’s something we can do all our lives. At Benchmark, we believe singing, especially group singing, improves the health and well-being of our residents."

“Dot fills our residents with such joy,” says Academy Point Executive Director Bonnie Pollard-Johnson. “At her first singalong, we were so touched we cried.”

For the residents choosing not to join in, there’s no escaping Dot’s charm. After the singalong, she seeks out loners and sings to them.

When singing to memory care residents, Dot’s goal is to help residents remember. “Music is the last thing to go in our memory,” she says. “It's in there deep and strong, and it has the power to inspire and awaken.”

A small miracle occurred recently when she sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” – the ultimate memory-care song, Dot says. It stirred the memories of a resident’s 40 years as an employee of Boston’s Fenway Park. “I was a very important person,” the resident exclaimed.

That encounter inspired a verse in Dot’s song, “Memory Care,” a collection of memories coaxed into the light by singing at Academy Point. (See lyrics below.) “A Bicycle Built for Two” awoke another resident’s memories of riding her bike in France as a girl.

“My lyrics come from life experiences, talking to people and noticing, always noticing,” she says. “I’ve written songs for many different organizations with a message that reflects their mission.”

  “Singing for memory care residents is like watching flowers open in the morning sun,” says Dot.

“Singing for memory care residents is like watching flowers open in the morning sun,” says Dot.

“We learn a lot about our residents from Dot,” says Programming Director Heather Farnell. “She has an amazing way of bringing out wonderful details to help us get to know our residents in new ways.”

Dot credits Margit Burgess, the daughter of a friend, for putting her heart into producing a music video of the “Memory Care” song. When it was recorded, the backup singers were Dot, Dot and Dot. That is, Dot sings bass, baritone, alto and soprano on different tracks. “Harmony is my favorite part. It’s like the whipped cream on a sundae.”

In addition to her voluntary appearances at Academy Point, Dot takes her music to patients at Beacon Hospice in South Kingston, R.I.; Chase Manor, an affordable senior housing community in Norwich, Conn.; and the children at her church.

Dot’s life lessons in song are available on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes and cdbaby.

Memory Care
By Dot Reiser, 2017

I'm sitting in my chair
I don't know who I am
What to do or why I'm here
I close my eyes and disappear,
She walks into the room
She smiles and says hello
She plays on her guitar and sings
her favorite song from long ago

Applause applause hooray hooray
Let's play another song
This one’s better than before
Try your best to sing along
....On a Bicycle Built for Two...

...I know who I am
I'm a little girl
Riding on my bicycle
I live in France,
I ride it everywhere
On the street that I recall
up a hill and round a bend
and where it ends...well,
I don’t know
But I know who I am

Applause applause hooray hooray
Let's play another song
This one’s better than before
Try your best to sing along
...to Take Me Out to the Ballgame...
take me out to the crowd...

...I know where I am
I'm working the team
For forty years I've worked the stands
At Fen- way park
I’ve got a lot of jobs
'cause I've worked here for forty years
I think I'm real important here
I know a lot (about the Sox)
Yeah I know where I am...

(Bridge)
The tulip flowers close their petals tightly in the morn
Til rays of sunshine press upon them, yellow bright and warm
Bursting wide they lift their petals, bravely to the sky
It's just same with memory, how music brings it back to life.

Do you know who I am?
I'm your little girl
Playing songs on my guitar
to bring you back to my world
We'll talk about the time
You taught me how to ride a bike
Up the hill and round the bend
And how the Red Sox won again
Do you know who I am?
 

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