Enjoyment in a recreational sing-along group for people with aphasia and their caregivers


Background: Literature exists documenting connections between music, health, and well-being. Group singing involving people with aphasia (PwA) and caregivers may be an enjoyable, leisure activity contributing to a successful life that includes aphasia. However, the benefits of group singing are only achieved if programming is sustainable. Little has been published about aspects of such programs that result in greater enjoyment, and by potential extension, reduced attrition.

Aims: To explore the feasibility of a recreational sing-along group for PwA and their caregivers that results in enjoyment.

Methods and Procedures: Study participants included five PwA, each accompanied by one caregiver. Prior to initiating the study, PwA were asked about their musical experience and their perceived relationship with their caregiver. Caregivers answered questions about their perceived levels of stress/burden. After participation in 10 group sing-along sessions, post-participation information was gathered so that the sing-along program could be modified if necessary to meet the interests of the participants. Post-participation information included questionnaires and interviews including ratings of song preferences (worded, non-worded, familiar, novel), environmental aspects of the sing-along, group dynamics, and the impact on caregiver stress/burden. Field notes maintained by the authors were used to support findings.

Outcomes and Results: Participants (PwA and caregivers) believed a public setting with meetings once every two weeks for at least 90 min would be more enjoyable than shorter weekly sessions. PwA with less musical experience rated the sing-along experience as more enjoyable than those with more experience. Both PwA and their caregivers expressed interest in singing worded songs, even when they found them less enjoyable, explaining that they believed it might have a positive impact on word finding skills for the PwA. Familiar music was more enjoyable to sing than novel songs. PwA enjoyed having their caregivers participate in the sing-along sessions rather than singing without them. Caregivers enjoyed singing with the group, but also welcomed the opportunity to have unstructured free time away from their partner with aphasia. Caregivers agreed the sing-along experience lowered their stress to a small degree.

Conclusions: The musical background of participants and song repertoire appear to play an important role in singing enjoyment. Overall, the sing-along group was perceived by the participants as an enjoyable social activity for both PwA and their caregivers. Notably, however, participation motivation was partially influenced by an underlying belief in the therapeutic speech-language potential of the activity.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

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Aphasia choir, leisure and recreation, music and aphasia, musical enjoyment, repertoire and enjoyment

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