Elders, Children, and Music: A Strong Connection

July 29, 2016
Denise Hyde

A heart-warming story from Mercy Retirement & Care Center, Oakland, CA

Emily Sanderson, a Certified Eden Associate and music therapist, at Mercy Retirement & Care Center had an idea. She knew many of the Elders had taught children or cared for babies in their careers, and lives, and wanted more opportunities to connect with children in the community. She also knew that music is a powerful connector for Elders living with dementia. She combined those two needs and came up with a plan.

Emily started writing and composing songs with Elders (who were living with dementia) two yearsMercy ret ctr songs 1 ago. Because the Elders missed connecting with children, they suggested that the songs they were writing should be sung by children. Emily reached out a local first grade class that traditionally visits the Elders at Christmas time. For their teacher, the words of the song were important to the children. The lyrics are about choice, reading books, enjoying nature, respecting others, and having the courage to be a leader.

After a few months of practice, their plan came together. Two dozen first-grade students from Piedmont’s Corpus Christi School learned the five songs and came and sang them to the Elders. Although some of the Elders did not remember writing the songs, they did recognize the words and the meaning. You can actually be a part of the experience through this video.

The Elders were very gracious to share the lyrics from their songs for this blog. Here are the lyrics to Let It Shine! They are inspiring words and sentiments.

Refrain: I’m a leader, not throwing it away!

I’m gonna show my talents each and every day

And let it shine — I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid!

Verse 1: I’m going to be kind and help others on their way

Whatever song I know how to do I’ll share with others too

And let it shine – I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid!


Mercy ret ctr songs 2Verse 2: I can’t share everything because I don’t have everything

But I can share what I have, and that’s all that we need.

And let it shine – I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid!


Verse 3: A lot of them are very good at dancing to the beat

Don’t keep still, keep going, going, sing and tap your feet.

And let it shine! I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid!


The local newspaper, Bay Area News, covered the story as well. Their language and assumptions could use some “Edenizing,” but their heart is in the right place. Check out the story.

No comments

Leave a Reply