February 28, 2020
Survivors who sing
Standing over a keyboard at the front of a beige conference room on a satellite college campus in Loudon, Virginia, Sweitzer, a music therapist, addressed the dozen or so adults seated in front of him. Some were joined by caregivers; others came solo. Everyone held sheet music.
“Let’s start by telling us one of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions,” Sweitzer said.
The group, a choir of stroke survivors that goes by the name Different Strokes for Different Folks, had just finished a more traditional vocal warm-up. But this next exercise wasn’t for the voice; it was for the brain.
The singers went around the room and traded stories of food and family. When it was Kernus’ turn, he told the group, “Pumpkin pie is one of my favorites. But on top of that, obviously, it’s football for me.”