Sharing songs, making music

Each Saturday morning Ting Choo heads to St Andrews Care Home in South Dunedin where she volunteers, playing the piano and interacting with many of the 78 residents.

Ting began volunteering twelve months ago, after seeing an online ad looking for volunteers to play music in the home. As an international student, Ting was feeling isolated, and was keen to do something meaningful that connected her with others.

Ting often plays in an area of the home where residents living with various levels of dementia reside. She began reading and researching about dementia, the brain and psychology and this was something that Ting has become passionate about.

Using music and dance to enhance wellness for older adults living with dementia is the central topic of Ting’s Masters thesis, which she is completing through the University of Otago. Interaction with St Andrews residents over the last year has formed part of her research for the thesis.

Amongst all of this, Saturday playing has remained an essential part of Ting’s week. You get the sense she wouldn’t miss it for anything.

“The responses from residents may not be very visible but I know playing music brings something positive to the home. I play a mix of fast and slow pieces and different songs appeal to different people. Some tap along or sing, and when I’m finished the residents will clap and smile.”

Ting is now playing on two newer pianos that were generously donated by Dunedin residents. One of the songs Ting plays represents her thoughts about these new pianos. Which song might this be? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!


Presbyterian Support Otago always needs more volunteers to assist with our Family Works and Enliven programmes, and in our shops. Find out more about volunteering.