Group Of Utah Musicians Make ‘Singing Telegrams’ For Elderly During COVID

Jan 10, 2021, 10:41 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 8:21 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — These have been lonely times for the elderly, many of whom are in nursing homes, locked away from family and friends. That’s why a group of Utah musicians that usually tours those facilities, but can’t because of the pandemic, hasn’t stopped reaching out with a song.

For 25 years, Heart & Soul has been bringing music to the elderly and other isolated populations.

These days, they deliver what they call “singing telegrams.”

Marlena Lambert — a massage therapist, guitarist, singer and Heart and Soul board member — recently delivered a few from her living room. She sang in front of an iPad, and a nursing home worker carried another screen from room to room.

“It’s actually more relaxed, playing in my living room with my dog by my side,” she said. “I was a little worried that it would be kind of, you know, cold and flat, but it actually felt very personal. I felt in some ways more connected to each person because I felt like I was looking right into their faces.”

“I really like to think of our music visits as a family visit — a family visit with music — and I’m getting to know people, you know,” said Anke Summerhill, who is also a massage therapist, guitarist and singer. “I really had my doubts about (performing on video calls) at first, but it actually does work. You know, I’ve had people reach out and want to give me a hug through the screen.”

“It’s the healing power of music,” Lambert said. “That’s our tagline for Heart and Soul, but music truly can be a healing force, and it can change your whole outlook.”

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Group Of Utah Musicians Make ‘Singing Telegrams’ For Elderly During COVID