Threshold choirs: voluntary singing to people in palliative care

Are you looking for an extra activity and a way of quietly helping others (otherwise known as volunteering)? If you’re already singing in a choir and free to attend weekly rehearsals, you’re eligible to join a Threshold choir. There may be one in your area. Their voluntary work consists of singing quiet, appropriate songs, on request, to people who are in palliative care, perhaps close to death.

The style, protocol and choice of music are carefully calibrated and by now, well proven as a way to comfort people near the end of their lives. Music heals.

This dedicated voluntary work is particularly suitable for seniors and retirees, as events (known as “sings”, I believe) are likely to take place on weekdays.

On retirement from a regular full-time job, many are naturally attracted to some kind of volunteering. We look for unpaid work that suits us personally, one that will provide an alternative structure and an extra zing to our week. I see my friends engaging in activities that are just right for them personally, suiting their talents and interests and schedule.

The Threshold Choir (a worldwide organisation) was a new concept to me. There’s room for many more in the world! Is that going to be your thing?


10 thoughts on “Threshold choirs: voluntary singing to people in palliative care

  1. Cathy Cade says:

    Here in the UK there has been an increase in singing groups for the disabled, including those with Alzheimers. Memories of music ioften survive when other memories are lost.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I hadn’t heard about groups singing for Alzheimers groups, only about the power of music in general for people with Alzheimers and Parkinsons. This activity must be demanding and rewarding and rather wonderful. Thanks Cathy.

  2. Su Leslie says:

    What a wonderful thing to do. I’m sure my m-I-l’s last days would have been so much better had she been able to hear music. Sadly, although many family members were around her, none of us thought to even play a CD ☹️

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So… shall we put that suggestion into our end-of-life plan? It’s not surprising you didn’t think of it, and yet—so simple. Next time.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        It’s definitely going into my end-of-life plan!!

  3. Gallivanta says:

    Threshold choirs are a wonderful idea. Would I want one at the end of my life? Not sure, although if they could sound like waves on the shore or birds in the morning, then, maybe. My father didn’t want music, any music at all, towards the end of his life. In his last few days he seemed content to have us sitting in his room, gently chatting or simply silent.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I think harmony and melody would matter. It’s by request so nobody will invade our privacy. Voices as waves or birds: brilliant. There must be songs that do this?

      1. Gallivanta says:

        Surely, yes.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I knew that there were harpists who did this, but not singers. I have told my daughter, a singer, that I want her to sing me out, but she doesn’t think she would be able to.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Not alone maybe but with a couple of friends
      ? A friend of mine did this it was the one thing that calmed her mother.

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