Got a minute? Find out how Drew Johnson Laney is enhancing lives

Posted by Monica Hoel

On Thursdays, you can often find Drew Johnson Laney (re’83) playing the ukulele and singing with a bunch of stuffed animals on Zoom.

But don’t worry about her: she’s working.

A Board-Certified Music Therapist, Drew organizes a regular Zoom sing-a-long for folks dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. While interviewing the president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) on her Radio Free Nashville radio show, she found out about a lot of online activities the AFA has scheduled for patientsDrew Johnson Laney is all smiles as she leads a Zoom sing-along for Alzheimer's patients.and their caregivers. She had been teaching a ukulele class and had recently had to move it online because of COVID-19: and she saw an opportunity.

Now, some of her ukulele students get to practice with her while she leads the group in a “muted mic sing-along” – the sound delay is just too distracting, so Drew is the only one you hear singing! She sings songs people aged 50-100 are likely to know without looking at a song book. “I avoid using songs that require a lyric page because of less eye contact (thank you Dr. Chick Davis). I try to throw in trivia, stretching, hydration, COVID masks, hats, sit down dancing, and tasteful goofiness.” That’s why there are so many stuffed animals attending her sessions.

Drew says musical activities like this have a variety of good health benefits. “It can create an emotional connection to their younger days, it stimulates word recall and the Broca area of the brain, and singing also strengthens the speaking voice and forces deeper breathing therefore benefiting lung elasticity. Some folks can sing long after they have ceased to speak. And it can also be an activity for adult children and their parents to share that is free of anxiety.” She gets great feedback from participating families who let her know that the sing-a-longs “brightened mom’s day!” or “perked her up and added positivity!”

Drew was one of only 4 music majors while at Emory & Henry, and she says she didn’t realize what a gift that small size was until she went to other larger schools. And she is grateful for the instruction she received from all the members of the music department, including piano lessons with Dee Dee Davis. “Mrs. Davis’ Piano Pedagogy class helped me prepare for music therapy activities. Her style of teaching was always intelligent and kind.”

It may seem a little crazy to record a group sing-along with participants who are muted, but Drew will attest that the interaction with fun, happy people will go a long way to improve the day of an Alzheimer’s patient. “When pleasant, trustworthy faces come into view for an isolated person, it’s like a bouquet of flowers, a gift with no strings attached. These songs and friendly faces can help a person with Alzheimer’s feel the familiarity of warm relationships.”

You can find out more about this musical event and other AFA programming at alzfdn.org.

  • Drew Johnson Laney with guitar and a big smile leading friends in music.
Drew Johnson  Laney
E&H reunion Class of 1983
Board Certified Music Therapist

More News

  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1089-michael-shipley-is-serving-the-us-army"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,48,1113,1161/7227_70f32a45-9878-4491-8077-bd32ad638569_1.rev.1576081946.jpg" alt="Michael Shipley (E&H '13) and his wife Nicolette and daughter Elizabeth." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,48,1113,1161/7227_70f32a45-9878-4491-8077-bd32ad638569_1.rev.1576081946.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,48,1113,1161/7227_70f32a45-9878-4491-8077-bd32ad638569_1.rev.1576081946.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1113" data-max-h="1113"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1089-michael-shipley-is-serving-the-us-army">Michael Shipley is Serving the US Army</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">He is a Company Executive Officer in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy. <a href="/live/news/1089-michael-shipley-is-serving-the-us-army" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/75-kurtz-appointed-to-atlanta-area-agency-on-aging"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,232,216/741_kurtz.rev.1507059839.jpg" alt="Becky Kurtz E&H '84" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="232" data-max-h="216"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/75-kurtz-appointed-to-atlanta-area-agency-on-aging">Kurtz Appointed to Atlanta Area Agency on Aging</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Becky Kurtz is heading back to Atlanta after serving as a chief U.S. administrator. <a href="/live/news/75-kurtz-appointed-to-atlanta-area-agency-on-aging" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg" alt="Rachel Harrison, E&H Class of 2019, at the duck pond. Dr. Foye Gibson, by the way, was the E" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1689" data-max-h="1688"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference">Emory & Henry Made All the Difference</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Rachel Harrison (E&H ’19) gleaned the full Emory & Henry experience before graduating. <a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1349-got-a-minute-cassidy-york-sharp-04-has-a-new-title"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,66,2400,2466/8478_Cassidy-11.rev.1598295415.jpg" alt="Cassidy York Sharp, US Modern Woman Novice Supreme" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,66,2400,2466/8478_Cassidy-11.rev.1598295415.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,66,2400,2466/8478_Cassidy-11.rev.1598295415.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="2400"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1349-got-a-minute-cassidy-york-sharp-04-has-a-new-title">Got a minute? Cassidy York Sharp (’04) Has a New Title</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">She also has a crown and a sash -- and a couple of adoring fans. <a href="/live/news/1349-got-a-minute-cassidy-york-sharp-04-has-a-new-title" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1079-mark-arrington-honored-for-innovative-teaching"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,324,278/7177_arrington_2.rev.1574356083.jpg" alt="Mark Arrington, E&H Class of 2002." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="324" data-max-h="278"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1079-mark-arrington-honored-for-innovative-teaching">Mark Arrington Honored for Innovative Teaching</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Mark was honored by VAHPERD as their 2019 Teacher of the Year. <a href="/live/news/1079-mark-arrington-honored-for-innovative-teaching" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/162-eamphs-hidden-role-in-hidden-figures"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,95,232,327/855_Hidden.rev.1507735803.jpg" alt="The cover of Margot Lee Shetterly's book, Hidden Figures." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="232" data-max-h="232"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/162-eamphs-hidden-role-in-hidden-figures">E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">The book, “Hidden Figures,” has been made into a movie and everyone is loving the story. But you might not know about a couple of E&H figures who are in the story. <a href="/live/news/162-eamphs-hidden-role-in-hidden-figures" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/312-class-notes-updated-nov-2017"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,720,960/3380_gate.rev.1519759668.jpg" alt="E&H campus gates on a foggy morning." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,720,960/3380_gate.rev.1519759668.jpg 2x" data-max-w="720" data-max-h="960"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/312-class-notes-updated-nov-2017">Class Notes: Updated Nov. 2017</a></h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/726-eamph-alumnistudent-win-award-for-service"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/492,192,2432,2133/6074_DSC_5445_2.rev.1553176670.JPG" alt="Walker Long, Jake Caudill, Sam Caudill with their service award certificate from the USDA." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/492,192,2432,2133/6074_DSC_5445_2.rev.1553176670.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/492,192,2432,2133/6074_DSC_5445_2.rev.1553176670.JPG 3x" data-max-w="1940" data-max-h="1941"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/726-eamph-alumnistudent-win-award-for-service">E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Congrats to Jacob Caudill (Class of ’18), Walker Long (Class of ’18) and Sam Caudill (current E&H student). <a href="/live/news/726-eamph-alumnistudent-win-award-for-service" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/604,99,923,417/3305_Carolinas_Mixed_Quartet_Champions.rev.1518801465.jpg" alt="Carolinas Mixed Quartet Champions" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="319" data-max-h="318"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony">Perfect Harmony!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Warren Fuson’s (E&H ’73) quartet just won a big competition! Give a listen! <a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/866-dr-bob-buchanan-receives-award"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,11,280,291/6479_Dr._Bob_Buchanan.rev.1560787959.jpg" alt="Dr. Bob Buchanan, E&H Class of 1958, is retired from University of California, Berkeley." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="280" data-max-h="280"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/866-dr-bob-buchanan-receives-award">Dr. Bob Buchanan Receives Award</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Dr. Buchanan (E&H ’58) was among a small group of outstanding scientists honored by the American Society of Plant Biologists <a href="/live/news/866-dr-bob-buchanan-receives-award" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1126-class-notes-updated-january-2020"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/560,0,1280,720/7329_harold.rev.1578678696.png" alt="Harold Craw, E&H Class of 1999, General Manager for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/560,0,1280,720/7329_harold.rev.1578678696.png 2x" data-max-w="720" data-max-h="720"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1126-class-notes-updated-january-2020">Class Notes Updated January 2020</a></h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1353-eamph-football-is-on-the-air-in-2020"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/577,339,1851,1613/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg" alt="Oct. 19, 2019, Emory & Henry’s Max Yates catches a Hail, Mary pass to win the game against ..." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/577,339,1851,1613/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/577,339,1851,1613/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1274" data-max-h="1274"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1353-eamph-football-is-on-the-air-in-2020">E&H Football is On The Air in 2020!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">When the going gets tough, the tough get creative! And sports fans will be pleased to know that the E&H football program is getting creative: they have found a way for us to enjoy a little Wasp Football this fall. <a href="/live/news/1353-eamph-football-is-on-the-air-in-2020" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/67-the-little-pony-in-the-cemetery"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/728_19E35B9F-0C53-4243-A5C9-7BFA8720C009.rev.1506974918.JPG" alt="The little concrete pony found in the Emory Cemetery" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/728_19E35B9F-0C53-4243-A5C9-7BFA8720C009.rev.1506974918.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/728_19E35B9F-0C53-4243-A5C9-7BFA8720C009.rev.1506974918.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3200"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/67-the-little-pony-in-the-cemetery">The Little Pony in the Cemetery</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">A professor’s gift to his dying children shows the power of a promise. <a href="/live/news/67-the-little-pony-in-the-cemetery" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1375-eamph-athletics-open-house-added-to-stay"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,432,264/8538_2c_eh_shield.rev.1599761948.jpg" alt="" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="432" data-max-h="264"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1375-eamph-athletics-open-house-added-to-stay">E&H Athletics Open House Added to Stay HomeComing Events</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Here’s your chance to get back in “the know” with E&H athletics. <a href="/live/news/1375-eamph-athletics-open-house-added-to-stay" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1147-2020-eamph-distinguished-alumni-awards-announced"><img src="/live/image/gid/71/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/102,0,2233,2136/7839_Founders_Day_2019-52.rev.1583762496.jpg" alt="Founders Day" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/71/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/102,0,2233,2136/7839_Founders_Day_2019-52.rev.1583762496.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/71/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/102,0,2233,2136/7839_Founders_Day_2019-52.rev.1583762496.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2131" data-max-h="2136"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1147-2020-eamph-distinguished-alumni-awards-announced">2020 E&H Distinguished Alumni Awards Announced</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">In lieu of Founders Day being canceled, we are working to find a way to celebrate and honor our award winners in other ways at later date. <a href="/live/news/1147-2020-eamph-distinguished-alumni-awards-announced" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>