A neighbor of Mom's, I'll call him Jim, is often asked to play the piano for sing-along, if no one else has been scheduled that day. He's been around for a few years. Jim must have dementia, because he too lives in Mom's neighborhood.
From Jim's piano style, you know he was once an excellent pianist. Any song requested comes immediately to his fingers. Some ragtime, ballads, show tunes, hymns; he has played it all and his inner pianist remembers. Beautiful technique, full chords and melody, introductions and lots of feeling. Did he once play with the symphony? Was he a music professor at a university? Did he play with a big band? That is the past. Now Jim is loosing his battle with dementia.
Now Jim is only asked to play at the end of a sing along session. The activities staff know the songs, the ones he likes to play best, and the ones we all know by heart too.
"Hey Jim", the activities leader will suggest, "how about playing Yankee Doodle."
So we're singing along "...stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni, glory, glory hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on..."
Jim is redirected by the activities leader "Jim, would you please play Amazing Grace?"
So we're singing "... I once was blind but now I see, his truth is marching on. Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!..."
Jim's inner record skips and his memory tracks jumps and we're once again singing a rousing refrain of "Glory, glory, hallelujah!" He is stuck on this one song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". As long as you let him play he will continue to play the refrain, over and over and over.
"Let's all sing Goodnight Irene."
"... good night Irene, good night Irene, I'll see you in my dreams, glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on. Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory..."