Performer Kristine Agen Makes the Audience the Star of the Show

Kristine Agen is wrapping up her 24th year as an AUI performer in area senior living facilities, and
she couldn’t be happier. “I was the youngest artist they ever hired,” she said. “I had just moved
to Fort Wayne and was working as a music therapist. I ran into an AUI board member who
thought I might be a good fit.”

They were right! And while Agen says she flew her first gig in half an hour, she has learned how
to engage with her audiences in many ways over the years. “These people are in a place that’s
not their home,” she said. “Music is powerful and magical. It puts them in their element again.”

Through songs such as The Breeze and I, That’s Amore, and The Girl from Ipanema, Agen is
reaching seniors in powerful ways. “Family members tend to visit when AUI is on the scene,”
she said, “so the performance is multi-generational.” She recalls seeing a woman crying in the
audience. “Hearing my mom singing and recalling the movies and actresses of her youth was

Agen makes a point of giving everyone a copy of the song lyrics so they can sing along. “As a
music therapist,” she said, “I’m there to meet their needs, not just perform.” To that end, she is
always cognizant of person who is still in the room but not giving feedback. “Music is a mood
changer in their day.”

Agen also makes a point of adding improv into the mix. “You’re going to need some water,” she
tells them. “I love to get them singing and moving, stretching their arms and legs. In that sense,
they are the show.” Agen even hands out instruments and tells people to play along.

For Agen, performing with AUI has always been a family affair, which has opened up
possibilities for her children as well. “My daughter, Addison Agen, was a runner-up on The

It doesn’t even matter which song Agen sings, as long as the song touches a moment that was
meaningful to her audience. According to Agen, “music is stored in two areas of the brain. The
melody is stored next to the memory center that stores images. In that sense, the memory
continues after the song. I don’t have my own favorite,” she said. “I want to do whatever makes
people happy.”

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