Music on the Brain

Get the Kleenex ready… I started crying quite a few times as I watched this video of the ‘Music and Memory’ project in Australia. 

Every morning when my mother was alive, I would come downstairs and put the radio on for her.  In addition to listening to the classical station, W-QXR, we would watch VCR’s of musicals including, “My Fair Lady,” “Gigi,” “Carousel,” “The Sound of Music,” “Camelot,” and many others.  Mama loved, “Fantasia,” and Disney was a genius in making that movie – it’s NOT just for kids!

Certain songs would elicit a reverential response from Mom – songs such as Elgar’s “Land of Hope and Glory,” or the hymn from Holst’s Jupiter: “I vow to thee my country,” or “Jerusalem.” All these must have been a part of her younger school days.

How lucky are we that YouTube has multiple versions of just about any music or artist or the-piano-guysshow you might want to hear! In addition to all the Classical Greats, we enjoyed the Beatles, Benny Goodman and The Big Bands, Frank Sinatra, Ludivico Einaudi, collections from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and videos of The Piano Guys. We devoured opera (even Phillipe Jaroussky, the contre tenor), the chants of Benedictine monks, and the a capella songs of Pentatonix.  We even experimented with the healing sounds of Steven Halpern, Celtic and Welsh music and Tibetan Singing Bowls. (I’m listing all these so I won’t forget.)

How great to be able to put a little laptop computer right in front of her so her failing eyesight and hearing were not an obstacle to her enjoyment!

She would snap her fingers, and hum along. She’d tap her feet, and we’d glide across the floor to wherever we had to move to. I would sing, certainly off-key when the notes were too high, but it was fun none-the-less.  She did tell me often that she “loved to hear me sing,” so it couldn’t have been so bad. Only rarely did we have absolute quiet in the house, except when sleeping.  It was the way I was raised, too.  Music elicits great emotion and fond memories for me, as it did obviously for her.

Scientists have been finding that music awakens the minds of people with memory disorders.  Whereas in the US, there have been issues with ‘gifting’ iPod players to folks in nursing homes, Australia has no such problem.

Watch as dopamine floods the minds of these seniors and I dare you to keep a dry eye as you see them dance and sing and become more like the people they once were.  HOW can we NOT employ this sort of therapy when the results are so overwhelmingly positive?


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