Some may know that, many years ago, I worked as an activity assistant at a home that specialized in dementia care. My job was to do what I could to keep the residents there engaged, which would maintain some brain function, keep their spirits up and their agitation levels down, as well as to keep them out of trouble. When I was hired, my musical background was considered a great asset because music really seems to have a positive effect on those with dementia. I ended up sharing music with them on a regular basis. After a typical sing-along of old songs, it was typical for those who couldn’t talk to be able to answer questions with comprehensible sentences, and they were not bothered by the disruptive cloud of not remembering. In fact, they were happy.
Because of this background, I was grateful to have been in my car to hear a radio spot featuring the work that is being done across the US on this subject, both by the efforts of music therapists, as well as simple programs, like “iPod therapy.” I know that I had already put a link to the viral video of Henry, who came to life listening to his music on an iPod, but after listening to this radio program, I thought it would be great to revisit and expand on this.
In the interview, Brenna Beecroft described the work music therapists do, and the prescriptions of music suggested to patients. Ultimately, she posited, such prescriptions may be covered by health insurance for a wide range of cases, beyond dementia into extreme chronic pain or trauma.
I support music therapy wholeheartedly. Additionally, I question why we are waiting for humans to get critically ill before making music a priority. If music can be this helpful for improving mood and brain function as well as language facility, why aren’t we all listening more, attending more concerts, or, better yet, participating in making music through a choir, band, or chamber ensemble?
It is my wish as well as my working goal to make more music in 2014 and to help many others do the same.
In the meantime, if you would like to help others with music somehow, may I suggest
or look for helping out local music ensembles and organizations with whatever would be the most appropriate for their needs or situations.
I wish you the best in this season and I wish for more music for all in 2014.