Music cannot be avoided and we cannot disclaim that music has an impact on human’s behavior, mood and attitudes. Music can affect us in ways in which people are not even aware of, and for this reason, music is simply amazing. I am an avid music listener. Music relaxes and reminds me of specific events and times of my life. For example: The soft notes of a violin reminds me of being a young girl back home in Ireland sitting cross legged on my grandfathers couch playing cards and him letting me win. Music for me isn’t just the sound of a song or musical instrument it is lapping of waves on the beach, the rustle of leaves in a breeze on a quite afternoon or sound of the excited cheer from a fans at a Rugby or gealic football game. As you can see music plays a major role in my personal life but it also has a major impact in my working life.
Music can be a positive force for mental health, calming, relaxing, intellectually stimulating. This is true for adults, teens and children. Music can and does affect our emotions, it can create “channels” in our mind, patterns of thinking. It can impart ideas and ideologies, powerfully and emotionally conveying a way of life and/or an event that conditions, such as Dementia or Alzheimers, cause you to forget.
The power of music, especially singing, can be used to unlock memories and kickstart the grey matter is a key feature of dementia care. It seems to reach parts of the damaged brain in ways other forms of communication cannot. Professor Paul Robertson, an academic specialising in music in dementia care and concert violinist reported “We tend to remain contactable as musical beings on some level right up to the very end of life”. ‘We know that the auditory system of the brain is the first to fully function at 16 weeks, which means that you are musically receptive long before anything else. So it’s a case of first in, last out when it comes to a dementia-type breakdown of memory.’
As an Occupational Therapist we look at many ways to engage people with Dementia in day to day activities and assist them to BE. What better way to do this by using the power of music to engage them in activities they enjoy. One of the best examples of how the power if music benefits people with Dementia was seen in a video of an elderly gentleman hunched over in his chair looking depressed, as if the world were a million miles away. The positive change in his facial expression and body language was evident once he was given an i pod with his favorite music playing. Words cannot describe appropriately the power of this reaction so I have attached the link to the video for you all to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ
Although many of us see music as something to do to pass the time or block out the world in some cases, it equally can bring a person back to life. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds. Music opens up our hearts and souls to ourselves and to others.
Music is not a luxury. Music is a basic need of human survival.