by Neva Bodin
In our little country school, we often started our mornings with 15 minutes of music. Since I could “play by ear,” I occasionally was asked/allowed to play a song on the old pump organ. I was scarcely strong enough to push those feet pedals to keep air flowing through the bellows or whatever made the keys play.
How smart those early teachers were—without studies to prove they knew what they were doing. I believe that singing helped open our minds to the learning we would do for the day. Music touches the brain like no other stimulant.
According to neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, “Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience. Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring with it memory.” He adds, “Music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.” Music, the “Quickening Art” – Kant https://crownhillwriters.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/music-the-quickening-art-kant/ 8/11/2016
Now music is being recognized as bringing people who suffer dementia, depression and/or who seem to slip into a non-attentive, and perhaps, non-caring state, into an aware, memory-filled and “alive” state.
A program started by Dan Cohen, a social worker, called “Music and Memory” (http://musicandmemory.org/about/mission-and-vision/) helps non-profit organizations start a movement of loaning IPODs with music specific to the intended listener programmed onto them. They will then be used in long term care facilities, hospices or hospitals and other facilities that have people who may benefit, such as those with dementia, depression or mental illness. Watch: http://www.aliveinside.us/#trailer https://youtu.be/5FWn4JB2YLU
The hospice where I worked provides a respite service that is partnering with a church in my town to make this happen. IPODS with personalized music will be loaned to anyone who is identified as someone who might benefit from listening to their favorite music to increase their quality of life. This may include people in pain, those who receive dialysis, or those who need to “come alive inside” again. I attended a workshop about 30 years ago citing studies showing music piped directly into a patient’s ears could even reduce pain by as much as 50%.
When I taught my daughters how to spell their names, I made the spelling into a tune. They learned rapidly.
Music is theorized to stimulate multiple parts of the brain, accessing deep neurons, and stimulating the hippocampus, the center for long-term memories and spatial navigation. I know of stroke victims who can sing what they want to say, but not speak it. (The name, “hippocampus,” means sea horse and was so-named because of its shape.)
This knowledge can not only help the people we love, or maybe ourselves, but surely can be used for ideas in writing our novels and shaping the lives of our characters. Music—the universal language.