when life is good

A Personal Blog

Thank You For The Music

I love music. When I listen to my favorite artists, I feel better. Sometimes, after listening to Bobby McFerrin, I smile and hum for hours. Music is a fine thing.

Until a few days ago, the term Music Therapy was unknown to me. While reading a bit about the topic, I discovered  that music has been used as a healing process for centuries. I stumbled across a video about the usefulness of Music Therapy for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. The original show was aired on NPR last April. The piece introduced a man named Henry, who sat or slouched in his wheelchair, his hands and head resting on the laptop table. He appeared to be sleeping. He was not sleeping. He was not engaged. He had been in the home for about ten years. His daughter entered the room, spoke to him, but Henry did not know her. I felt my eyes fill with tears and my nose started to burn. It did not seem fair that Henry was not aware of his daughter.

But, wait, this is the moment the scene changed for the better. Dan Cohen, a social worker, programmed an iPod for Henry after consulting with the caretaker about Henry’s likes and favorite songs. The lady on the floor announced to Henry that she had his music. Was he ready to listen? “OK,” mumbled Henry. Henry was still a bit listless. But, as soon as the headphones were placed on his head, and the Music was turned on,  Henry reacted as if he had been stung by a bee. He sat up, started to sing along with the music, and moved  his hands in time to beat. It was as if Henry became alive. He woke up! The transformation is remarkable.

Now I am not a doctor or an expert on the subject of Music Therapy. But what I do know is what I saw and heard during that clip about Henry. My heart soared with Henry as he remembered things from his past. His eyes lit up like a neon sign and I felt such joy for Henry. Little did I know that the music would have such an awakening effect. This post is not meant as a review or summary of the show. I simply felt the urge to share with others what I experienced while watching an elderly man wake up from his despondent state. Henry was so thankful for the music. Shouldn’t we pay it forward to others?

If you want to watch the entire program, here is the link: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/18/150891711/for-elders-with-dementia-music-sparks-great-awakenings

Do you have an old unused iPod that you could donate to an elderly person? Contact a nursing home in your area or check in the local phone book for Music Therapy.

If music helped Henry to feel alive, music may help someone else feel alive. Thank you for the music.