Thursday, April 23, 2009

Music memory

From the New York Times column "The New Old Age":

Familiar songs can help people with dementia relate to others, move more easily and experience joy. . . .

Music memory is preserved better than verbal memory, according to [music therapist Alicia] Clair, because music, unlike language, is not seated in a specific area of the brain but processed across many parts. "You can’t rub out music unless the brain is completely gone."
Elaine and I (and sometimes our children) play music several times a year at a local nursing home, and we are always struck by the attentiveness with which our listeners — most of whom would appear to be out of it — respond. We love playing standards, and those are well received, but the songs that go over best are older and simpler: "Home on the Range," "The Sidewalks of New York." Christmas music too, both sacred and secular, taps deep emotion. When all else is gone, it seems, there's music.

comments: 4

T. said...

I've already told my husband that if I lose my mind in the future, he must please set me up with my favorite Christmas music in the background to keep me connected by a thread...

Michael Leddy said...

I'll take the Goldberg Variations.

TRH said...

See Oliver Sacks' wonderful book, Musicophilia, for more on the connections between music and memory.

'Sing, O Muse....'

Michael Leddy said...

We have that book, though I've never read it — I'll have to look.

Thanks, Timothy.