Friday, April 6, 2012

Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory

Alive Inside Trailer from Michael Rossato-Bennett on Vimeo.
A new documentary on the effects of music on Alzheimer's patients is showing this month at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Screening dates are Wednesday, April 18th through Saturday, April 21st. More information about the project can be found on the Rubin Museum website.
If you're reading this blog, you're probably a musician. A music educator. Perhaps you're a music therapist. And you've probably seen or experienced a few of the things from this video: Seemingly unresponsive people who light up when they hear music. 

In the early 2000s, as scientists started capturing images of the musical effect on the mind, there was a surge of research and reports on what was eventually coined the "Mozart Effect."

But it's not just Mozart that can affect the mind. It's Cab Calloway. Doris Day. Ray Henderson. The California Ramblers. 

Recently I was asked to play a friend's party. I needed a set list full of those tunes.

It was a friend's "going away" party. She was a resident in a local nursing home here in Greensboro, NC. Her doctors recently told her that her cancer diagnosis was terminal. But at 90-some years old, she wasn't about to go out quietly. 

She threw a going away party.

Over 100 people, friends, a few daughters and grand-daughters gathered around her. I stood in the corner, playing a few songs that might lift some of the heaviness in the room. "Que Sera, Sera," was a  natural pick.

But the Rabbi stole the show. 

When the family's Rabbi asked to borrow my guitar he stood in the center of the room and banged out one of the most rousing versions of "5 Foot 2, Eyes of Blue," I've ever heard. And soon people were clapping, singing, dancing. For 3 minutes. We forgot why we there.

As musicians, we know the power of music. The challenge is to find the right song. And the other challenge is to give people and families and children lots of ways to experience that music. 

Live music. This is what we do every day in Kindermusik classes: give people something to sing about, from their first day, to their last.

- Molly McGinn
Kindermusik Educator
song | writer

No comments: