“Music is part of being human.”
― Oliver W. Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
What is your first memory of music? Last week, I was sitting in a session with one of our Woodlands residents, and I asked her this question. She relayed to me a story of when she was about three years old. It was Christmas Eve, and her father, who was quite poor, had bought a record to play on the record player. He sat her on his lap as they listened to this record. It was the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. This piece of music came back into her life after she was married. Her husband helped produce a well-known TV show that featured this piece. Another resident told me when she was young, she would sit outside the bathroom listening to her father singing in the shower. “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” was his song of choice. We begin our sessions singing this song, and every time, I watch her face brighten as we sing.
Music is a part of the human experience. We use music to learn our ABC’s, to celebrate birthdays, to process during weddings and graduations, to get our children to sleep, among other things. It can make us smile, make us cry, reminisce, experience nostalgia, and allows us to experience the beauty of life in a different way. Music therapy gives residents the opportunity to access these musical memories. We have the privilege to sit, listen, ask questions, sing, reminisce, and for us to get a glimpse into how music was integrated in their lives.