Thursday, October 15, 2015

Music on My Mind

By: Dr. Linda Carson

When my father was progressing through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, I was a very emotional witness to the long goodbye. It was painful for my family to watch someone we’ve loved and known for so long retreat gradually to a place that included the destruction of memory, thinking, language, and behavior patterns.

But something intriguing was also happening at the same time. As my father’s memory loss and confusion progressed, eventually he was only able to recall childhood songs! Yes…songs! I actually had fun singing along during visits with him even though he did not know me. Eventually, that pleasant luxury faded too, but during that brief stage, we sang children’s songs and nursery rhymes over and over!

It made me wonder what is it about music that remains wired into our brains so deeply that it can be recalled even when all other memories have disintegrated. I’ve learned that there is amazing research being conducted by neurologists at the Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center to study music memory and ways to use it to improve the lives of those with profound memory loss. Watch this dramatic video to see the effects of “neural nostalgia” on Henry, an elderly man with dementia. You will be amazed!
I wish now that I would have sung childhood greeting songs to my Dad, or tried singing songs from his teenage years when he courted my Mother because the research is yielding information about how the emotions attached to our early music may play a profound role in awakening and accessing memory and emotion. So what’s next? Well, music therapy may be commonplace when we need nursing home care as we age. Plus music may be used for creating memories instead of focusing on recall. For instance, the allied health staff may sing directions to us about medications or various therapies!

To return to the present, when our young children hear, sing, and dance to music, they are literally building neural connections by using a variety of areas in their brains. The childhood songs that they listen to repetitiously and that bring such great joy can literally be a quality of life enhancer once again decades later! What a concept!
With that in mind (get it?), I’d like to encourage you to play lively, fun-filled music in your homes, cars, and classrooms and enjoy it to the fullest in the present, knowing that at the same time, you’re building a store house of pleasant, loving memories for use on the other side of the pendulum swing of life.

A perfect music CD for this playful assignment has just been released by Choosy Kids called My Wiggle Makes Me Giggle. This CD has fast paced and upbeat songs that get everyone dancing and laughing together. Children can learn movements from listening to the words in the songs and just like Henry in the video above, may remember the motions for years to come!

I’d like to share with you a free download of the title track from My Wiggle Makes Me Giggle so that you can enjoy this music with your family. I hope that music of all kinds enables you to build lasting and fond memories.

What has been your personal or professional experience with this music phenomenon?

About the Author: Linda Carson, Ed. D, is the founder and CEO of Choosy Kids, LLC, and the Ware Distinguished Professor Emerita at West Virginia University. An award winning, nationally recognized expert, Dr. Carson has devoted her career to promoting healthy preferences for young children and the adults who make decisions on their behalf. Click here to learn more about Linda.

34 comments :

  1. wow I had no idea music could affect us all in that way. I'm really sorry to hear about your dad, but it's nice that you got that time with him to sing songs. Music has a beautiful way of bringing us together. great post xx

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    1. I am glad you learned the power of music. Please support our music at Choosy Kids and keep the message going!

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  2. I'm so sorry about your father. That's so interesting about the music. I always used music when teaching kindergarten & I try to sing as much as I can with my kids (even though my voice is terrible.)

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    1. Great job using music in your classroom. What were some of your choice songs to use?

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  3. I know that music can be very powerful for learning and for memory. For me, music recalls memories faster than anything else. It always transports me to a particular time of place.

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    1. Isn't it fascinating how you feel when you hear that certain song? Follow us @choosykids to hear some new songs!

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  4. I'm sorry to hear about your father. This is a beautiful post. My daughter and I listen to music together everyday, she was born an artist. I am so happy I can share music with her!

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    1. Thank you and good job, mama! Music is such a gift that keeps giving.

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  5. I'm so sorry about your father. I have a friend that is going thru this right now with her mother. I will have to recommend music. That is such amazing research. I know that a song can transport me back to a certain time, so I'm not surprised it can work. Thank you for the free download.

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    1. Please do share my post and the BU video with your friend. My heart is with her but hopefully she is able to see some joy with music and her loved one.

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  6. Hi Linda, I am so sorry to hear about your dad. I got to know about this music therapy through your post. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you. Please check out www.choosykids.com for other ways music can help everyone!

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  7. My sympathies to you. Music can be very powerful and very therapeutic! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for your support. I hope you check out our free download and share it out!

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  8. There is a beautiful video of a Jewish woman singing with a Christian woman " Yes Jesus loves me." Very touching!!

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  9. I have seen that clip before and it is absolutely amazing. It seems to me that there is a lot more research to be done in this area. I don't tend to listen to music a lot--I prefer silence when I can get it--but I do sing all the time and have always sung to my children.

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    1. Sometimes silence is golden but yes, there is still a lot of research to be done!

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  10. Music therapy is wonderful. Thank you for the Free download.

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    1. You are welcome! I really hope you enjoy it. Please provide us with your feedback!

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  11. Totally agree how music plays a huge part in development. My kids are all different types of learners, but all seem to thrive better when learning through song. And one of my kids also underwent music therapy for his auditory processing disorder. We've definitely seen an improvement after the therapy.

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    1. Amazing! I am so happy that music helps your children so much!

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  12. Hi Christine,

    I'm so sorry about your dad, sounds like you have wonderful memories. I think music therapy is wonderful for kids. My daughter used to put her headphones on her belly when she was pregnant with my grandsons. Not sure if it has anything to do with that but the boys love music and are learning to play instruments now.

    I love listening to music while I unwind from a long day. It such a stress reliever for me.

    Great post Christine and thanks for the free download! Have a great weekend!

    Cori

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    1. Hi Cori! There's a lot of research behind babies in the womb listening to music too! It is all good, very good. Thanks for downloading the song. Let us know what you think of it, please :)

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  13. To me, music is life. Music is love. I have a song for every emotion I have ever felt. The connection I have to music is borderline creepy. Listening to music is how I get away. My husband having a similar relationship to music is what made me fall in love with him, among many other things. And if I'm honest with you, I hope our children are the same.

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    1. I am very happy to hear that you have such a special connection to music. It is a wonderful thing in so many ways and effects people in various forms. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Hi Linda,
    What great memories you have with your dad :) Thanks for sharing!!
    Music is definately awesome theraphy.......I HAVE to listen to music to help me destress :) It helps

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    1. So glad that you found what it takes to help you destress. It is amazing the power of a song!

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  15. Music is so therapeutic. Thank you for sharing your story and your song.

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    1. You're welcome and thanks for the comments!

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  16. I have always believed music has powers, so it's important to be mindful of what we listen to. It's amazing how although people forget some things we consider important, they would remember songs.

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  17. Sorry about your dad, music is so very powerful, if your sad sing,if your mad, sing etc etc.

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  18. I totally agree with you!!! Music is so important for brain development! Great post!

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  19. So sorry to hear about your dad. Music really IS a great tool for therapy and even just for relaxation. It also helps me remember some experiences. :)

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