The Magic of Music

I had two grandmothers — back in the old days when that was the thing — and they were as different from each other as different can be.

My father’s mother was a petite pretty woman.  She had Alzheimer’s.   We only saw her a few times a year until they moved to Cooperstown.  Then, her Alzheimer’s was in full swing, and she said and did unpredictable things.  Most of my memories involve her holding a martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

And the brick.  My grandparents had a foam brick from Hollywood that looked like a real brick but was light and soft.  My grandfather, a fun-loving man, would pick it up and toss it at us.  We would scream in fear at the sight of a brick coming toward us, and I don’t think my grandmother liked screaming kids.  Or the uproarious laughter that would follow.  I think she liked a quiet house, something I now understand.

My mother’s mother always makes me think of apple pie and Baptist hymns.  She made the best apple pie.  Her house always smelled delicious.  When my grandfather passed away, she purchased a piano, and we would often find her playing the piano, usually hymns, when we went to see her.

My mother’s mother lived well into her nineties and remained pretty sharp.  I now wonder if it was the music.

It has been shown that doing crossword puzzles, playing bridge, and learning a language can help keep the mind sharp into the golden years.  Music can do the same, and more.

Musical memories can be tapped into long after other memories seem to have disappeared.

Oliver Sacks, world renowned neurologist, said,

The past which is not recoverable in any other way seems to be sort of ’embedded in amber’, if you will, in music. You can at least get some feel of it and regain it, for a little while, with familiar music.

Philip sent me a fascinating video a week or so ago, and then pestered me to watch it.  It shows a man in a nursing home, dull, sleepy, out of touch, sitting in a wheelchair.  When they put headphones on him and music in his ears, he is transformed.


Psalm 49:4 says,

…I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

I think the music itself is a riddle in its magic.

11 thoughts on “The Magic of Music

  1. I think someone sent me the same video. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet as we’ve been traveling, but I hope to do so today.

  2. Thanks for sharing this video, how moving and what a testament to the power of music! I only wish I had tried playing music for my Dad before he passed. He loved Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, and I have a recording of my dad singing to me when I was a baby.

  3. That’s incredible! That video makes me think of a glimmer of light. Goes to show how even when it appears that the person is “gone”, they are still there. Underneath the disease, they are still there.

  4. Pingback: Missing my chance to connect with Dad through music | The Memories Project

  5. Music reaches different areas of the brain then our cognitive or language abilities, the sort of things that Alzheimers, dementia, strokes, or just depression might influence. It’s amazing the effect it can have on a patient.

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