“The magic of music warms the heart and soothes the soul”
Today’s Musical Monday is a bit different from the norm. However, the message is still the same. Instead of focusing on the wonderful benefits of music for our younger ones, we turn to the other end of the spectrum and celebrate the magic of music for the more seasoned adults in our lives.
I was so fortunate to grow up in a musical family. I began singing on commercials when I was three, started piano lessons when I was four, and in my teen years picked up the guitar. My parents were always supportive of my passion for music and shared the joy of making music together. But my appreciation for music ran deeper than the beautiful sounds and tones emitted. From an early age, I was exposed to the true magic of music and it’s ability to impact people’s lives.
I first witnessed the magic of music during a visit to see my Uncle Ted. Uncle Ted had Alzheimer’s Disease and his condition made it difficult for my Aunt Ruth to care for him at home so he was moved into a skilled nursing facility where his needs could be properly met. One day my family and I went to see him to help celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary. We met in the dining hall, which had been decorated with streamers, banners and balloons. Uncle Ted was all dressed up in a tuxedo t-shirt and his best pair of pants. But as handsome as he looked, Uncle Ted wasn’t the same person I had remembered him to be. He was seemingly lifeless and could barely talk. He wouldn’t make eye contact and wasn’t at all interested in the festivities that were going on around him.
After some yummy cake and refreshments, my dad sat down at the piano to play Uncle Ted and Aunt Ruth’s special song, “Moonlight Serenade“. This song was significant to them because it was the tune that won him Aunt Ruth’s heart when he came home from World War II. As the music began to play Uncle Ted became overwhelmed with emotional. He was crying tears of joy. He got up and began to dance with Aunt Ruth as he hummed along with the melody. It was as if someone went over and turned on a light switch inside Uncle Ted. The magic of music had brought him back to life, even if it was just for a short while.
Once the party was over and things were cleaned up, we walked Uncle Ted back to his room to say goodbye. The excitement of the party and the music had worn off by now and he reverted back to a quite, expressionless and disconnected man.
On the ride home from our visit with Uncle Ted, my dad was reminded of when we used to visit his mom, whom we called Nanny, in her nursing home. My nanny was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and lived in a private home with six other women and a staff to attend to her needs. Upon arrival my Nanny would normally be sitting in a chair in the living room with her chin rested on her chest. We would greet her but she would never even acknowledge that we were there. But then my dad would begin to sing the hymns that he grew up singing with her at church, and like magic she would come alive. She would chime in, singing each and every lyric in perfect harmony (she was a soprano). And then, as quickly as she perked up, when the song was over, she would shut down and put her chin back on her chest and drift away.
A few days ago, I came across this video on YouTube. It was the inspiration for my post. It is a visual example of the stories that I have just shared with you. This video makes me happy, it beings me joy and it gives me hope.
I believe music is a universal language. One that has the ability to cross all barriers, including obstacles that seem impenetrable. It can evoke emotion, resurrect memory and construct passageways that allow for loving reunion. I am extremely grateful for the gift of music and its magical effects on all of us.