This is a very personal story. My Mother had a stroke in August 2010, on Friday the 13th, and a week exactly after what would have been my Dad’s 80th birthday. Yes, life is strange.
My Mother has always lived for music. As soon as she’d wake up she’d put the radio on, and most days it’d remain on until the early evening. After not hearing music for several months, apart from faint sounds on the radio in her nursing home, I sang John & Yoko’s Happy Xmas (War is Over) to her at Christmas – one of her favorite Christmas songs. There seemed a spark, so I decided to take things a step further. My Mother’s social worker had also made me aware of the power of music therapy. At the nursing home, music therapy became more like music magic after I switched my Mum’s radio on. When hearing Mr. Tambourine Man by the Byrds, my Mother seemed spellbound.
As the music poured out of the little magic box, my Mum began singing along to Roy Orbison’sI Drove All Night, and then began singing another Roy Orbison song, with no radio prompt – It’s Over. Sometimes in conversation my Mum doesn’t understand all that it said to her, but music is not only a universal language it’s food for the soul. So my Mum began singing along to Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day, the Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and Glen Campbell’s Galveston. The change music induced in my Mother was akin to a light bulb being switched on in her mind.
Sometimes I will ask my Mother a question and it won’t quite connect. On a later visit, my Mother commented on Petula Clark, after hearing a few seconds of Don’t Sleep in the Subway. I didn’t say who it was, but my Mum knew, and said: “I saw her when I was 15 and she was 14.” Which indeed she had. Then I’ll mention mutual friends and it’ll take a few minutes until the penny drops. She loved the Zager & Evans song In the Year 2525, but called it 3535. She enjoyed The Lion Sleeps Tonight and became indignant after I told her that it was the Bee Gees singing I’veGotta Get a Message to You, grumbling: “I do know who it is.” She repeated what she always said about the Beatles Eleanor Rigby: “Young chaps to think of that.”
The Power of Music Is Timeless
A powerful influence on human beings, music sometimes works on a subconscious level, and we can even find ourselves tapping our feet to songs we don’t like consciously!
Music therapy can help children with disabilities, and it can have a positive effect on people regardless of age. Music has also been used to provoke a reaction from people in comas. Music has an emotional connection with us, not just per se, but because of the memories it sometimes conjures up. This can be a popular song which a couple enjoyed when they were young, or a song which was played at a loved one’s funeral.
It’s not a miracle cure, but music is one of the simple things which can be beneficial to someone’s health, by lifting the spirit. Fresh air can have a startling and positive effect on physical health, and music can do likewise for mental health and, ultimately, physical health as well.
My Own Music Therapy
For me, personally, music works as therapy all the time. Since my Dad died in 2001, the bad stuff has been relentless, with the loss of many people and pets who I loved. Some days I crumble, some days I just get angry with the pitiless bureaucracy I have to deal with. The music I put on will reflect my own mood and I’ll soak it up like a sponge. When I lose my love for music, then I’ll know I’m in trouble!
Music therapy – a therapeutic intervention for children with disabilities
Music Therapy for Stroke