Music has a way of soothing your soul and emotions. When I was in high school and college, music was a place where I could hang my feelings when I had a secret crush or my heart was broken. Listening to the oldie goldies from the past ignites those memories. It’s almost as if they had happened yesterday.
I was quiet and shy in high school… too shy to be taken seriously by any boy my age. I was a little overweight and my face was ravaged by hormones with acne. So, in that period of my life, I either had a secret crush on someone or a broken heart because no boy was going to show an interest in me at that time. I was in an all-girls boarding school where we weren’t around a lot boys anyway. But then, there were the dances with the all-boy schools… and the concerts.
One Sunday, a very popular band from one of the boys’ schools came by to present a concert to us girls. They sang “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man” and one of the cutest guys in the group looked over and beamed a smile at me. We were connected, just for that pregnant moment. My heart fluttered and my face flushed. This young man had made my day. But, of course, I was much too shy to go up to him after the concert. I went back to my dorm room, just like everyone else. I dreamed about him for about a year.
We never met, but that experience on that day carried me; it touched me enough to remember to write about it. It did this because it was bound up into the music and emotion of “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man.” Every time I hear that song, I feel myself seated in that auditorium and re-experiencing the thrill of having that young man smile at me. He is etched into my brain’s memory bank, even though we had never met.
Professor John Sloboda of Keele University claims that music is much more powerful than
smell and many other senses because it triggers sequences of re-lived experiences, just like my experience with “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man.” For this reason, music is becoming an
effective tool for working with seniors. Many of them may not be able to remember words, but they can remember a song. They become energetic and effervescent, enveloped by the memories of the past.
Neuroscientists are beginning to learn about the power of music and how it stimulates parts of the brain. They believe that it has the potential for improving speech and movement. In an AARP Bulletin magazine article written by Sally Abrahms, titled, ”The Power of Music,” (March 2013, vol 54, no 2, page 10), Ms. Abrahms discusses how the power of music has helped former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, after she suffered brain damage from a gunshot wound in her head. When Ms. Giffords was unable to speak, her parents played some of her childhood favorites, such as “American Pie,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “Over the Rainbow.” Not only that, her therapists helped her to regain much of her speech by teaching her to sing words in phrases. There is so much potential for the ability of music to help people who are suffering from brain damage and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
If you have a family member who is suffering from any of these problems, or is just having
difficulty remembering words, investigate what songs they loved in their teens and 20s and play or sing them. Cajole the person into singing conversations between the two of you. Just don’t let anyone record them, that is, if you’re like me and sing WAY off-tune.
Please write to me and share some of your experiences that music has brought back to life. To reminisce “Hey Mr. Tambourine man,” try this version: