Sunday, November 06, 2011

Music therapy can be helpful to Alzheimer's patients

Today, in teaching a Sunday School class at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, a physician mentioned the value of music sometimes reported in improving the lives of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The University of Kansas  (from which I got an MA in Math in 1966) has a study showing that patients otherwise regressing maintaining social function during music therapy sessions. Here is the Sage Journal abstract link

Here’s another piece on music palliation from Bryn Mayr College in Pennsylvania, link

Indeed, relation to music seems to be hard-wired into human genes: it’s the brain’s most important example of aggregating experience over time and creating emotion or sensation at the moment.

Assisted living centers and nursing homes often bring in musical performers, and this can be an important source of income for musicians (try this Facebook group). The tone of musical entertainment at the Jefferson (Arlington VA) when my mother was in rehab after a stroke in 2009 was quite light and comical, however. 

Music does not have to be that well-written or developed to stimulate.  I’ve noticed that in church services people will sing the same hymns in many verses, repeatedly, without becoming bored by the repetition.  That’s why sometimes it could be used for immoral purposes, as during the Third Reich (and the conscience of composers like Furtwangler and Richard Strauss could make for another blog post).

It was noted that only about 75% of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a staple of performed choral music for a century,  is actually Mormon. 

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