The Beauty of Music 13

Henry has advanced dementia. He sits all day, unresponsive, slumped over in his wheelchair in the nursing home. He does not even recognize his own daughter when she talks to him.

When they place the earphones on his head and play some of his favorite music from his iPod, something beautiful happens. His eyes grow wide with excitement. Henry comes alive!

More beautiful still is the that the livening effects of the music do not stop after the earphones are taken off. Before hearing the music, Henry could not answer simple yes or no questions; after hearing the music, that sparkle lingers in Henry’s eye. He wants to sing and dance, and talk about love.

The clip featuring Henry is part of a documentary about the Music and Memory Project. You can read more the about this project and the therapeutic benefits of personalized music by here.

13 comments

  1. Good to see this again. It is awesome, and as a musician I have seen the healing power of music and the inroads it takes to the heart through the back door when the front door is resistant and hard.

    • It is truly awesome, in the true sense of the word. I’m not sure how anyone can explain what it is about music that lifts the soul in such a way. In this case, the evidence is extraordinary, but we’ve all experienced it. Music brings joy to the heart.

    • It gives me a lot of hope too. As Henry said in the video, music is from God. It has to be. There is no other way to explain the way it can lift the spirit in this way and literally reunite this man’s soul to God. Thanks, SR!

    • The beautiful thing for me is to see how this man came back into his own and began to relate to himself and the world again in terms of love, beauty, and God on account of a simple technique. I’m amazed that this type of therapy is only now being implemented to this degree, since we’ve had music with us all along.

      • Yes, it has long been known. We have just become too reliant on drugs and science these past several decades, and have forgotten the heart and the need for beauty in our lives.

    • I was very touched by it too. It’s also very hopeful for families whose parents and grandparents are entering into those stages of life, that they can be happier, peaceful, joyful years.

  2. It’s not this dramatic in my case, but music does have significant influence on me, too, in remembering the past and in healing my pain, especially the emotional pains. He’s right.. music is a beautiful language. True gift from God! Thank you for posting this beautiful piece.

  3. When I was a nursing student, I did a clinical rotation on a veterans’ unit where all the patients were elderly and many of them had Alzheimers’/dementia. Every week, we had a 30 minute music program for the vets. It was interesting to see how responsive the Alzheimers’/Dementia patients were even when they were unresponsive or inappropriately responsive at other times. They responded to old hymns the best and many of them would cry when they listened to them. I think over the years we will learn more about the power of music on cognitively impaired people.

    • I think these therapeutic techniques can give families a lot of hope during their parents and grandparents’ final final years of life. It will help them enjoy their time together and give them consolation in seeing them happy and active in their last years.

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