Tag Archives: music therapy

The Power of Music on People With Dementia

I heard a wonderful piece on NPR yesterday titled “For Elders With Dementia, Musical Awakenings”. It highlights the story of an elderly man named Henry who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimers who is typically unresponsive, yet comes to life when music from his youth is played to him. (You can read more at NPR’s site here and be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post.

The more I learn about the brain (a hobby of mine) the more fascinated I get about the power of music on brain function and cognition. The process of listening and remembering music engages many different regions of the brain in a complex way and imprints or hardwires these relationships. Although it is possible for people to appreciate new types of music throughout their lifetimes, most musical tastes are fashioned during the teenage years.

For those with dementia, it is no wonder that hearing music that was enjoyed in a formative age would reactivate these hardwired relationships in the brain which then in turn would reengage cognitive functions in these areas.

My parents are 88 and 86 and we are noticing early stages of dementia–you know, those “senior moments” when a parent loses track of which child they are talking about during a conversation. The NPR piece makes me wonder what effect a playlist of my parent’s favorite music would have on them during these earlier stages of random forgetfulness.

I have a few ideas of what kinds of music they loved when they were young–Glenn Miller comes to mind. But, I realize that the time to find out what would be in their favorite playlist is now.

How about you? Do you know what your parent’s favorite songs were when they were young? Perhaps now is the time to find out. I would love to hear your stories.



Filed under Health

A Little Market Research

Hey all, thanks SO much for helping out. I am conducting some market research for my music. Given that my music is generally soothing and therapeutic, there are a range of different styles that I perform that fit the overall relaxation category. I am curious about what styles people like best. This sort of market research will be helpful to me as I plan projects for 2013. (I already have 2012 figured out.)

So, taking a few moments to take this one-question survey would be greatly appreciated. And feel free to leave comments as well.

My two instrumental titles are referred to in the above survey. In case you haven’t heard them, here are YouTube videos that play samplers from these two CDs:

Passage (2011) Draw Me Close (2001)


Filed under Music Career


I tend to be quite a pensive fellow. (I got cured of that for awhile–I guess you could say I was expensive during that period.) Sorry, couldn’t resist that knee-slapper right there. You may ask, “Kelly, what does ‘pensive’ mean?” I have used this word for years, but I thought I’d look it up just in case I have been misusing it. Mr. Webster says it means “1. musingly or dreamily thoughtful, or 2. suggestive of sad thoughtfulness”. I can see those definitions applying, but perhaps it is more accurate to say that I am anxious.

Anyway, to the point–and I have one–as I am determined to spend only 15 minutes on this blog post…

I was in the car the other day in a pensive (or anxious) mood and I realized that some calming music would do me some good. Whilst scrolling through my lists of artists in my iPod, I happened upon a group that is probably my favorite group of the ’90s, a group called Iona. In particular, their record entitled “Journey to the Morn” I usually find quite soothing.

During stressful moments, there is something about certain music that is soothing, like standing under a shower, or a waterfall of warm water (is that what they are like in Hawaii?). Listening to Iona the other day was like that. I felt a respite from my anxious musings.

Iona is not, as you may think, a New Age group. Rather they are an interesting melange of Celtic, Rock, Atmospheric, even Jazz. They were fronted vocally by an Irish singer named Joanna Hogg who has a very calming voice, not unlike Maire Brennan of Clannad–in fact, they did a record together in later years. You should definitely check them out.

I aim for the same or similar effect with my piano instrumental music: soothing, calm, therapeutic. I recently asked fans on my Facebook artist page what type of record I should put out this year if I were to only do one record. They responded that they would love another instrumental. So, I will definitely be doing that this year, mark my words. Nag me if you don’t hear anything about it over the coming months.


Filed under Life, Work