Music is MAGIC. I’ve always believed that. And I’ve always wondered why God would have me believe it so, without giving me an ounce of musical talent. I cannot carry a tune. I never really learned to play an instrument (although I did work all summer picking berries and beans in order to buy myself a piano when I was a young teenager…but I never really learned to play it). When I interview people to work at Gentog, I always ask if they have musical talents. I don’t always get lucky…and you can be a terrific caregiver without musical ability. But, believe me, you have a special edge in childcare or senior care, when you can sing or play music.
Music is one of the first languages we learn as infants. You know that you always use a sing-songy voice when you talk to an infant. You always hum or sing softly when soothing a baby or when rocking them to sleep. Music is a love language for infants.
Music is a great way to learn. One of the first songs you learned was the ABC song…and you’ve known your alphabet (and began learning your language) ever since. We teach words for body parts with music. You know “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. You’ve danced to the “Hokey Pokey” while learning your right from left. You learned about how much Jesus loved you with a simple song. Music is a learning language for children.
Do you have a special song (or several) that take you back to when you first fell in love? As a child of the 70’s, I have to admit that mine is “Brick House”! Who could resist Lionel Richie and the Commodores? Am I right? There is another song that reminds me of my college roommate and her boyfriend (and now husband of 38 years). “Eres Tu” takes me back to Mexico and the great time with friends when I was 16. “We are One in the Spirit” takes me back to Lutheran Youth Group. “We are the World” reminds me of a visit with dear friends when our children were first born. “Wheels on the Bus” reminds me of singing with my infant son. “Picture” reminds me of singing and laughing with my Grandma Helen. “Humble and Kind” and “Supermarket Flowers” bring tears to my eyes as I remember my mom’s last months. So many songs bring a smile to my lips (or tears to my eyes) when I hear them. What is the soundtrack of your life?
That magic that makes me smile works for people with dementia. Listening to music can trigger memories, feelings and emotions that aren’t expressed at any other time. There are many studies that show the power of music for people with dementia. People that have virtually lost their ability to communicate will sing along with hymns and familiar songs from their youth. It’s a powerful thing to witness.
We bring music to Gentog as often as we can. There is some form of music daily. Special musical performances and sing-alongs happen at least 5 or 6 times per month. We have drums and other musical instruments so we can all make music together. Two very kind people have donated pianos to our center so that we can have lovely music often.
Music is magic. To see how we make that magic happen regularly at Gentog, check out this video.