Unforgettable Music

Submitted by Tribute2010 on February 27, 2013 - 4:30pm
What's special about 20th century music?

In the nursing home milieu, it is widely accepted that music offers a relaxation and therapeutic approach in the management of worry and distress. I am not a music therapist, but my input on this subject comes from my own experiences playing music in retirement homes, over the last twelve years.   

 I've seen a lot of older adults living in nursing homes who are highly distressed and anxious.  One woman, who was brought to my music session, appeared terrified.  I knew nothing about her as she must have been a new resident.  Above all of this, I needed to realize that her reality was not mine.  The staff must have thought my presentation would help her.  If true, I was at a loss to know how to help.  

In playing music for seniors over the last twelve years, I have been concentrating on popular songs of the 30's and 40's. These are the songs seniors listened to on the radio, at the theatre, or at taverns in their early years.  Rather than by ear, I play from the original sheet music scores that were sold to the masses. During those times there was widespread economic depression in Canada and the U.S. with no jobs, no money and even starvation. There must have been such anxiety and worry during this time!  Though this resident seemed lost in the anxiety of her past, I still could offer some keys that might have enriched her at some other time and space.   

The creativity and artistic courage of the 30's will never be duplicated again.  These songs  address the experiences  of that time; especially by those love songs so artfully crafted as glimmers of hope amidst pain, heart break and loss:  "Once in a While",  "These Foolish Things", "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", "Dream a Little Dream of Me"  and so many more.

 It is wonderful to see how music can bring these seniors together to sing and reminisce. Music becomes a wonderful community-building tool.

 Has music enhanced your community-building experiences?



So true!

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us, Jim!

In high school, I was in the concert band and played the french horn. Our school was situation right next to a nursing home and we would often walk over and play concerts for the residents a couple times a year.

It brough them such joy as the music brought them back (we would play older songs). Indeed this is beautiful experience for all involved!