The joy of music at every age

Posted: June 27, 2013 by Dethfrequency in Discussion

A heart warming clip of 89 year old Carol Lyn Black lip syncing to her favorite song “Happy Days are Here Again” by Annette Hanshaw.

Captured by the photographer and videographer Michelle Alexis Newman

Alzheimer’s is a disease where you gradually lose touch with your memories, eventually completely forgetting who you are. I’ve seen how debilitating the disease is first hand with an older relative. In this clip the patient Henry who retains mostly a vegetative state in which the neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks describes as “unresponsive and almost unalive”. Once they put those headphones on him his eyes light up and he is suddenly swaying and singing to the music. It’s amazing to see such an impact the music has on a seemingly desperately ill man. What’s even more moving is that even after the music is turned off he is almost similarly impacted. The caretakers make a point to mention he is generally quiet but after listening for a bit he is more open to conversation. When asked the question “Do you like music?” Henry’s eyes get wide and passionately responds “I’m crazy about music”.

The power of music transcends what we know about the brain. A man who couldn’t recognize his daughter’s face suddenly remembers enjoying listening to Cab Calloway and easily recites the lyrics. It shows that music sits beyond just our memory and our enjoyment center. It becomes ingrained and carved into the folds of our brains like a new vinyl record.


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