MUSIC AND LISTENING

Listening is powerful.

In a November 7/12 article titled “Mending the Brain Through Music”, Dr. Bret Stetka and Dr. Concetta Tomaino explain about cueing patients to sing along with familiar lyrics from memory.  This prompts word retrieval by leaving pauses in the lyrics.

Dr. Tomaino explains, “You leave out a few lyrics in a familiar Beatles song and have the patient try to find the words without losing the beat.  As the person improves, we move toward a more traditional form of melodic intonation therapy focusing on tone and rhythm ….”  This therapy has helped patients who have had mild cognitive impairment.

I work with a wonderful group of singers – Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers.  An exercise we use that is similar to the one highlighted in the “Mending the Brain” article goes like this:

A familiar melody is played on the piano like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and in the middle of the phrase, the piano stops playing and the the group is asked to sing the next note of the song.  The group responds perfectly each time – we’ve rehearsed this with many familiar tunes.

“Music has been shown to be an effective memory enhancer for remembering basic information – phone numbers, people, addresses, things like that,” according to doctors’ Tomaino and Stetka.

A New York Times article on November 11/11 titled “Why Listening Is So Much More Than Hearing” by auditory neuroscientist Dr. Seth Horowitz, explains that “listening tunes our brain to the patterns of our environment faster than any other sense, and paying attention to the nonvisual parts of our world feeds into everything from our intellectual sharpness to our dance skills.”  Based on research findings, listening response is ten times faster than visual response.

We can train our listening to hear words and music with heightened senses.  All this can enhance our memory and awareness of the world around us.

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