A Musical Connection

December 3, 2020


Zoey Hupman

The past couple of weeks I have written about certain songs that mean a lot to me and that I feel the artist did a good job portraying how they felt when the song was written.

This week’s periodical, however, is a little bit different. Instead of choosing one song to go into depth on, I am going to write about something that is really interesting to several different types of people.

Dementia, according to The Alzheimer’s Association is, “A general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.” Worldwide there are about 50 million individuals who have dementia and about 10 million new cases are found every year.

Although this may seem off the typical topic of music, it is very relevant to what this week’s segment is all about. One thing music does is it helps people find something to hold on to. Over the past century, there has been one constant: music. It may have changed drastically over the years, but the main idea has stayed the same.

Here’s where things get a little more interesting and where the dots start connecting. “Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease,” stated Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D. 

What this means is the parts of your brain that help you remember music and make you able to play instruments are not affected by dementia. This is really interesting to me because in later, more severe stages of dementia, people lose their ability to talk, remember certain facts in their life, and even how to function properly, but it doesn’t affect the memory of music.

That’s just crazy to me that you can remember how to play instruments and you can remember the lyrics to your favorite song, but you need someone to assist you and your living condition.

Another thing that is really interesting is that in general, music activates the part of your brain that is responsible for memory. Neurologist Oliver Sacks stated, “Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”

This is one of the many examples as to why music means so much to me. No matter the condition you’re in, music is something that changes the world. Beethoven was completely deaf by the age of 48, yet he continued making music. Beethoven couldn’t hear the noise he was making, but he could feel the vibrations of the notes. This goes to show that the connection that is made between music and people can’t be hurt by time, disease, or anything else.

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