The magic of music

Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Corn loves classical music. It's all ears for the stuff.

An Idaho farmer I know blasts Mozart and Tchaikovsky into his garden 24/7, slathering timeless melodies like butter onto the growing stalks. I can't prove it helps, but his harvest is definitely something special. Every sweet corn kernel explodes in your mouth like the “The 1812 Overture.”

Maybe that's not even why he does it. Maybe he's trying to scare off the deer, just like people use loud Barry Manilow songs to stop teens from hanging out around shopping malls. But it doesn't matter, because music is always magic.

Within our profession, the film “Alive Inside” has helped give music a more credible, clinical place in the dementia care arsenal. It's shown proven power to trigger memories, spark engagement, and even help reduce antipsychotic use.

Hopefully you've already explored implementing the Music & Memory program in your facility. All it takes to unlock some of the most emotional moments you'll ever witness is a cheap media player and a commitment to digging deep enough to discover musical preferences.

But here's my question. Why only residents with dementia? Why not do this for everyone?

I know, I know. Music is already everywhere, like gravity and Pokemon GO, in every lobby and elevator. So why would we need to provide it?

Because it's also incredibly personal — and such an important statement of individualism, a commodity often in short supply when someone arrives at our door. People need music, their music, the soundtrack to the life they grudgingly left to come into this place.

Call me naïve, but I think it could happen for everyone we admit. We just take the time to find out what music they like, and we give it to them, as a celebration of their unique humanity.

What a great housewarming gift and marketing coup — an inexpensive iPod Shuffle and custom playlist, along with a card that reads, “Welcome! We know you're a person. So here's your music.”