In Musical Memories sessions, I visit one-on-one with elders – usually in their assisted living or residential care facilities – and sing old favorite songs. This is very different from group musical activities or recorded music because it is an individual and personalized activity. I choose songs from the person’s youth, including popular songs from the 30’s and 40’s, traditional folk songs or hymns, since the songs we hear as we grow up and come of age are the ones that have the most emotional impact, stay with us the longest and give us the most joy.
Most of us enjoy listening to familiar songs, and often my clients sing along with me or tap out the rhythm. But this is not simply entertainment; these are actually musical conversations. They might share memories the songs evoke or stories about when they were young. Sometimes they talk about things that may not seem related to the music at all. And some people don’t say a word. But regardless of how each session unfolds, we are connecting and communicating through music and memories.
As I leave the sessions, I often hear people continuing to sing or hum to themselves. The music and the memories play on.